White House Denies That Cenk Uygur Ouster Is Administration ‘Programming’ MSNBC


In explaining his departure from MSNBC, Cenk Uygur related a conversation with the “head of MSNBC” in which he was told that “people in Washington are concerned about your tone.”

The story caught the attention of conservative website The Blaze, which asks “Is the White House Programming a News Channel?”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney tells Mediaite, exclusively, that they, alas, are not involved in leaning the network forward, or in any other direction.

Perhaps The Blaze should have asked, “Is Another White House Programming Another News Network,” but aside from that, the notion has superficial appeal. Uygur’s account of his conversation with (presumably) Phil Griffin no doubt brings to mind the recent “Dick-gate” dustup. Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, at the time, that he had called MSNBC’s executives to express his displeasure at Mark Halperin’s penile presidential appellation. But Carney also said he was silent on what type of penalty, if any, ought to have been levied against his former colleague.

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with this White House knows, though, that this is nothing special. Carney, and Robert Gibbs before him, have never been shy about making their feelings known to reporters (myself included), but by and large, they do so directly, to the reporters themselves.

By contrast, hardly a week goes by when some press flack doesn’t contact my editors to complain about something I’ve written. It’s their job, of course, and not unique to me. Many of my colleagues have the same experience. It comes with the territory, I suppose, but the point is, it’s a big town. Any number of folks could have watered Griffin’s ear (including flacks for conservative guests who felt Uygur was too tough on them), or none of them. Maybe it was Griffin who was concerned, and used the old “people are saying” thing to cushion the blow. According to an MSNBC source, it was “staffers in our Washington bureau,” who expressed concerns about Uygur’s “style, not substance.”

In any case, whoever it was, it was not anyone at the White House. I asked Carney if he, or anyone else at The White House, had ever expressed such a concern about Cenk Uygur:

I have never expressed an opinion about Mr. Uygur to anyone at MSNBC. Nor has anyone in the White House communications office expressed concerns about his show with anyone at the network. We never had a problem with his show.

You know, there’s real news to cover out there, Tommy!

Fair enough. Perhaps if we weren’t so close to the August news dead zone, and we weren’t at Mr. Creosote levels of fed up with the debt ceiling story, The Blaze might have had something better to do with its time, and I, with mine.

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