MSNBC reverses firing of contributor over rape joke

Thursday, December 7, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC has reversed itself and now says it won't be cutting ties with contributor Sam Seder over a rape joke he made on Twitter eight years ago.

Network president Phil Griffin said today that "sometimes you just get one wrong – and that's what happened here."

Seder had been told last week he wouldn't be welcomed back on the network after conservative commentator Mike Cernovich pointed out the apparent joke by Seder about defenders of film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive since pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor in the 1970s.

In his tweet, Seder wrote he didn't care about Polanski, "but I hope if my daughter is ever raped, it is by a truly talented man with a great sense of mise en scene."

Seder, a comedian who does the political podcast "The Majority Report," is an occasional presence on MSNBC, most often on Chris Hayes' prime-time show.

MSNBC's action provoked an online outcry from fans who thought the network was caving to pressure from conservatives.

"We made our initial decision for the right reasons – because we don't consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about," Griffin said. "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."

MSNBC had initially said it wouldn't be renewing Seder's contract, which expires early next year.