Mehdi Hasan launches his own media company after leaving MSNBC

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The pugnacious liberal commentator Mehdi Hasan — whose departure from MSNBC after his shows were canceled triggered an outpouring of support last fall — is forming his own digital media company.

He’s the latest cable-news defector to strike out on his own with a digital media venture, though most such offerings have come from conservative pundits, such as Megyn Kelly, Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson.

“No one really on the progressive left has been able to pull off anything similar,” Hasan told The Washington Post.

The company will be called Zeteo, after a Greek word that means “to seek,” and will launch in full in April on the Substack platform after a gradual rollout beginning Wednesday.

The company will publish a weekly streaming show (“Mehdi Unfiltered”) hosted by Hasan, a weekly podcast and a regular slate of written pieces by a host of prominent contributors. Full access to the site will eventually cost users $6 per month with an annual subscription.

Hasan said that he raised $4 million to launch the site from friends, family and viewers who were concerned about his departure from MSNBC. The network faced a blizzard of backlash when it announced in late November that both Hasan’s traditional television show and his streaming show would be canceled, without giving a reason for the decision.

“I’m not someone who can just sit back and just not have an outlet where I can say what I need to say,” he said. “I’m restless, always.”

Although he will be the face of the new media company, Hasan said it won’t be all about him. “This is not the ‘Mehdi Hasan Network’ like the Tucker Carlson Network,” he said. “It’s about building something that endures with multiple voices.”

In particular, Hasan said that he will center voices that are not heard on mainstream media outlets, though he cautioned that he’s not trying to replace the legacy media ecosystem.

“I believe there is a craving for media organizations that don’t shy away from saying the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable, even if it bothers people, even if it hinders access, even if it shakes the apple cart,” he said. “From a purely business perspective, there is a gap in the market.”

The British-born Hasan worked for Al Jazeera English and the Intercept before he began hosting his own streaming show for NBC in 2020. His interviews with figures such as John Bolton and Vivek Ramaswamy have frequently gone viral, even as his time slot on MSNBC — on Sunday nights — was not in the sweet spot of cable-news viewership trends. Still, he defended the viewership for his MSNBC show, which often beat CNN among total viewers in the time slot.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole in that I’ve wanted more freedom than some of these places have been able to offer for me,” he said.

He said that his departure from MSNBC was “amicable” and that he’s not aware of any prohibition against him appearing on the network as a guest. “MSNBC wanted me to stay. We had discussions about staying,” he said, but he ultimately decided against appearing as only a paid contributor or fill-in anchor, without a regular program of his own.

“This is one of the biggest news years of our lives, and that’s why I wanted to do something like this,” he said. “I’m not a businessman. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a huge gamble. But if I wasn’t confident, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

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