Lawrence O’Donnell’s short national nightmare is over.
But–to hear MSNBC’s 10 p.m. host tell it–America’s longer one, the presidency of Donald Trump, is only just beginning.
” A majority of Americans were hit with a pain on referendum night that they didn’t expect to happen. They were reeling from it for weeks ,” said the namesake of The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell .” There was a feeling of estrangement from the country they lived in, with parties pondering, how could this have happened? How could this goofy reality Tv stellar have conned his behavior into the White House? And there was a kind of massive hollow .”
“Trauma,” ” alienation ,” and “depression” — words that mark O’Donnell’s reaction to Trump’s rise–are perhaps too lurid to describe his months of anxiety and hesitation pertaining whether NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack even wished to continue airing O’Donnell’s nearly seven-year-old program.
“Tense” is possibly as good a descriptor as any for the down-to-the-wire negotiations in which O’Donnell and his William Morris Endeavor agent, Hollywood powerbroker Ari Emanuel, finally settled a brand-new contract this week, mere eras before the age-old one were supposed to lapsing on Sunday.
O’Donnell’s show, together with the rest of MSNBC’s prime-time lineup, has been enjoying historically high viewership in recent weeks–winning its time slot against the once-dominant Fox News Channel and CNN in the all-important advertising-friendly 25 -5 4 demographic–yet control was in no rushed to sweeten or even replace his deal, leading to public speculation that The Last Word was on the chopping block.
In what might have seemed like competitive schadenfreude, CNN media reporter and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter mused two weeks ago in his nightly newsletter:” Why is MSNBC plowing Lawrence O’Donnell so shabbily ?… Who let it get to this place? How did it get to this place, a chaotic public drama between a primetime multitude and his superiors ?”
” I persist completely scared and awkward by the fact that it became public ,” the 65 -year-old O’Donnell told the Daily Beast on Friday–notwithstanding that he had been preventing his 1.8 million Twitter adherents informed about his awkward environments after a May 14 Huffpost section hinted his depict was on the bubble.
” Contract expires June 4. I &# x27; ll let you know where you can watch me June 5 if it &# x27; s not msnbc. I &# x27; m sorry such a situation has become public ,” he tweeted last month.
While news floors about high-profile video contracts are moderately routine,” I’ve never been in one of those legends, and abruptly I’m in one of those stories–‘Oh Jesus. This detects terrifying ,'” O’Donnell said.
Given O’Donnell’s M.O. as a voluble pundit and pugnacious debater, it came as a astound when the rabid Democrat included:” It left home speechless. I struggled to try to see if there was something I could say, and I couldn’t figure out how to do it .”
Even today, O’Donnell insisted,” I literally do not know how to talk about it .”
As of this writing, MSNBC had yet to trumpet O’Donnell’s revamped contract in a formal press release, but the network showed the 10 p.m. host’s announcement on his Wednesday night program:” I will be sitting right here talking about the James Comey hearing and everything else that happens next week and everything that happens for the next couple of years “– although apparently his contract guides longer than that.
” Yes I will be saying hi to Rachel @ maddow at 10 pm for the foreseeable future ,” O’Donnell eventually tweeted, referring to his top-rated 9 p. m. anchor who generally opens The Last-place Word with a brief colloquy with her colleague.
O’Donnell communicated by phone Friday before he headed to the publishing industry convening, Book Expo 2017, to promote Playing With Fire , his exhaustive consider of the tumultuous 1968 presidential expedition roiled by a raging conflict in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, hasten riots, violent declarations in the street, and the rapid deterioration of previously abode societal criteria. Penguin Press plans to publish O’Donnell’s book in November.
” It was the darkest instant in the history of general elections since the Civil War ,” he said , noting further that the book inquires a variety of incidents and situations that foreshadowed the current polarization and incivility in the American body politic.
” The first convict of the book is about Roger Ailes rally Richard Nixon in the makeup chair of the Mike Douglas Show, ” O &# x27 ;D onnell said. “Ailes became a much more important influence than “the mens” he facilitated elect president of the United States; he had a much more lasting outcome on our politics and what’s become of our politics than any other person in that safarus .”
O’Donnell’s career, up till now, has spanned politics, plan and showbiz: He was, in the late 1980 s and early 1990 s, a top staffer for New York’s late Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, helping formulate taxation policies; a novelist and story editor for the hit’ 90 s sequence The West Wing , and creator of NBC’s short-lived 2003 drama Mr. Sterling about an idealistic newcomer senator represented by Josh Brolin.
O’Donnell has even operated as relevant actors , notably playing polygamist Mormon leader Bill Henrickson’s attorney in the HBO succession Big Love . Two decades ago, it was Andy Lack, in his previous incarnation as president of NBC News, who recruited O’Donnell as an on-air political commentator when MSNBC launched in 1996.
” I’ve been signing contracts my whole life–I’ve surely been signing MSNBC contracts since it started–and no one’s ever known it ,” O’Donnell said.” That’s the way it’s supposed to be .”
Asked if he’s happy with his new MSNBC deal, O’Donnell parried,” I don’t even wishes to made an adjective on it .”
Repeating what has become his personal adage since he existed a ghastly car clang in 2014, O’Donnell swore:” I’m lucky to be alive–that never going on around here. I now find lucky to be doing this present because of our times. This various kinds of picture has never been more important. Before the last election, if you’d asked me about the importance of this kind of show, I would react,’ That would depend on the day.’…Now there is no doubt about the importance of the various kinds of coverage we’re doing .”
In the aftermath of the outraging ballot sequel, O’Donnell said, he was in a state of mind that–in his description of it–sounds very much like heartbreak.
He had been telling his viewers for years, ever since Trump’s noxious birther campaign in 2011 that wondered the legitimacy of President obama, that the reality show billionaire was a storyteller and a jester who never had any intention of extending for the conference of presidents, let alone any luck of triumphing it.
” I actually did not know how to do that establish after that election–and I knew I had to do it ,” O’Donnell said, explaining that he didn’t even distinguish his own country, a strange and agitating nation that could employ such a husband in the White House.” I likewise knew I didn’t feel like talking about it. I would have preferred talking about anything else .”
But, wielding his space through his stages of grief–moving from regret to feelings to credence –” I built the breakthrough that doing the substantiate every night was pretty good remedy ,” O’Donnell narrated,” because I actually didn’t have time to slip into the humor of loss .”
O’Donnell said his breakthrough time came on Jan. 12, when a Quinnipiac Poll was released indicating that a majority of Americans, even some Republicans and Trump voters, didn’t much like, respect or trust Obama’s successor.
” It was hugely important to me when I accompanied that ballot. It solidified for me how the two countries saw this president–and, in early January, people did not know that they were not alone ,” O’Donnell said , noting further that, after all, Hillary Clinton received three million more referendums than Trump, who grew” an accidental chairman” courtesy of the quirks of the Electoral College.” Beings had get devastated by countries around the world they did not understand, that elected this person they don’t understand .”
That night, Jan. 12, O’Donnell devoted the top of his show to the theme, “You’re not alone”; channeling the opposition to the 45 th chairman has been his organizing principle ever since.
” Now we don’t have to tell anyone in America that you’re not alone if you disapprove of Donald Trump, and now the country is living with a uncertainty in their presidency that it has not had since 1974″ — when Nixon was forced to renounce to avoid impeachment amid the increasing Watergate scandal.
” The vigor of the word period is unlike anything that has in the past existed in its own history of cable information ,” said O’Donnell, chiming genuinely galvanized by the prospect of owning a ringside accommodate and bully pulpit over the next couple of years.” I’ve often pondered what it would have been like if we’d had cable word during the course of its Vietnam War and Watergate ,” he said.” And now we know .”