Caving to a "smear campaign" led by pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich and boosted by Nazi-linked former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, MSNBC has reportedly moved to cut ties with progressive commentator Sam Seder for a satirical tweet from 2009 aimed at criticizing defenders of the film director and convicted child rapist Roman Polanski.
"It's really pathetic of MSNBC to cut ties with Sam Seder over a tweet skewering people who try to apologize for Roman Polanski."
—Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post
The tweet came in response to a petition circulated by Hollywood filmmakers and actors that called for Polanski's release after he was arrested in Switzerland on a U.S. warrant. In a video posted last week, Seder explained that his since-deleted tweet was meant to satirize the "disgusting and offensive attempt by some in the film industry to allow for Roman Polanski to return to the U.S. from where he was a fugitive to avoid a trial regarding his alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl."
"I was particularly digusted that a community I was even tangentially associated with would defend a child rapist based on the fact that he was a good filmmaker," Seder added. "At that time I wrote and posted a tweet that captured my anger in the best way I knew how, which was through satire."
Watch Seder's full statement:
MSNBC's decision to not renew its contract with Seder as a result of Cernovich's efforts was immediately met with outrage and slammed as an "absolutely shameful" decision to capitulate to far-right trolls and "rape apologists."
"NBC kills the Weinstein story, then freaks out over a bad faith misreading of Sam Seder? Man, they’re screwing up every which way," wrote the Washington Post's Dave Weigel. Others piled on:
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) December 5, 2017
NBC-- who killed Ronan Farrow's story on Harvey Weinstein, covered for Matt Lauer for years, and made Trump a star-- is throwing Sam Seder under the bus because the Pizzagate guy who thinks date rape doesn't exist slandered him. https://t.co/YmD479dVuD
— Robin (@caulkthewagon) December 4, 2017
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) December 4, 2017
— Egg Bruenog (@ebruenig) December 5, 2017
So cowardly of MSNBC: terminates contract with @SamSeder after Mike Cernovich complains about an **obviously satirical** 7-year-old tweet that mocked, not endorsed, those who defend Roman Polanski https://t.co/AwWnVseJv9
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 4, 2017
Wow. This is a bad move by MSNBC. Sam Seder--really smart, thorough, honest--just got fired for an 8-year old satirical tweet because MSNBC gave into conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich's ant-Seder campaign.
Shame on MSNBC.
Follow @SamSeder and @majorityfm
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) December 5, 2017
Soon after news of the network's move to cut ties with Seder broke, The Intercept's Ryan Grim began circulating a petition that calls on MSNBC to "reverse this cowardly decision." The petition has since garnered thousands of signatures.
In the face of continued attempts by the alt-right to strip his radio show and podcast of advertising dollars, Seder launched a GoFundMe campaign late Monday that rips MSNBC for bowing to "an alt-right figure immersed in the white supremacy movement and who launched the PizzaGate conspiracy."
"Cernovich, a defender of rape culture, pressured MSNBC to fire Sam Seder by intentionally taking a tweet of Sam's out of context—a tweet where Sam was defending women against supporters of Roman Polanski. David Duke himself tweeted to celebrate MSNBC's decision," the campaign's summary reads. "Now, Cernovich's operatives are emailing advertisers on 'The Majority Report' in an attempt to de-fund the show. We must stop these tactics and keep the alt-right from winning."