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Seder at Netroots Nation 2008
in Austin, Texas
Samuel Lincoln Seder|
November 28, 1966
New York City, New York, U.S.
Connecticut College (BA)|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, talk show host|
|Spouse(s)||Nicole Cattell (Separated 2017)|
Samuel Lincoln Seder (born November 28, 1966) is an American comedian, writer, actor, film director, television producer, and progressive talk radio host. His works include the film Who's the Caboose? (1997) starring Sarah Silverman and Seder as well as the television shows Beat Cops (2001) and Pilot Season (2004). He also appeared in Next Stop Wonderland (1998). Seder also made guest appearances on Spin City (1997), Sex and the City (2000) America Undercover (2005), and Maron (2015). He voices Hugo on the animated comedy series Bob's Burgers.
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Seder currently works, or has worked, for multiple liberal and progressive networks/programs throughout the course of his career. In March 2004, Seder became co-host of Air America Radio's The Majority Report alongside Janeane Garofalo.
Garofalo gave positive comments about working with Seder after she departed the show on July 2006. Air America later renewed Seder's contract, giving him top billing and retooling the program as The Sam Seder Show. The show was also moved to a time slot with higher viewership traffic.
As part of Air America President Mark J. Green's restructuring plan to transform Air America into a profitable leader in progressive talk radio, called "Air America 2.0", The Sam Seder Show was cancelled on April 13, 2007 and replaced by WOR Radio Network late night radio show host Lionel. Seder was relegated to a Sunday show entitled Seder on Sunday. The plan immediately backfired. Lionel lost two-thirds of Seder's live affiliates, live streaming and most of the audience within a year of assuming the timeslot. The final Seder on Sunday was broadcast on June 1, 2008.
Seder also occasionally substituted for Randi Rhodes when Rhodes was on Air America (becoming the number one sub after KLSD morning host Stacy Taylor lost his job when the station changed its format), as well as Mike Malloy on The Mike Malloy Show on the Nova M Radio network. In 2008 he also began a collaboration with Marc Maron on Maron v. Seder, an hour-long video webcast. In January 2009, Maron v. Seder was renamed Breakroom Live with Maron & Seder and aired live from the kitchen in the Air America offices weekdays at 3PM Eastern. Seder and Maron also hosted a post-show chat with viewers after each episode. Air America Media cancelled Breakroom Live with Maron & Seder in July 2009..
In November 2009 Seder hosted a pilot for NBC of an American version of Have I Got News For You. Three years later in November 2012 it was announced Seder would again be the host of an American version of the show, this time on TBS.
In November 2010, Seder began an independent online podcast, also called the Majority Report. The format closely matches the previous Air America program, with politically oriented commentary by Seder and interviews with various guests. Seder plans to offer premium subscriptions to the podcasts, which allow subscribers access to expanded commentary not on the basic podcast, as well as DVDs of the 2004 TV series Pilot Season, produced and directed by Seder, starring Sarah Silverman and originally broadcast on the now-defunct Trio cable network; the series was a sequel to Seder's independent film Who's the Caboose?
In late 2010, Seder began occasionally serving as substitute host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann when Olbermann was on vacation. In December 2010, Seder also became co-host of the nationally syndicated progressive radio interview program Ring of Fire, co-hosted by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Florida-based attorney Mike Papantonio.
Secret Service detainment
On September 1, 2004, Seder was briefly detained by the United States Secret Service during his live, on-site coverage of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden. Shortly after Zell Miller gave his speech, Seder began searching (with a sign in hand) on the convention floor for a willing homosexual Republican to interview live on radio. It was not long before he was physically removed from the floor and after brief questioning, was asked (or according to some, "strongly encouraged") to leave the convention. Seder later commented that his wearing of a lapel pin that he had been given by a Secret Service agent at the Democratic National Convention earlier that year had kept him from being ejected from the convention completely.
Polanski tweet controversy
Article by Mike Cernovich
On November 28, 2017, American alt-right social media personality, writer, and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich published a post on Medium that resurfaced a deleted tweet Seder wrote in 2009 joking about convicted statutory rapist and fugitive film director Roman Polanski. The tweet read, "Don't care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene." Cernovich insisted the tweet proved Seder tacitly endorsed Polanski's sex crime. He then approached multiple journalists and news outlets, including MSNBC, to break the story.
Seder found out about the brewing controversy the same evening en route to a supermarket after being contacted by MSNBC Senior Vice President of Communications Errol Cockfield Jr. asking him to explain the tweet. Seder replied to Cockfield in an email explaining the point being made in the tweet and the context in which he wrote it. Seder also provided other tweets supporting his claim.
The next day, on November 29, 2017, Seder received a voicemail from Cockfield indicating MSNBC's upper management was seriously considering cutting ties with him. Seder responded that MSNBC was making a mistake and that, "there's no story here." Seder further warned Cockfield that if they moved forward with the termination, "You guys are going to be the story." Seder also requested a formal termination email. Seder never received the email, leading him to believe that this employment status was still undecided.
On Sunday, December 3, 2017, Seder was notified by Jon Levine of TheWrap that they had been contacted by MSNBC who had decided to terminate Seder's contract and were about to break the story through their own publication. Seder immediately sent Cockfield an inquiry regarding his status. Cockfield, at first, did not have a status update but later confirmed MSNBC was, in fact, dropping Seder.
Firing by MSNBC
The next day, on December 4, 2017, TheWrap announced that MSNBC had elected to sever ties with Seder by not renewing his contract (due to expire in February 2018) due to the controversial tweet. Seder defended the tweet by pointing out that, taken in context of the current events around the time he posted it, it was a satiric response to a petition urging Polanski's release from detention in Switzerland. That he was, in fact, mocking Polanski's apologists. An anonymous MSNBC source defended the termination, "It gives us pause when we see alt-right figures whipping up attention about our action but the reality is Seder made a rape joke." After news of the termination broke, Cernovich released a Twitter video celebrating his triumph.[N 1]
By then, Seder noted that advertisers on The Majority Report with Sam Seder podcast were also being contacted and pressured by Cernovich and his team to cut ties with the show over the tweet. In response, Seder launched a GoFundMe campaign to ensure the show is funded if the advertisers decided to bail. In an episode of the podcast titled, "I'm Under Attack By the Nazi Alt-Right", Seder said, "this smear involves the willful misinterpretation of a tweet that I posted in 2009" and that he will "never be ashamed of criticizing those who would excuse the predation of women or girls."
Seder revealed plans to use a portion of the GoFundMe proceeds to produce a three-minute video educating people on Cernovich's tactics. He surmised this was retribution for his frequent criticism of US President Donald Trump as well as Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore who was accused of sexual assault.[N 2] Further, Seder chided MSNBC's decision to terminate his employment concluding, "I think they’re afraid of those people."[N 3]
The news of Seder's dismissal received immediate backlash throughout the country. Over 12,000 people signed a petition protesting Seder's termination, arguing that Cernovich had acted in malice and was deliberately mischaracterizing the tweet. AV Club wrote that "MSNBC has now fully bought into that smear campaign [...] whose openly stated goal is the destruction of news outlets just like it through the use of blatantly manipulative trolling techniques. Mother Jones rebuked MSNBC for capitulating "to the demands of a lunatic conservative."[N 4] Huffington Post chided that Cernovich was now MSNBC's new "De Facto Ombudsman." MSNBC primetime anchor Chris Hayes tweeted, "The entire culture and our politics are now dominated by people who have weaponized bad faith and shamelessness." Hayes tweeted several times against the decision by his own network, including: "Also, I reiterate my longstanding position that people shouldn't be fired for a tweet, *particularly* one that is obviously being read in manifestly bad faith." Actress Sarah Silverman also tweeted in support of Seder.[N 5]
Rehiring by MSNBC
There was considerable dissent within MSNBC over the termination. Employees worried firing Seder incentivized other far-right personalities to launch similar smear campaigns. A senior MSNBC employee characterized the capitulation as "really weak" and "pathetic." MSNBC's management itself was unsettled by the celebratory reaction from the far-right. On December 7, 2017, MSNBC decided to reverse their decision to terminate Seder's employment. MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement, "Sometimes you just get one wrong, and that’s what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons—because we don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. But we’ve heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward." In response, Seder issued a statement while accepting his job back:
I appreciate MSNBC’s thoughtful reconsideration and willingness to understand the cynical motives of those who intentionally misrepresented my tweet for their own toxic, political purposes [...] We are experiencing an important and long overdue moment of empowerment for the victims of sexual assault and of reckoning for their perpetrators. I’m proud that MSNBC and its staff have set a clear example of the need to get it right.[N 6]
Columbia Journalism Review cited the incident as an example of a broader pattern of far-right media personalities using online smear campaigns to get mainstream journalists fired. Cernovich, who also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, insisted "date rape doesn't exist" and was himself arrested for rape (which he plead down to misdemeanor battery), acknowledged that "some are saying Seder was making a joke or being sarcastic." However, he still insisted he didn't misrepresent the tweet and that he simply "reported on what [Seder] said." He later admitted that the whole incident was a stunt[N 7] while claiming victory explaining, retroactively, it was meant to bring attention to what he perceived was a double standard and a lack of "diversity of viewpoint"[N 8] in the media. He also sarcastically tweeted that he was "thrilled" MSNBC offered Seder his job back while threatening to "bring Sam Seder's Tweet out every time the media goes after someone else for a Tweet."[N 9] On December 9, 2017, having failed to get Seder fired, Cernovich claimed that his wife was being stalked at the behest of the media.
In the closing minutes of their Wednesday, March 9, 2005 show, Garofalo announced that Seder and his wife Nikki were expecting a daughter. This event in his life slightly colored and affected Seder's commentary. On more than one occasion he has voiced concerns about just how he was going to explain elements of this world to his daughter as she grows up, after witnessing actions by the Republican Party that Seder felt might adversely affect her future. On August 9, 2005, Nikki Seder gave birth to a daughter, Myla Rae Seder.
On March 7, 2013, the family gave birth to their second child, a son named Saul Arthur Seder.
On April 27th, 2018, Seder announced on his daily podcast, The Majority Report with Sam Seder, that he and his wife were separated.
- All American Girl TV actor (1994)
- The Show TV actor (1996)
- The Big Fall actor (1996)
- Who's the Caboose? actor, director, co-writer, co-producer (1997)
- Spin City TV actor (1997)
- Next Stop Wonderland actor (1998)
- Home Movies TV voiceover (1999)
- Sex and the City TV actor (2000)
- Happy Accidents actor (2000)
- Endsville actor (2000)
- Home Movies (TV series) Voice of Fenton Mewley and other smaller roles (2001-2004)
- Beat Cops actor writer producer (2001)
- Saddle Rash TV voiceover (2002)
- I'm with Busey director (2003)
- Pilot Season TV actor, director, writer, producer (2004)
- America Undercover TV actor (2005)
- Jesus Camp cameo (2006)
- Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil TV voiceover (2007)
- Assy McGee TV voiceover & writer (2008)
- Bob's Burgers TV voiceover (2011-)
- "Thank you to everybody who emailed MSNBC," Cernovich said in a video he posted on Twitter. "Thank you to all of you. You're heroes. You're heroes because you emailed MSNBC and you let them know about the tweet. You let them know the people will be heard."
- Seder explained Cernovich's ploy thusly: "If they succeed in getting me fired or scaring my advertisers away, they will continue until they have silenced anyone who’d criticize Roy Moore, criticize President [Donald] Trump or criticize the conservative movement."
- "According to Seder, he and MSNBC management never had a serious discussion about the tweet, what it meant and whether it posed a problem for MSNBC social-media standards. "If there was any conversation about the tweet," says Seder, "it had nothing to do with substance. It was, ‘This is blowing up.'" And from what Seder can tell, his position with the network didn’t much concern the company’s top managers. "I only spoke to the PR guy and they only fired me after there was an imminent story," says Seder. An MSNBC spokesman responds that the company requested Seder’s written defense of his tweet, and then considered that defense in reaching its decision on the contract renewal. Seder’s conclusion: "I think they’re afraid of those people."
- Mother Jones wrote: "thanks to the demands of a lunatic conservative, they cut off Sam Seder for a single lame joke made on Twitter in 2009."
- Sarah Silverman's tweet: "Yo @msnbc ur gonna let Mr Pizzagate be ur moral compass?"
- Seder further elaborated on this statement in a phone interview with The New York Times: "I think [MSNBC] messed up, and I think they hopefully learned a lesson that you have to make an assessment on the substance. Media outlets in general have been very reluctant to do that, and I think it’s become so much more important in this era, both because of technology and because of, frankly, the depravity of some elements of our society."
- "The left isn't going to stop going through our tweets so we aren't going to stop going through theirs," Cernovich said. "I wish we would get over people trying to find someone saying a naughty thing. I've been saying that for years. And nobody wants to listen. So fine, we will play by the same rules."
- "EVERY media article has defended Sam Seder's right to make child rape ‘jokes’ that would get anyone else fired, but yeah there is no media narrative at all, and there's totally a diversity of viewpoint in the media. Yes, sure thing guys, we totally buy that." —Mike Cernovich
- "I'm thrilled MSNBC has made the decision that people shouldn't be fired over satirical tweets," Cernovich said on Twitter. "This rule will surely be applied equally to all sides, and if it's not, we will bring Sam Seder's Tweet out every time the media goes after someone else for a Tweet."
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Jensen, K. Thor. "Inside Donald Trump's Twitter-Bot Fan Club". New York.
- Cernovich, Mike (2017-11-28). "MSNBC Contributor Sam Seder Endorses Polanki's Sex Crimes in Now Deleted Tweet". Medium. A Medium Corporation. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
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- O'Neal, Sean. "MSNBC cuts ties with Sam Seder after giving in to "alt-right" smear campaign". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- "MSNBC cuts off Sam Seder over a single lame joke from eight years ago". Mother Jones. Foundation For National Progress. Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- Feinberg, Ashley (2017-12-06). "This Is MSNBC's De Facto Ombudsman". Huffington Post. Oath Inc. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
- Hayes, Chris (2017-12-04). "Also, I reiterate my longstanding position that people shouldn't be fired for a tweet, *particularly* one that is obviously being read in manifestly bad faith". Retrieved 2017-12-05.
- "MSNBC Reverses Course on Contributor Sam Seder". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
- Vernon, Pete (2017-12-05). "The media today: Trump's 'fake news' attacks have global impact". Columbia Journalism Review. Columbia University. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
- "My wife is being stalked, and the media is encouraging this campaign of terror". Twitter. 2017-12-09. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
- Seder, Sam (March 7, 2013). "My son born at 5:36 AM today. Mommy & baby both healthy!". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
- Seder, Sam; Sherrill, Stephen (2006), F.U.B.A.R.: America's Right-Wing Nightmare, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-186364-6
- Scher, Bill; Garofalo, Janeane; Seder, Sam (2006), Wait! Don't Move to Canada: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy to Win Back America, Rodale, ISBN 9781594863967