MSNBC cancels Mehdi Hasan show, 'one of few Western commentators' providing balance to Gaza debate
US news network MSNBC has axed The Mehdi Hasan Show hosted by British-born journalist Mehdi Hasan, sparking backlash from viewers.
Several pro-Palestine advocates view Hasan as adding balance to mainstream US media coverage of the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, which has been viewed as having very little criticism of Israel's brutal campaign.
The show’s cancellation prompted widespread outcry from journalists, lawmakers, and activists, who say the decision has silenced one of the most prominent Muslim voices in the media industry.
The New Arab contacted MSNBC for comment but received no response by the time of publication.
Palestinian-American human rights lawyer Noura Erakat condemned MSNBC’s decision in a post on social media platform X, saying Hasan "should be amplified, not shut down".
"[MSNBC] make this make sense. Mehdi Hasan’s program has felt like an oasis on air and more needed than ever. His program with Mark Regev was a whole class on journalistic method," she tweeted.
Nihad Awad, the national executive director of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), called MSNBC’s actions "deplorable" on X.
"MSNBC what's the reason behind your deplorable decision of canceling The Mehdi Hasan Show? Is it his independent, critical and principled analysis of the Apartheid Israeli policies? Even you, can't tolerate the truth?"
MSNBC has been accused of perpetuating a pro-Israel narrative by pro-Palestine activists and commentators.
British author and journalist Owen Jones referred to Hasan as one of the "few mainstream voices who challenge Israel's mass slaughter of Gaza".
MSNBC cancels Mehdi Hasan’s show@msnbc make this make sense. @mehdirhasan’s program has felt like an oasis on air and more needed than ever. His program w Mark Regev was a whole class on journalistic method. He should be amplified,not shut down. https://t.co/r5Saq1ssdm#Gaza— Noura Erakat (@4noura) November 30, 2023
Former Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also described Hasan in a tweet as an “honest, principled, and outspoken critic of Israel's conduct in Gaza”.
The recent news, which first broke on Semfor, detailed that Hasan’s weekend programme would be cancelled from the streaming service Peacock, according to insiders that spoke to the news site.
The two sources claimed that MSNBC representatives announced to internal staff on Thursday that Hasan is set to transition to a new role as an on-camera analyst and ‘fill-in host’.
Semfor also claimed that Hasan’s show had not led to “ratings successes on the weekends or during fill-in appearances on primetime shows.”
Variety additionally published a memo sent by MSNBC president Rashida Jones to members of staff that the latest change was due to the network adapting to the 2024 US elections and "draw broader audiences".
Palestinian icon Ahed Tamimi was released from prison after initially being detained last month for an alleged social media post that her family has denied was hers. Shortly after her release late Wed night, she recounted threats made by Israeli forces to have her father killed pic.twitter.com/71nBvOu3nG— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 30, 2023
Additionally, the network is said to expand the show of another MSNBC host, Ayman Mohyeldin, by increasing his weekend programme slot to two hours - in replacement of Hasan’s show.
Both Mohyeldin and Hasan have openly challenged the Israeli government within their coverage of Israel and Palestine, particularly as Israel’s war on Gaza rages on.
Prior to the cancellation of Hasan’s show, NBC was under fire for temporarily taking its Muslim anchors off the air, including Hasan, Ali Velshi and Ayman Mohyeldin amid the Israeli offensive on the besieged enclave.
Semfor reported that NBC denied the allegations that it was purposefully sidelining the trio and regarded its choice as pure coincidence.
Hasan has worked as a senior columnist at The Intercept, as well as a presenter on Al Jazeera English.