Andrew Yang's War With MSNBC Is Heating Up

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Andrew Yang

MSNBC spoke with Yang's campaign over the weekend and invited him to appear on the network, THR has learned. Yang very publicly declined.

One of the more befuddling media stories of the 2020 presidential election is a seemingly growing feud between entrepreneur Andrew Yang's campaign and the left-leaning cable news network MSNBC. Even Yang called it "a bit of mystery" in a media appearance over the weekend.

Over the last several weeks, Yang has publicly called out MSNBC on numerous occasions, most recently accusing the network of not asking him enough questions in last week's Democratic primary debate. He's also complained about his inexplicable absence from onscreen graphics, which the network has acknowledged, corrected and apologized for when they've determined that a mistake was made.

Showing a keen understanding of the world of cable news competition, Yang has taken to CNN recently to attack MSNBC. "I'm not the kind of guy who takes offense easily, but at this point you have to call it like you see it," he said. "I hope that when they come clean and acknowledge that they have been suppressing and ignoring me and my campaign for months, maybe they'll actually share with us what the rationale is."

While MSNBC is unlikely to "come clean" or issue the public apology Yang has called for on Twitter, a source with knowledge of the matter told The Hollywood Reporter that someone from the network reached out to Yang's campaign over the weekend to apologize and invite him to appear.

On Twitter, Yang publicly rejected that invitation and said on Monday that "there has been no apology."

S.Y. Lee, Yang's national press secretary, confirmed to THR that the call with MSNBC took place on Saturday, but said that "MSNBC did not initiate the call, and they certainly offered no apology of any kind."

MSNBC has not commented on the matter, seemingly trying to avoid feuding publicly with the campaign.

On at least two occasions, MSNBC has acknowledged errors in onscreen graphics, most recently on Nov. 17. The error was corrected on air and in a tweet: "Earlier on UP, we aired a poll graphic that inadvertently left off @AndrewYang. This was a mistake that we've since corrected on air.  We apologize to Mr. Yang."

Ari Melber's show also apologized in September for fudging Yang's chyron, giving him the wrong first name. "Earlier tonight on The Beat we made a mistake in a segment about @AndrewYang," the show's Twitter account wrote. "While we fixed his name during the segment, we’d like to apologize, Andrew, for the error."

Yang supporters think something darker and more nefarious is going on. "After months of 'errors,' it became clear that it was either intentional or incompetence," one told THR in a Twitter message. "Neither of which reflect well on MSNBC. I'm inclined to believe it's intentional. Make a mistake once, double check yourself the next time. MSNBC has failed to do that on multiple occasions."

Progressives who have hosted at MSNBC, including The Hill's Krystal Ball and Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur, also see merit in Yang's complaints.

"His complaints are 100 percent valid," Uygur said. "MSNBC is an arm of the Democratic Party establishment. They're very clearly against outsiders. Andrew is a total outsider — that's why real people like him and the corporate media doesn't."