In a quick turnaround, political analyst Joan Walsh has joined CNN’s stable of contributors after MSNBC decided not to renew her contract.
News broke that Walsh was being dropped by her longtime network on Friday night and into Saturday morning, when an intense backlash promptly settled in. Several observers chastised MSNBC for letting go of a notable, feminist progressive voice near the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election as president. By early Saturday morning, the hashtag #KeepJoanWalsh was trending on Twitter in New York.
Walsh, who was Salon‘s first news editor and the publication’s editor-in-chief for a total of six years, had been regularly appearing on Chris Matthews’ Hardball and Chris Hayes’ All In, among other MSNBC staples, before the news of MSNBC’s decision broke. She’s currently a national affairs correspondent for The Nation. Walsh’s Twitter feed on Saturday mostly consisted of retweets of other influential voices lamenting MSNBC’s decision.
The pushback MSNBC faced was similar to when the network decided to drop contributor Sam Seder, host of The Majority Report, after right-wing media resurfaced a deleted tweet he posted joking about liberals’ reluctance to condemn Roman Polanski, who was charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. (He pled guilty to the charge of statutory rape.) MSNBC ultimately reversed course, deciding to renew its relationship with Seder.
As with the Seder situation, MSNBC was called out even by its own prominent voices for deciding to let Walsh go. “It’s incredibly short sighted to sideline voices like Joan’s, especially now,” AM Joy host Joy Reid tweeted. “Especially given the momentousness of next year’s anniversaries: the women’s march, the King and RFK assassinations … we need to be at full strength as media entities, and Joan belongs in the mix.”
In a statement addressing Walsh’s exit, MSNBC referred to the analyst as a “key voice” in political media. “Every year we review our paid contributors list across the ideological spectrum,” the network continued. “Unfortunately we couldn’t renew Joan, but she and her distinct perspective will still be invited on our shows.”
As supporters continued to make noise, news broke on Saturday that Walsh had already found a new cable news home: CNN. Walsh, in her announcement of the news, implied that the outpouring of support on social media helped make the transition a reality. “I am overwhelmed by the support I’ve received today from all of you. And I’m thrilled to tell you I’ll be heading to @CNN in the new year,” she said. “Thanks to everyone who made this happen. A Christmas miracle.”