via Democracy Now!
In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war," providing "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. "They were terrified of the antiwar voice," Donahue says. [includes rush transcript]
ABOUT CHRIS MATTHEWS:
"I think he saw me as a threat to his supremacy," Donahue told HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill. "He wanted to be the face of MSNBC and here comes this talk show host. I had the benefit of recognition ... I think I was a threat to his goal of being the man at MSNBC. He was quite emotional. He was emotionally upset."
ABOUT JOE SCARBOROUGH:
MSNBC at the time decided to go full-on pro-war as a ratings strategy, and so it canceled a show by liberal peacenik Phil Donahue and hired a bunch of pro-war conservatives, including a former congressman named Joe Scarborough. Joe Scarborough has a TV show because of his boundless enthusiasm for waging the Iraq War. That’s the problem with the “who could’ve possibly foreseen that this was all bullshit” stance: Lots of people saw that it was bullshit, and they were ridiculed and marginalized by people like Scarborough.
PHIL DONAHUE: Well, I think what happened to me, the biggest lesson, I think, is the—how corporate media shapes our opinions and our coverage. This was a decision—my decision—the decision to release me came from far above. This was not an assistant program director who decided to separate me from MSNBC. They were terrified of the antiwar voice. And that is not an overstatement. Antiwar voices were not popular. And if you’re General Electric, you certainly don’t want an antiwar voice on a cable channel that you own; Donald Rumsfeld is your biggest customer. So, by the way, I had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone, but I couldn’t have Dennis Kucinich on alone. I was considered two liberals. It really is funny almost, when you look back on how—how the management was just frozen by the antiwar voice. We were scolds. We weren’t patriotic. American people disagreed with us. And we weren’t good for business.
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