MSNBC finally responded Wednesday to Rula Jebreal’s claims that she’s been shunned by network brass following her criticism of its coverage of the current conflict in Gaza, telling TPM in a statement that the Palestinian journalist voluntarily ended her contract as a contributor there last month.
In a statement provided by spokesperson Diana Rocco (posted below), MSNBC also explained why Jebreal’s scheduled appearances were bumped a day after she blasted the network for disproportionately interviewing pro-Israel guests.
“Regarding the claim of cancelled appearances: Jebreal’s pre-booked daytime appearance on Tuesday was bumped to accommodate the re-airing of Chris Hayes’ exclusive interview with Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15 year old Palestinian American beaten by Israeli forces,” the statement read.
From a search of MSNBC’s daytime programming on Tuesday, the only time the interview with the 15-year-old appears to have been shown was during a 37-second segment on the show hosted by Jose Diaz-Balart. It’s unclear if Jebreal was slated to appear on that program, which airs weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Rocco told TPM in a subsequent email that the interview “aired during other shows too,” although she did not identify the programs.
When TPM asked on which daytime program Jebreal was scheduled to appear, Rocco referred again to the original statement.
“As the statement says, a pre-booked daytime appearance,” Rocco said in the email.
On Monday, hours after Jebreal criticized MSNBC on-air, she said on Twitter that her “forthcoming television appearances” had been canceled.
Those cancelations only lasted until Tuesday night, when she appeared on “All In with Chris Hayes.”
Hayes acknowledged on the show that MSNBC higher-ups were probably not pleased with her previous appearance.
“Let me take you behind the curtain of cable news business for a moment,” Hayes said. “If you appear on a cable news network, you trash that network and one of its hosts by name on any issue — Gaza, infrastructure, spending, sports coverage or funny Internet cat videos — the folks at the network will not take kindly to it. Not some grand conspiracy at work — a fairly predictable case of cause and effect.”
Unlike her appearance the previous day when she was labeled an “MSNBC contributor,” Jebreal was identified as a “Palestinian journalist” during her interview with Hayes.
That subtle change aroused suspicion that she had been punished for her criticism, and journalist Max Blumenthal reported on Tuesday that Jebreal’s contract renewal with MSNBC was pulled as a result of her candor. MSNBC told TVNewser on Wednesday that Jebreal was “labeled incorrectly” when she was identified as a contributor.
In the statement to TPM, MSNBC said Jebreal’s contract with the network ended last month “when she said she wanted to pursue new opportunities.”
Jebreal told Blumenthal she doesn’t anticipate any future appearances on MSNBC.
“I’m done there,” she said. “It’s not happening any more. My contract is over. I’m fine with it. I’m not complaining.”
In an interview with Democracy Now on Wednesday that she is unaware if she lost her job as a contributor.
“I have no idea. I still don’t know. My contract is up, and we’re negotiating still,” Jebreal said.
For what it’s worth, Jebreal still identified herself as an MSNBC contributor on her Twitter bio as of Wednesday afternoon.
In her interview with Blumenthal, Jebreal expressed dismay with Hayes, who defended the media’s coverage of the current Israel-Hamas conflict.
“I admire that Chris [Hayes] wanted to have me on but it seems like he was condoning what happened to me,” Jebreal said. “He was saying, ‘What do you expect? We rally around our stars.’ Well, I rally around reality, if that still matters in media.”
She also pointed to the example of MSNBC’s resident conservative Joe Scarborough, who’s called out the network for its liberal bias.
“I did not think that i was stepping in a hornet’s nest,” Jebreal told Blumenthal. “I saw Joe Scarborough criticizing the network. I thought we were liberal enough to stand self criticism.”
Jebreal and her agent both told TPM on Wednesday that they were unavailable for an interview.
Regarding the claim of cancelled appearances: Jebreal’s pre-booked daytime appearance on Tuesday was bumped to accommodate the re-airing of Chris Hayes’ exclusive interview with Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15 year old Palestinian American beaten by Israeli forces. Jebreal was a guest on “All In” with Chris Hayes on Tuesday night.
While we don’t publicly discuss contract specifics, Jebreal’s contributor deal with MSNBC officially ended last month when she said she wanted to pursue new opportunities. We’ve welcomed her back on MSNBC several times since. Her voice is one of many Palestinian voices on MSNBC.