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“We are looking into the report about Harold Ford Jr.,” a network spokesman said in a statement. “During that time he won’t be a guest on MSNBC.”
A source familiar with the situation told The Hollywood Reporter that Ford talked with MSNBC and agreed that it would make sense for him to not go on the air right now. Ford has not been suspended, and it’s not clear when and how MSNBC will make a final decision about his employment.
A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley said that Ford was “terminated for conduct inconsistent with our values and in violation of our policies.” The company’s human resources department investigated claims lodged against Ford before coming to the decision to fire him, according to the report.
But Ford’s lawyer, John Singer of Singer Deutsch LLP, put out a statement saying that Morgan Stanley “has still not told Harold directly of his termination” and has not given Singer a reason for the termination. “This all demonstrates how this was a matter of convenience during a hyper-sensitive time and not based on real facts,” Singer said in the statement.
Ford, a former Democratic congressman who appears regularly on Morning Joe, put out a lengthy statement denying the incident mentioned in the report, when Ford is said to have “forcibly grabbed” a woman one night in Manhattan and then continued to contact her by email.
According to the source familiar with the situation, Ford did not learn the specifics of the allegation that led to his termination until he read HuffPost’s report.
“This simply did not happen,” Ford said in the statement. “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life. Having drinks and dinner for work is part of my job, and all of my outreach to the news reporter making these false allegations was professional and at the direction of my firm for business purposes. I support and have tremendous respect for the brave women now speaking out in this important national dialogue. False claims like this undermine the real silence breakers. I will now be bringing legal action against the reporter who has made these false claims about me, as well as Morgan Stanley for improper termination.”
The case hinges on two interactions between Ford and a Reuters reporter in February 2014. Ford initially met with the reporter for breakfast to discuss a story about a Morgan Stanley executive. The two met again the following week for drinks and an impromptu dinner. Ford followed up and proposed another meet-up. The reporter turned down his request and asked him not to contact her again.
Separately on Thursday, MSNBC changed course and announced that contributor Sam Seder is “welcome on our air,” a few days after he was told that his contract, which expires in February, would not be re-upped and he had no additional scheduled appearances on the network.
10:45 a.m. This story has been updated to include more details about the allegations and about Ford’s interactions with MSNBC and Morgan Stanley.
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