Days after parting ways with a contributor over a joke in an old tweet, MSNBC has reversed its position and brought Sam Seder back on board. The move comes after MSNBC sparked a controversy with Seder’s ouster.
“On Monday, the network said that it would not renew Seder’s contributor contract due to a provocative joke he told on Twitter in 2009,” CNN reports. “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.”
Seder reportedly said in the 2009 tweet: “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.”
The report notes that the tweet went largely unnoticed for years, “until last week, when the far-right activist Mike Cernovich dredged it up and spearheaded a pressure campaign against MSNBC.”
The network’s decision Monday to part ways with Seder was a temporary win for Cernovich, but CNN notes that “the decision was met with a negative reaction throughout the media world — and inside the halls of MSNBC.”
The report adds: “Many journalists were appalled that the network would capitulate to Cernovich and his misreading of the tweet.”
MSNBC President Phil Griffin announced the reversal in a statement, saying: “Sometimes you just get one wrong — and that’s what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons — because we don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. 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. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward.”
Seder also issued a statement following the reversal, saying: “I appreciate MSNBC’s thoughtful reconsideration and willingness to understand the cynical motives of those who intentionally misrepresented my tweet for their own toxic, political purposes. We are experiencing an important and long overdue moment of empowerment for the victims of sexual assault and of reckoning for their perpetrators. I’m proud that MSNBC and its staff have set a clear example of the need to get it right.”