MSNBC decided to rehire Sam Seder, an occasional on-air personality, after cutting ties with him earlier this week.
MSNBC reversed its decision not to renew the contract of a progressive political commentator and comedy writer.
The Intercept reported on Thursday that MSNBC would reoffer Sam Seder a job as an on-air contributor after cutting ties with him earlier this week.
MSNBC's decision to distance itself from Seder came after far-right activist Mike Cernovich resurfaced a years-old tweet in which Seder satirically praised Roman Polanski, the director who pleaded guilty to rape, but has nonetheless received plaudits and awards in Hollywood.
"Don't care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene," Seder tweeted in 2009.
The tweet — a joke that Seder's allies pointed out was meant to mock Polanski's continued acceptance in Hollywood at a time when he was attempting to come back to the US — was shown to MSNBC higher-ups, who subsequently decided not to renew his contract.
In a statement to the Intercept, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said that although it still did not agree with Seder's phrasing, management misinterpreted the joke.
"Sometimes you just get one wrong," Griffin said. "That's what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons — because we don't consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. 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."
Seder also thanked MSNBC for reversing course.
"I appreciate MSNBC's thoughtful reconsideration and willingness to understand the cynical motives of those who intentionally misrepresented my tweet for their own toxic, political purposes," Seder said. "We are experiencing an important and long overdue moment of empowerment for the victims of sexual assault and of reckoning for their perpetrators. I'm proud that MSNBC and its staff have set a clear example of the need to get it right."
Many journalists and left-leaning viewers decried the network's decision to keep Seder off the air, arguing that Cernovich — a far-right personality who has a long history of inflammatory remarks on social media in his own right — had taken the joke out of context with the aim of getting Seder fired.
Many staffers inside MSNBC had also privately lamented the decision to fire Seder over the joke, while executives said privately they were surprised by the far-right's celebration of his firing.