MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan has been one of the strongest critics of Israel in the mainstream media during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, but it’s nothing new for the hard-left anchor who has never been shy about offering strident commentary.
During the conflict, he has consistently voiced hostility toward Israel, which he has long opposed as an “illegal” occupying power of Palestinians.
While with The Intercept, he frequently blistered the country, blaming it for the rise of Hamas in the first place and defending the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against its critics.
While he has unapologetically been a critic of Israel and its handling of the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he apologized in the past for comments a reporter resurfaced over the weekend.
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Inflammatory remarks he made in 2009 before becoming an MSNBC personality began circulating online again, when he compared non-Muslims to “animals” and linked homosexuals to “pedophiles” and “sexual deviants.” New York Post reporter Jon Levine said it’s “hard to imagine MSNBC allowing someone on television who said similar things about a different religion.”
“We know that keeping the moral high ground is key. Once we lose the moral high ground, we are no different from the rest of the non-Muslims, from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfill any desire,” Hasan said in one of the unearthed clips.
In 2019, Hasan apologized for those comments, calling them “dumb offensive ranty stuff” and admitted that he said “extreme-sounding things” as a young man.
“I have always regretted the dumb and offensive comments I made in my 20s, on atheism and homosexuality. They still embarrass me, but they haven’t been representative of my beliefs for over a decade,” he told TheWrap at the time.
But his controversial comments didn’t end there. In 2021, Hasan rushed to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who suggested the U.S. and Israel were just as guilty of “war crimes” as terrorist groups like Hamas and the Taliban.
“Look, Americans get very upset when our nation is accused of war crimes, but I’m sorry to break this to you, our nation has done some pretty awful things abroad, and we have to be able to talk about them,” Hasan wrote at the time.
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During the 2019 uproar over Omar’s antisemitic rhetoric, Hasan downplayed the controversy, saying the Democratic lawmaker “maybe unwittingly echoed tropes” but directed most of his ire at then-President Trump and Republicans as well as the media’s coverage of her comments.
“She hasn’t said anything about Jews. She has not said one word about Jews,” Hasan argued, then an MSNBC guest. “She talked about supporters of Israel insisting that politicians in the U.S. should show allegiance to Israel and that’s kind of undeniable. I mean, that’s been reported on for years… A lot of the good-faith criticism is based on kind of misreporting of what she’s said and done.”
He also compared past Israeli airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza to Russia bombing Ukraine in March 2022 in the early weeks of the ongoing European war.
It’s not just his commentary on Israel and Islam that has raised eyebrows. His own journalistic credibility was drawn into question earlier this year when he was accused of plagiarizing a piece arguing in favor of parents spanking their children.
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Hasan, who worked at Al Jazeera before joining MSNBC, recently held a combative interview with Israeli advisor Mark Regev. On November 16, prior to Israel and Hamas reaching a deal to free some of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, Hasan accused Israel of turning down a similar deal.
“Sorry, Mehdi, that’s just disinformation. There was not a real option for a deal before the grand operation. It was looked at seriously but Hamas put nothing on the table that could be worked with and so that’s just not correct to say there was an option,” Regev said before noting that a deal could still be worked out because military pressure was “making Hamas understand” they need to release hostages.
Regev then scolded Hasan for not informing viewers that Hamas controls the Gaza Health Ministry, which has been putting out statistics related to how many people have been killed during the war.
“You have to say the ‘Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry,” Regev said before Hasan shot back, “You can say that, I don’t have to say what you ask me to say.”
“Please, tell the viewers the truth, that information is provided by Hamas,” Regev said.
Hasan also accused the Israeli government of killing children and of spreading propaganda and false information during the tense exchange.
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Hasan has condemned the brutality of the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7 and scolded opponents of Israel who downplay or ignore the group’s atrocities from that day, writing on X last month, “Too many people on this hellsite and elsewhere have weirdly & cruelly decided that opposing Israel’s war in Gaza requires them to try & deny the sheer scale of Hamas brutality on Oct 7th. It doesn’t.”
Hasan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.