All In Or Kicked Out? Chris Hayes May Risk a Firing By Meddling In NBC-Union Struggle

Salon.com reported on a clash between NBC and its labor force: Chris Hayes held a secret meeting with members of the Writers Guild of America-East that’s in an ugly labor struggle with Peacock Productions, which is owned by NBC Universal. “We presented our case to Chris Hayes and he understood what we were dealing with,” Peacock Productions worker David Van Taylor told Salon.

The blog Inside Cable News thinks this is a serious career mistake for Hayes, maybe even a firing offense. Can MSNBC cashier another host after Bashir and Baldwin?

Why would Hayes do such a thing? Does he have an MSNBC career death wish? He should have known this would leak out…that the union would betray him by leaking his appearance to the media, thus leaving him twisting in the wind, as he is right now.

Why is Hayes twisting in the wind? Because, unless he got approval from management to meet with these people (something I find extremely unlikely), he just crossed a line he shouldn’t have crossed and put himself on the bad side of NBC corporate. That he may have only just listened without ever having any intention of trying to intervene on their behalf is irrelevant. From NBC’s standpoint he stuck his nose into a situation he shouldn’t have…and NBC will be keeping score as to who is on their side and who isn’t.

If this wasn’t officially approved, I can almost guarantee NBC will be talking with Phil Griffin if it hasn’t already and it will be saying “What the hell is going on over in your shop? Your employees are running around like loose cannons getting involved in things they shouldn’t be. Do something about it!” And Griffin will then take Hayes to the woodshed.

I can’t say with 100% certitude that this isn’t a firing offense because I don’t know how secure Hayes’ position inside MSNBC really is. But this sort of betrayal, and from NBC’s standpoint this is a betrayal if it wasn’t signed off on in advance, is the kind of thing people lose jobs over.

Naturally, the union guys think the labor-boosting MSNBC hosts should be on their side. From Salon:


WGA-E organizing director Justin Molito confirmed the meeting but said he could not provide further detail on the private sit-down. He said the union saw MSNBC’s prime-time hosts as “natural allies in the rights of employees that work in the same building as them, and for the same company as them.” Peacock Productions’ programming includes Investigation Discovery’s true-crime show “I’d Kill for You” and political documentaries for MSNBC.

Molito alleged that NBC Universal – owned by Comcast – was guilty of hypocrisy, treating Peacock Productions workers in a way that defied the values promoted on its cable channel, MSNBC: running “a textbook anti-union campaign that you would see at companies like Wal-Mart”; attempting “voter suppression” by preventing union election ballots from being counted; and exploiting the “right-wing extremist takeover in Congress” by mounting National Labor Relations Board stalling tactics abetted by recent Senate obstruction....

Given that “very positive” coverage of worker struggles is “part of their brand” at MSNBC, said Van Taylor, its hosts “should know what’s going on in their own company.” He added, “We would like the viewers of MSNBC to know that if they support workers’ rights, they should be supporting the workers at NBC.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis