The Joan Walsh Fiasco Proves It: MSNBC Must Seriously Now Be Crazy

Serves ‘em right.

The MSNBC executives who made the logic-free decision to get rid of progressive contributor Joan Walsh right before Christmas deserve the embarrassment they presumably feel after CNN immediately offered Walsh a position. Those now residing in the house Ted Turner built recognized that Walsh’s vision had value—something MSNBC officials apparently lost sight of.

What, exactly, motivated MSNBC to whack Walsh? One of the most curious media stories of 2017 is MSNBC running afoul of the presumed tastes of its viewers by bringing the likes of Greta Van Susteren and Hugh Hewitt onboard (though Van Susteren didn’t last that long) and contemplating the removal of Lawrence O’Donnell. Just a few weeks ago, MSNBC made another unforced error, removing progressive commentator Sam Seder after falling for a right-wing hit job; this decision was later reversed, but the fact that MSNBC fell for the anti-Seder setup in the first place was rather troubling.

I look forward to seeing Walsh on CNN, sparring with the channel’s right-wing commentators and pushing back against the lies of Donald Trump and his minions. I’m sure Trump will hurl as much hate as possible towards her on Twitter. I’m also sure she’ll never back down.

Speaking of CNN, earlier this month the channel ran a special entitled Global Warning: Arctic Melt, hosted by international correspondent Clarissa Ward and featuring climate scientists Jason Ward and Michael Mann. While the special was well-done, CNN’s audience won’t be fully informed about the extent of the climate crisis—and the solutions that are at our grasp—with occasional specials; the goal of informing the audience on this topic (and refuting the nonsense promoted by the Denier-in-Chief) can only be accomplished through regular climate-focused programming. In a recent interview with progressive radio host Angie Coiro, Al Gore observed that broadcast and cable news executives are reluctant to cover climate change due to a fear that a certain percentage of the viewership will turn the channel. If climate programming is compelling, comprehensive and focused on the fact that there are things we can do to avert the worst consequences of carbon pollution, they won’t turn the channel.

Van Jones—a former Obama administration adviser on clean-energy issues who was effectively chased out of the White House by former Fox News Channel star Glenn Beck—is scheduled to start his own show on CNN next month. Will CNN executives allow him to touch upon the climate crisis, and bring climate scientists, activists and journalists on as guests to make the case for expedited action to reduce emissions? We’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, let’s give those executives props for bringing Walsh on board; MSNBC will be poorer for her absence. It’s astonishing that “The Place for Politics” could no longer find a place for someone of Walsh’s immense intellect. Imagine a football team cutting a star player from the roster out of spite, only to have that player sign with another team and lead that franchise to a Super Bowl victory. I wouldn’t bet against Walsh scoring a game-winning touchdown for her new team.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.