From The Ethics Alarms Lost Files: The Firing And Un-Firing Of Sam Seder

Somehow I lost this one for a week, then found it today, reminding me how much it ticked me off.

Sam Seder, an MSNBC political commentator and host of the “Majority Report” podcast, had sent a tweet  in 2oo9—that’s 8 years ago, folks—obviously mocking the Hollywood supporters of fugitive film director and child rapist Roman Polanski.

The tweet 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.”

That is called artful satire, and if you can’t tell that, you really should restrict yourself to Nickelodeon and “Good Night Moon.”

Then Mike Cernovich, the far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, who is not an idiot, though he is many other unpleasant things, tracked down the tweet and began to complain to  MSNBC’s media relations department and other journalists about Seder using the same kind of political correctness crack-brained mania that the Left typically inflicts on the Right. Cernvich was trolling MSNBC, I assume, and maybe he was trying to accomplish what he eventually did accomplish: he got the left-wing cable channel management to fire Seder for “inappropriate and insensitive remarks.” Or maybe he was just trolling, though before the axe fell, Seder accused Cernovich of attempting to silence his criticism of President Trump and Roy Moore….you know, like the way the Seder-sympatico Media Matters has tried to silence Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Now one would think that MSNBC execs would be able to tell Seder’s tweet was witty, and also have enough faith in the brain pans of its viewers to assume they, unlike most conservatives, who for some reason don’t have much if a sense of humor, would understand that there was nothing offensive about the Polanski tweet, except to Polanski and child rape fans in France and Hollywood. But no: out he went, as Cernovich lifted a glass of Korbel somewhere with Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

Then thousands of people signed a petition demanding that Seder be rehired, and he was. MSNBC’s head Phil Griffin wrote:

“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 responded,

“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.”

What have we learned from this contemptible sequence?

  •  Mike Cernovich is a vicious jerk.

He deliberately misrepresented an obvious satirical tweet than was critical of Polanski and his supporters in order to stampede the dumber members of the knee-jerk Left against him.

  • Phil Griffin and company are censorious fools.

They took the troll’s bait, presumably because they are too dim to perceive satire and sarcasm when they see it. Griffin’s statement was a classic: they fire employees for not aping the company’s lockstep values, apparently. The language was not in line with their values? How do you make fun of people who want to excuse a rapist because he makes good movies (now and then), without using the word “rape”? “We don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about”–huh? This is why MSNBC fell for Cernovich’s stunt: it was too dim to get the joke, which was not about rape at all.  In truth, MSNBC, like so much of the Lockstep Left, is terrified of backlash from the progressive tribal furies. Better to fire an innocent wit than risk a rant from Ashley Judd.

  • The petition-signers didn’t have the honesty to lay the bulk of the blame where it belonged: the liberal cable station that fired Seder. From the petition:

“Cernovich, a well-known fake-conspiracy promoter, claimed falsely that Sam defended Polanski in a tweet Sam wrote ten years ago. In fact, Sam’s tweet did the opposite — he attacked those on the left who would forgive Polanski for raping a child, simply because Polanski “made good films.” This isn’t the first time Cernovich has concocted a high-profile lie to advance his extreme political agenda.”

Whoa! How could Cernovich deceive anyone into believing Seder’s tweet was defending a rapist when anyone with a brain could tell it was not? An opinion that makes no sense and misrepresents facts that are plain view should do no damage at all. If someone runs up to me on the street and says, “Your wife is a demon: kill her!,” it’s not his fault if I say “Really? If you say so!” and toss her in front of a bus. Until partisans hold their fellow travelers responsible for their bad conduct and won’t only point fingers at the opposition, ethical public discourse is impossible.

  • Seder’s statement is cowardly and disingenuous. Why does Cernovich’s bad faith matter? Why didn’t his employer think enough of him to give him the benefit of a doubt that shouldn’t have been any doubt at all? Again: someone pointing to a red sign saying “It’s green!” may be lying, but it’s a harmless lie unless someone is too lazy, stupid or incompetent to recognize it.

Sam Seder would have done more good by saying, “I’m glad MSNBC came to their senses, but I don’t care to work for people who are that quick to turn their backs on loyal and productive employees without justification. Cernovich’s trolling worked because MSNBC lived down to the worst expectations of the Right.”


Facts: New York Times

9 thoughts on “From The Ethics Alarms Lost Files: The Firing And Un-Firing Of Sam Seder

  1. The problem with your last two paragraphs is that Sam Seder would almost certainly be first in line to censor others and have them fired for opinions Sam Seder doesn’t like.

    Here he is distorting the James Damore memo and encouraging his firing (agreeing that no one would want a James Damore in their office.)

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