Throughout the course of 2017, one of the strangest and most underreported stories has been the curious case of NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andrew Lack. He’s been consistently trying to steer his network’s programming toward a conservative bias, even at the expense of ratings. The question all along has been why, and the answer has never been clear. Then this morning Donald Trump made an unsubstantiated claim out of nowhere which sounds a lot like he’s claiming that he’s been blackmailing Lack the entire time.
Lack has been routinely offending his audience throughout the year. He gave Fox News reject Greta Van Susteren a daily show on MSNBC, and her ratings were predictably terrible. He brought another Fox News veteran, Megyn Kelly, to NBC News and her ratings have also been terrible. He tried to chase away left leaning Lawrence O’Donnell, even though O’Donnell delivers some of the highest ratings on MSNBC. Some in the media have speculated that Lack may have been trying to placate Trump, for fear that Trump would publicly attack his network. But now we may be looking at something different.
Here’s what Donald Trump tweeted this morning: “Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.’ But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!” Wait, what about Andy Lack’s past? We have no idea. He may be far from our favorite network executive, but we can’t find anything controversial about his past or his personal life.
Yet Donald Trump sure seems to be bragging that he’s been holding something over Andrew Lack’s head this year, trying to force him to push MSNBC in a more Trump-friendly direction. Considering there’s nothing to substantiate Trump’s vague claim about Lack’s past, we’re inclined to believe Trump is just making the whole thing up, and Lack has simply been making MSNBC worse because he’s terrible at his job. But if Trump is indeed somehow blackmailing the head of a major news network, as he just implied, we have a whole new problem.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report