Report of MSNBC Taking 3 Muslim Anchors Off Air Creates a Stir

Posted on 10/14/23
By A Correspondent |
(Image courtesy Arab News)
Social media was abuzz with criticism of US news network MSNBC after an American and a Saudi media outlet reported that the left-leaning pro-Democratic network had taken off air, three leading Muslim TV anchors amidst war in Gaza.

Semafor, a global news website, and a leading Saudi daily Arab News, reported that MSNBC suspended the shows of three Muslim anchors Mehdi Hasan, Ayman Mohieddine and Ali Velshi who were “quietly taken out of the anchor’s chair since Hamas’ attack on Israel.”

“MSNBC needs to explain its position! Why would a network remove its three most informed insightful resources at a time when there (their) expertise is most needed to explain a conflict they understand better than all others in MSNNBC,” said Dr Moeed Pirzada, a US-based Pakistani journalist and analyst inn a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

“Sunday will be a big test of MSNBC. If their 3 Muslim anchors still don’t host by then that would mean Mehdi will be sidelined for a week since his commentary. On Gaza, Velshi didn’t host this weekend, & Ayman didn’t host this weekend as well. A horrible look for the network,” said Wajahat Ali, another Muslim journalist and writer who contributes to publications like New York Times, BuzzFeed, Atlantic, etc.

Ilhan Omar, one of the two Muslim members of US House of Representatives, also took to X to express her “shock” at the reported decision.

Another journalist and a cultural and media critique at @ajplus, called MSNBC’s decision “horrific”.

Alan Maclleod, a senior staff writer/podcast producer at Mint Press News, said in a separate post on X: “If this were happening in China or another enemy country, it would make worldwide headlines…”

According to Semafor, the left-leaning news network did not air a scheduled Thursday night episode of “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” and dropped a plan for Mohieddine to anchor Joy Reid’s show on Thursday and Friday. “Sources also revealed that Velshi was being replaced by another anchor for his upcoming weekend shows,” it added.

MSNBC, however, “vehemently pushed back against any notion that either Hasan or Mohieddine were being sidelined in any way,” Semafor added

However, a leading Saudi daily, Arab News, reported that two sources directly involved with the decision within MSNBC confirmed the suspension. “There is a lot of unclarity over what happens next,” said one source. “But the mood is very similar to what had happened post 9/11 with the whole you are either with us or against us argument,” he added.

“Sadly, this has now gone beyond political views and is targeting anchors of a particular faith,” he said.

Arab News approached MSNBC but the network did not respond for comment by the time this story was published.

While Velshi is still reporting from the ground on other shows, what Arab News sources confirmed is that the shows have been suspended and the future of the three anchors at the network is unclear.

Mohyeldin, an Egyptian-American journalist and veteran NBC News correspondent covered the conflict from Gaza for two years.

Arab News is Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Media Group (SRMG).

Semafor was founded in 2022 by Ben Smith, a former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News and media columnist at The New York Times, and Justin B. Smith, the former CEO of Bloomberg Media Group.

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