MSNBC contributor and presidential historian Jon Meacham was reportedly fired as a paid contributor by MSNBC after failing to disclose that he was a speechwriter for former Vice President Joe Biden before appearing on TV to comment favorably on Biden's victory speech — which he apparently had a hand in writing.
The New York Times reported Monday that Meacham assisted Biden with the victory speech he delivered Saturday night from Wilmington, Delaware. According to the Times, Meacham, a longtime friend of Biden, has previously written drafts of speeches for him and edited others, including Biden's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention earlier this year.
A Biden spokesman told the Times that the former vice president consulted many people about the content of his speech.
"President-elect Joe Biden wrote the speech he delivered to the American people on Saturday night, which laid out his vision for uniting and healing the nation," the spokesman said. "Given the significance of the speech, he consulted a number of important and diverse voices as part of his writing process, as he often does."
Meacham, who endorsed Biden in March and was a featured speaker at the Democratic convention over the summer, had been a paid contributor at MSNBC but as of Monday is no longer, the Times reports:
During the Trump years, Mr. Meacham had also been a regular presence on MSNBC and NBC News broadcasts. But as of Monday, he was not a paid contributor at the network, according to two people familiar with the decision. Mr. Meacham was expected to return to NBC as an unpaid guest and could resume his paid role next year, possibly after the inauguration, the people said. NBC declined to comment.
He even appeared on MSNBC on Saturday and was asked to give his thoughts on Biden's speech. He didn't mention that he wrote at least some of it.
Indeed, Mr. Meacham appeared on MSNBC before and after Mr. Biden's acceptance speech on Saturday. About half an hour after Mr. Biden had concluded, the anchor Brian Williams introduced Mr. Meacham by saying, "I'm not the historian that you are, and I don't have the Pulitzer that you do, but do you concur that is the way we are used to hearing from our presidents?"
"Absolutely," Mr. Meacham responded, without disclosing that he had been involved in the writing of the speech.
Meacham went on to characterize Biden's rhetoric as "poetic."
According to Mediaite, Meacham appeared on MSNBC an additional three times since Saturday without disclosing he was a speechwriter for Biden. During these appearances he was asked to analyze Biden's speech, remarking favorably on Biden.
"You know, Vice President Biden, I think, represents a kind of tonic for a toxic politics," Meacham told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace. "He's not perfect. There are vices, but there are a lot of virtues, too."