Speculations are being fueled that the relationship between MSNBC and Lawrence O’Donnell is coming to an abrupt end. O’Donnell’s contract on The Last Word ends in four weeks and the two sides have not come to the negotiating table. This is raising questions and people are various theories as to why O’Donnell is not being respected by MSNBC’s leadership.
One theory was supplied by Yashar Ali from HuffPo. Ali raised a very important point when he suggested that Donald Trump could be the reason MSNBC has not re-negotiated Lawrence’s contract.
In 2011, O’Donnell called on NBC to fire Trump, then the host and executive producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” for pushing his racist and inaccurate “birther” conspiracy against President Barack Obama. In 2015, he also claimed that Trump was lying about his wealth. Trump threatened to sue O’Donnell for making false statements but never followed through on his threat (which O’Donnell had predicted).
According to three sources, Trump has pressured MSNBC President Phil Griffin to fire O’Donnell on multiple occasions. Griffin alluded to Trump’s push for O’Donnell’s ouster in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, saying, “[Trump] started calling me all the time in 2011 to say Lawrence O’Donnell was a ‘third-rate’ anchor.” Griffin and O’Donnell enjoy a cordial relationship but Griffin’s power as the President of MSNBC has been diminished by Lack since he returned in 2015. As a result, Lack will be the one to decide whether O’Donnell stays and under what terms.