Report: Maddow Worried MSNBC Boss May Leave, Would Follow Him

Rachel Maddow / Getty Images
May 17, 2017

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow privately expressed concerns over the future of MSNBC President Phil Griffin at the news network and hinted that she will follow him out the door if he leaves.

The Daily Beast on Tuesday refuted a Huffington Post story from Sunday which suggested that MSNBC news personality Lawrence O'Donnell may be leaving the network, including a shakeup with Griffin.

A network executive told The Daily Beast that the Huffpost story is wrong and said O’Donnell and MSNBC management are negotiating "with an eye towards renewal and a new deal."

The same exec said on Tuesday that Griffin’s job is safe and that he’ll remain as MSNBC’s president "for years to come."

Griffin loyalist Rachel Maddow, who happens to be the top-rated personality in cable news, had privately expressed concern about her boss’s future and declared to colleagues in recent weeks that if Griffin leaves, she will follow him out the door.

Griffin has been running the cable news outlet for almost a decade after being named president in July 2008. Maddow has been loyal to him after he gave her her own prime-time television show on the network that same year.

Maddow is not the only person that Griffin has helped get a solo show: he was responsible for putting "All In With Chris Hayes" on the air at 8 PM, and also scheduled "The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell" in 2010.

"If they tried to get rid of Phil, I don’t think the place would catch fire, but anybody who has a show that airs on this network would not do their show, starting that night," a longtime network insider said.

O'Donnell has less than three weeks until his current four-year contract with the network is up, according to the Beast.

With less than three weeks left on his current four-year contract, which ends in early June, the 65-year-old anchor—who is MSNBC’s second highest-rated personality, right behind Maddow at 9 p.m.—had yet to hear as of Tuesday morning from Griffin or Lack on whether they want to keep his six-year-old program on the outlet’s prime-time schedule, according to a source familiar with the situation.

O’Donnell’s high-powered agent, Ari Emanuel, the co-chief executive of William Morris Endeavor, had likewise been unable to obtain clarity about MSNBC management’s intentions, according to the source.

When asked about O'Donnell's status, Griffin vaguely answered, "There are discussions going on," before declining further comment.