MSNBC Benches Contributor Who Smeared Bernie Sanders Staffers

Justin Baragona, Maxwell Tani
Ed Rode

Following MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson’s inflammatory remarks about supporters and campaign staffers of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the academic has been temporarily benched by the network, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast. 

In recent months, Johnson—a fixture of the network’s Democratic primary analysis—has drawn considerable heat for his relentlessly anti-Sanders commentary on MSNBC, which has also come under fire from the left for its skeptical and largely negative coverage of the democratic-socialist senator. 

During an interview last week on SiriusXM’s The Karen Hunter Show, Johnson claimed “racist white liberals” support Sanders and that the senator has done “nothing for intersectionality.” 

The MSNBC contributor then took aim at the women of color who work for Sanders. “I don’t care how many people from the island of misfit black girls you throw out there to defend you,” Johnson exclaimed.

The remark prompted Sanders’ national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray to retort on Twitter: “I hope we can have political disputes without engaging in open racism and sexism. This misogynoir is disappointing, but not surprising from @DrJasonJohnson.”

Johnson’s over-the-top remarks also sparked wider calls for MSNBC to fire him, but the network has not officially responded. 

Johnson’s temporary sidelining included him not being involved in coverage of last weekend’s Nevada caucuses or the post-game coverage of Tuesday evening’s South Carolina debate, which aired on CBS. In an email to media outlets hyping its post-debate plans, Johnson’s name was nowhere to be found.

The punishment appears to have also cost Johnson his chance to be on-air during the network’s coverage of this past Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, which Sanders won in a landslide.

Johnson’s absence has been noticeable, as he has become a staple of MSNBC’s Democratic primary analysis roster. Prior to his benching, he made nearly 40 appearances on the network in 2020 alone. 

Besides being regularly featured on high-profile programs like Morning Joe, Deadline: White House, The Beat with Ari Melber, and The 11th Hour, MSNBC turned to him to provide analysis during last month’s impeachment trial, the early-state primary votes, and several Democratic primary debates.

In fact, during last week’s Nevada debate, Johnson was a fixture on the network’s panels, beginning the day with an appearance on Morning Joe and staying on through MSNBC’s post-debate analysis, which didn’t wrap until after midnight.

His most recent MSNBC appearance came during the Feb. 21 broadcast of The Last Word, which aired hours before his fateful radio interview that resulted in his benching.

MSNBC declined to comment for this story.

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