Inside Move: ‘Donahue’ decked by hard right

Net apparently didn't care for host's leftist politics

Cable news channel MSNBC may have taken a hard swing to the right, but the left is punching back.

As the net fights off activists opposed to its recent hire of shock-jock Michael Savage, some MSNBC insiders say conservative politics had a heavy hand in the cancellation of Phil Donahue’s 8 p.m. program — the highest-rated show on the net.

The show saw big boosts in ratings when it stacked panels with hardliners and hawks and featured agenda-driven topics like immigration.

At the same time, network management apparently didn’t care for the anchor’s left-leaning politics, a contention that echoes a recently leaked internal memo that found Donahue’s politics would not have been palatable to auds in wartime.

“He was handcuffed,” Donahue ally and activist politico Ralph Nader tells Variety. “They ensured that three guests had to be right-wingers in order to discuss right-wing topics.”

Insiders claim at editorial meetings, program producers followed a formula that for every one liberal they put on a panel, they needed two conservatives — one, presumably, to compensate for moderator Donahue.

When Michael Moore was suggested as a guest, one staffer quipped the gadfly filmmaker would require four conservatives.

Management, though, is staying above the fray.

“Politics had nothing to do with the cancellation,” says MSNBC prexy Erik Sorenson. “It was all business.”