MSNBC's Larry O'Donnell Confesses: I 'Stupidly' Jumped Into Fight on Trump's NBC Paycheck

July 20th, 2015 11:09 PM

MSNBC’s hot-headed host Lawrence O’Donnell is backpedaling recent comments he made when he questioned how much NBC paid Donald Trump for starring in The Apprentice. O’Donnell, host of The Last Word, was on Morning Joe recently when he told show host Joe Scarborough that Trump was a “hired hand” and lied about how much NBC paid him:

Let me explain something here. Donald Trump didn’t even make $1 million for his first year. NBC, the last time Trump said this is how much money, NBC was forced to release a statement saying he is lying. That’s what they said. When he said that he was making $130 million for two years of an NBC show which no one has made and especially in that nonsense category that he is in. He was a hired hand. He had no profit in the Mark Burnett show. That’s who gets the profit from that show. There is not much profit. TV is the rerun business, syndication business. Trump has been one of the lowest paid people to have an hour long show on NBC.

When Trump heard of O’Donnell’s accusation, he called into Morning Joe and challenged O’Donnell to a bet.  Scarborough said:

Donald Trump called in — He said he wants to bet a certain host on MSNBC [O’Donnell] that came on and called him a liar — and said that if his salary is not certified to be correct, he will bet a year of his salary versus a year of said host’s salary.

At first, O’Donnell didn’t respond to Trump’s challenge, however, from the early morning hours of Morning Joe to the evening hours of his show, The Last Word, O’Donnell changed his mind.  He used his show to explain his change of heart:

I got myself hung up on the least important thing about Donald Trump, the future president, how much money he has earned in TV. Donald is now bothered by my disbelief that I’ve expressed about how much money NBC paid him as the star of The Apprentice series. And today Donald came up with a better idea than threatening to sue me this time. He challenged me to bet 100 percent of my salary that I am wrong about his NBC income. Now where I come from, no one settled their disagreements with bets because none of us had any money to bet...So, no, Donald, there won’t be any bet because I would never bet about anything.…

And, I might be wrong. I have never said I know exactly how much Donald Trump made for the entire series. I don’t know. I’ve made semi-educated guesses about it and I don’t really care very much about it. I do not really care.

And, so, after I offered my guesses about it last night on this program and tried to have some fun with it. James Fallows wisely tweeted that Donald's TV income does not matter and I immediately agreed with him on Twitter. I stupidly jumped into talking about it again on Morning Joe today where I, in effect, hijacked a few minutes of the show to talk about this thing that I know doesn’t matter.

O’Donnell apologized for taking away air time on real matters: “When I finally shut up about this stuff this morning on the show, only then did I realize that I had been eating up time that should have been devoted to Joe and Mika`s interview with April Ryan, who had just joined the panel to discuss her very important question to President Obama yesterday in the press conference about Bill Cosby. Now, I am really sorry that I wasted the time that should have been focused on what April Ryan had to say.”

Ryan defended her Cosby question in the middle of a press conference about Iranian nuclear ambitions: “Nothing is beyond bounds to ask the president of the United States and that definitely was a presidential question.”