Ford Asked For Time Off From NBC

ford mtp Ford Asked For Time Off From NBCOn the morning of January 15, when Harold Ford Jr. appeared for one of his regular guest gigs on Morning Joe, Willie Geist introduced the prospective senator as, simply: “MSNBC political analyst and chairman of the D.L.C., Harold Ford Jr.”

“Doing nothing else, just hanging out,” quipped Joe Scarborough.

And then Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times piped up with the obvious question: “Are you going to keep on calling him a political analyst if he gets to the Senate?”

“He’s made no such announcement so we’ll keep calling him that until that day,” Mr. Geist replied.

“So presumptuous, so presumptuous,” Mr. Scarborough scolded.

But with Mr. Ford increasingly acting like a candidate, Ms. Freeland’s question became increasingly less presumptuous. And, at some point a few weeks ago, Mr. Ford and NBC agreed to suspend Mr. Ford’s contract, according to Politico.

A spokesman for Mr. Ford, Tammy Sun, explained to The Observer in an email: “Harold Ford asked for the leave of absence from NBC as a paid analyst while he weighs a run for the U.S Senate. Consistent with that, he also asked for an unpaid leave of absence from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch while he travels the state, listens to voters and weighs an opportunity to serve them in the Senate.”

As Michael Calderone notes, suspending Mr. Ford’s contract might not solve all the thorny issues.

Although Ford isn’t getting paid right now, there may still be questions about his relationship with the network if he’s regularly booked on its broadcast and cable shows, or if it appears he’s getting preferential treatment in relationship to senator (and possible primary opponent) Kirsten Gillibrand.

It was a sympathetic platform, while it lasted. 

“If you need help in Elmira, New York or the Upper West Side, I’m your man. I control Columbus and Broadway from 64th to 78th,” Mr. Scarborough said at the end of that same segment. “I would knock on every door on the Upper West Side; they love me up there.”