Scoops: Oprah/Malcolm Nance and MSNBC

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Scoop: Oprah Had Lunch with Mayor Pete Buttigieg

This morning, the media and political world woke up to Oprah Winfrey gracing the cover of The Hollywood Reporter and a Q&A with the icon by THR’s TV editor Lacey Rose.

In the Q&A, Winfrey noted that she’s been studying up on the 2020 Democratic field, including one particular candidate. “Right now, I’m studying the field,” Oprah told THR. “I’m reading ‘Shortest Way Home’ by [Pete Buttigieg], I call him Buttabeep, Buttaboop.”

Well, it looks as if she’s doing more than studying up on him. I learned this afternoon from a well-placed California source that Mayor Pete had lunch with Oprah recently. Another source confirmed that the lunch took place on Sunday at the home of a mutual friend in Los Angeles.

Outside of a few supportive statements and noting “I’m with her,” in interviews, Winfrey largely stayed out of the 2016 election. But it appears that given her comments to The Hollywood Reporter and the news that she had lunch with Buttigieg, she may be willing to participate in the 2020 election in a similar fashion as she did in 2008, when she endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama in a heated primary.

While the success of Obama in that primary and in the general election can’t be ascribed to one thing, there is no doubt that Winfrey’s endorsement brought a surge of energy to his candidacy.

Scooplet: Where Did Malcolm Nance Go?

Until an appearance on “AM Joy” this weekend, MSNBC’s national security analyst Malcolm Nance had been missing from the network, having made his last appearance April 13. Even when the Mueller report came out April 18, Nance was nowhere to be found.

Nance’s absence on air was met with a flood of tweets from his fans demanding to know why he wasn’t on air discussing the Mueller report. Progressive talk show host Stephanie Miller tweeted, “Wow @MSNBCPR looks like my 6 mill listeners and all my regular guests/celeb friends/your core audience w their huge twitter #s are really PISSED @MalcolmNance is missing from @MSNBC.”

The creator of #OscarsSoWhite, April Reign, who is a diversity and inclusion consultant, tweeted: “Why is the ONLY Black counterintelligence expert on the sidelines at this crucial juncture when discussing the Mueller Report, Trump, and Russia’s interference? This isn’t a coincidence. #WhereIsMalcolmNance”

And even “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill tweeted: “BRING BACK @MalcolmNance ASAP!!!”

Nance returned to the air this weekend, appearing on “AM Joy.” And while a network source told me on April 23 that Nance remained under contract with the network and he would appear soon, it seems there is more to the story.

Sources tell me that bookers at MSNBC were told in two emails, the first sent on March 28 and the second the week the Mueller report was released, that if they wanted to have Nance on their programs, they would have to first check in with the director of booking for MSNBC.

This on its own is not atypical. Networks require their bookers to check in with the head of booking when it comes to certain analysts and contributors to ensure that a paid contributor/analyst hasn’t been appearing on the network too much or when it involves a high-profile person; networks don’t want to have their top contributors appearing on lower-rated shows, so they place a higher-level booker in charge of that person’s bookings.

But I’m told by several sources familiar with the matter that this is not the case with Nance, who has been a ubiquitous presence on MSNBC, appearing on shows all over the network’s schedule.

I’ve been told that the week the Mueller report came out, Nance was booked for programs but was unbooked by MSNBC brass.

A big reason Nance was effectively put on ice by the network, sources say, is he has been a source of controversy in the minds of MSNBC executives.

A Daily Beast story published March 27 about MSNBC’s decline in ratings since the Barr letter was released noted that Nance would make hyperbolic predictions about the Mueller investigation. The next morning, the first email ordering bookers to consult with higher-ups before booking Nance was sent out.

It’s important to note that Nance continued to appear on the network after that email was sent.

A source familiar with the matter also tells me that a tweet that Nance posted April 11 raised eyebrows at the network. The tweet was actually a “quote tweet” of Edward Snowden, who was tweeting about the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Nance quote-tweeted Assange and said, “A TRAITOR SAYS WHAT NOW? I can’t hear you over my Schadenfreude meltdown. Someday soon you’ll get a swift Blackbag rendition by your FSB Secret Police friends & I’ll be waiting outside EDVA courthouse! #IWouldWorry”

MSNBC/NBC executives saw the tweet as unprofessional and hyperbolic and decided that Nance needed some time off before returning, the source said.

Nance is back on the network now, but I am told there is still a sense of frustration with Nance’s allies that he was unfairly treated, particularly since former CIA Director John Brennan, also an MSNBC analyst, made similar predictions himself and wasn’t treated like Nance was.