MSNBC reverses course, rehires contributor ousted for Roman Polanski joke

Brunilde Fioravanti
Dicembre 7, 2017

"We made our initial decision for the right reasons ― because we don't consider rape to be a amusing topic to be joked about", Griffin said. "I'm proud that MSNBC and its staff have set a clear example of the need to get it right".

"But we've heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not", Griffin said. Now, the network is reversing course, and president Phil Griffin said Seder is welcome again on MSNBC.

The tweet - a joke that Seder's allies pointed out was meant to mock Polanski's continued acceptance in Hollywood at a time when he was attempting to come back to the U.S. - was shown to MSNBC higher-ups, who subsequently decided not to renew his contract.

Seder and MSNBC were set to part ways when his contributor contract expired next year, with reports indicating the departure had to do with a 2009 tweet from Seder surfaced by the far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich.

Seder said earlier this week the network made a mistake cutting ties with him.

Removed from context, the coarsely worded tweet might seem like something MSNBC wouldn't want looming in one of its contributors' backgrounds-despite the fact that Seder comes from a comedic background and clearly was being deadpan ironic.

In the tweet, Seder mocked defenders of the filmmaker Roman Polanski, a director who pleaded guilty to statutory rape after being charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.

The tweet went largely unnoticed for almost a decade - until last week, when the far-right activist Mike Cernovich dredged it up and spearheaded a pressure campaign against MSNBC.

In a tweet that has since been deleted, Seder said, "Don't care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene".

But the decision was met with a negative reaction throughout the media world - and inside the halls of MSNBC.

The initial move to cut ties with Seder faced backlash, as people argued the tweet was sarcasm.

"I reiterate my longstanding position that people shouldn't be fired for a tweet, *particularly* one that is obviously being read in manifestly bad faith", Mr. Hayes tweeted on Monday. "There was context for those tweets", Seder told CNNMoney in a phone interview earlier this week. And many journalists were appalled that the network would capitulate to Cernovich and his misreading of the tweet. "If they can't make that assessment, if making that assessment is a bridge too far, they have no value as a news organization".

Cernovich has yet to comment on the reversal.

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