MSNBC Draws Backlash for Canceling Mehdi Hasan’s Show

Fans and prominent liberals are questioning whether Hasan, who is one of the few Muslim hosts in cable news, is being penalized for his criticism of the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza and his strong support for the Palestinian people.

MSNBC Draws Backlash for Canceling Mehdi Hasan’s Show
Hasan presented "The Mehdi Hasan Show" on Peacock since Oct. 2020 and on MSNBC from Feb. 2021 until the show's cancellation today.

MSNBC has canceled Mehdi Hasan's weekend show on the network, as well as his streaming version of the show on Peacock. The move will shift Hasan to the role of an on-camera analyst and fill-in host. Despite Hasan's online popularity for his intense interview style and passionate monologues, his shows allegedly did not achieve notable ratings success on weekends or during primetime fill-in appearances.

The network’s decision to cancel Hasan's Sunday-night show has already sparked backlash online. MSNBC says that the recent restructure to its weekend lineup is due to 2024 election coverage. However, fans and prominent liberals are questioning whether Hasan, who is one of the few Muslim hosts in cable news, is being penalized for his criticism of the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza and his strong support for the Palestinian people.

Despite Hasan’s lower ratings when compared to his peers, the outspoken host is known for his viral success on social media, which often highlights him going head-to-head against notable conservatives. In a recent interview with Israeli government adviser Mark Regev, Hasan pressed Regev on the children killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes. When Regev said that Hasan had seen photos of dead children “because they’re the pictures Hamas wants you to see,” the host responded, “and also because they’re dead, Mark. They’re also people your government has killed.” The segment was viewed nearly 6 million times on the social media platform X.

MSNBC has yet to publicly explain the cancellation, leading critics such as Rep. Ro Khanna to question the cancellation’s timing. “It is bad optics for MSNBC to cancel [Hasan’s] show right at a time when he is vocal for human rights in Gaza with the war ongoing,” Khanna wrote on X.

Former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur also took to X to share his thoughts on the situation. “It’s not just because [Hasan] treats Muslims as real human beings,” Uygur wrote. “It’s also because he actually challenges his guests. And that is the biggest heresy in mainstream media.”

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched a petition Thursday calling for MSNBC to reinstate Hasan’s canceled show on both the network and Peacock. “Media history is littered with voices that got in the door, resonated with the public, and were shut out because they challenged just a little too much power,” the organization wrote in an email to members. “It’s a huge programming mistake to kick voices like Mehdi Hasan off the air instead of asking: Why are they resonating with the public as they challenge power and question conventional wisdom?”

In place of Hasan’s show, MSNBC will extend host Ayman Mohyeldin's weekend program to two hours.

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