Abrams: Blaming Tiffany Cross’ MSNBC firing on race is ridiculous

Dan Abrams Live

(NewsNation) — There’s a growing movement to make a racial issue out of the decision over at MSNBC not to renew the contract of host Tiffany Cross.

According to these critics, it wasn’t her history of incendiary commentary or her wildly over-the-top rhetoric that got her show, “The Cross Connection,” taken off the air. It wasn’t because her show still has to live under the NBC News brand, which claims to present news.

No, it’s all because Cross is a woman of color. That had to be the reason.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 19: Tiffany Cross, Host of MSNBC Cross Connection speaks on stage during The 2022 Concordia Annual Summit – Day 1 at Sheraton New York on September 19, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

And of course, that conveniently absolves Cross of any responsibility for the actual words she said. Her rhetoric catered to the fringes of the far-left. Notably, on multiple occasions, she claimed that the United States is currently in the midst of a civil war.

A show from a mainstream news organization was saying that the United States is currently engaged in civil war, and that it’s not hyperbole. The last civil war in the country led to more than 600,000 deaths. And that’s not the only time she’s deployed violent rhetoric.

Right before her dismissal, Cross, as a guest on Comedy Central, went on a vulgar rant about Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis (or, as she called him, “Ron DeStupid.”)

Is it really that far-fetched to think a news organization which, despite its left-leaning biases, at least tries to maintain a veneer of professionalism, might not want to be associated with comments like those?

And yet,  in a column published this week, Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah wrote,

It was a stunning announcement — and, particularly for Black journalists, a reminder that the rug could be pulled out from under us at any time. She was not even given the dignity of a final, sign-off show…

It’s all a bad look, sending the message that we can be abruptly de-platformed for stirring up the right-wing media pot. Two years after the supposed “global reckoning” on race, we are still disposable…

If this can happen to Cross, all Black journalists are on shaky ground.

Karen Attiah, Washington Post columnist

A group of 40 prominent Black thought leaders sent a letter to MSNBC critical of Cross’ firing. In it, they denounced what they labeled a “racist and misogynistic” attack against Cross by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and argued the network had an obligation to keep her on the air as a result.

“This decision was announced just two weeks after a targeted, racist and misogynistic strike against both Ms. Cross’ reporting and character from a known racist & antisemite, Fox News host, Tucker Carlson.

“His intentional misrepresentation of her platform amounted to no less than a direct attack, and should have engendered immediate defense and support of Ms. Cross by her parent network,” the letter continued.

It’s true that some of Carlson’s attacks on Cross were over the top and inappropriate. Fair criticism.

But if cable news hosts are entitled to stay on the air as long as they’re the subject of unfair attacks from rivals, then every host as a job for life.

Cross herself has now cited race for her dismissal. In a statement the day after she was let go, the former MSNBC host said, “Fresh off the heels of a ‘racial reckoning,’ as so many have called it, we see that with progress, there is always backlash.”

But Cross and all of her defenders are overlooking some very inconvenient facts.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 17: Rashida Jones attends The Hollywood Reporter Most Powerful People In Media Presented By A&E at The Pool on May 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

For starters, the president of MSNBC — the person who made this decision — is a Black woman, Rashida Jones. The buck stops with her at MSNBC. And in just the past two years, NBC News has promoted 20 non-white people to host shows on its various platforms, compared with far fewer white people.

Make no mistake— MSNBC is an activist liberal network

And then there’s the enormous issue of ratings. Many of her supporters have referred to her ratings as strong, or even as one major outlet claimed, the highest-rated weekend show on MSNBC.

Except here is the reality: Most MSNBC shows finish in a solid second place behind Fox News, but Cross’ show finished third behind both Fox News and CNN in the total ratings category, and the advertiser-coveted 25-54 demographic.

And cross’s ratings were less than half of what her predecessor, Joy Reid, drew in the same slot.

It’s not always a sinister agenda. Sometimes, a show or host just doesn’t work. Sometimes it just isn’t a fit.

I had a show that was cancelled on MSNBC in 2008. Why? I could claim that it was unfair or there were people out to get me, but the reality is my show just didn’t work on MSNBC at that time. It was too politically moderate for an increasingly liberal network.

Look, it’s not just Tiffany Cross. I’d support Fox News firing certain far-right extremist hosts who have crossed the line as well. These networks should feel an immense responsibility as to who they put on the airwaves. But with MSNBC bending over backwards to add liberal, racially diverse hosts, trying to play the race card against them feels ridiculous.

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