A Union Third Rail…
Salon’s Josh Eidelson has an interesting wrinkle in the saga of Peacock Productions producers trying to unionize…
Amid workers alleging union-busting by an NBC Universal-owned company, MSNBC’s prime-time host Chris Hayes recently met privately with a group of them to hear their concerns, according to several people present at the meeting.
Hayes is one of five prime-time MSNBC hosts – along with Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz – whose support the Writers Guild of America–East is seeking in an ugly labor struggle with Peacock Productions, which is owned by NBC Universal and has produced programming for MSNBC. A petition posted by the AFL-CIO and hosted by MoveOn.org Civic Action asks the five hosts to “Please meet with these workers and take a public stand to support their right to organize” at Peacock Productions. None of the five has so far publicly addressed the issue.
Hayes, Maddow, Sharpton and O’Donnell did not comment in response to Monday inquiries (sent to MSNBC or personal email addresses, to Sharpton’s National Action Network, and to Random House, which published Maddow’s book; Random House referred the inquiry to MSNBC).
I’ve been somewhat bemused by this story before today’s news broke. The idea that any of MSNBC’s talents would want to go anywhere near that career third rail of a story always seemed too preposterous to contemplate. It’s one thing for the union to make a public appeal for MSNBC’s progressive talents to intervene or at least notice the problem. It carries absolute zero weight and has absolutely no chance of influencing NBC but it makes for good optics from the union’s standpoint. But it’s another thing entirely for any of the talent’s to fall for it and get sucked into what for them would be a lose-lose scenario. And yet Hayes has apparently done just that.
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.
And then there’s this…
But, asked about the campaign, Schultz emailed Salon, “Moveon.org has never been an ally of Ed Schultz, why should I help you with a story? Give me a reason.”
I don’t get the Moveon.org reference. What does Moveon have to do with Salon? What is Schultz referring to here? Anyone know?