Jesse Ventura: MS-NBC took me off the air for opposing Iraq war

posted at 8:03 pm on November 28, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Er, what? Minnesota’s other embarrassment jumped back into the news today when Jesse Ventura told the LA Times that MS-NBC bought out his contract and kept him off the year for being … too critical of George Bush.  No, I’m not kidding:

This is not your first venture into TV hosting since leaving the governorship. What happened to “Jesse Ventura’s America,” which ran briefly on MSNBC in 2003?

It was awful. I was basically silenced. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. There was a bidding war between CNN, Fox and MSNBC to get my services. MSNBC ultimately won. I was being groomed for a five day-a-week TV show by them. Then, all of a sudden, weird phone calls started happening: “Is it true Jesse doesn’t support the war in Iraq?”

My contract said I couldn’t do any other cable TV or any news shows, and they honored and paid it for the duration of it. So in essence I had my silence purchased. Why do you think you didn’t hear from me for three years? I was under contract. They wouldn’t even use me as a consultant!

When you live in Mexico, your houses all have names. I almost named my house Casa MSNBC because they bought it. I was paid like a professional athlete, and I got very wealthy. For doing nothing.

Mediaite casts a skeptical note in its coverage, pointing out that Jesse didn’t set the world on fire in his brief stint:

Jesse Ventura’s America was on the air for less than four months, from October to December of 2003, and aired only on Saturdays. According to the Star-Tribune (article no longer online; see post #24 on the thread), the show averaged 249,000 viewers — a 39% bump up from the nature documentaries and such previously in the slot, but not exactly a home run. Whether MSNBC dropped Ventura for his political views may ultimately be known only by Ventura and the network, but he hardly had unimpeachable stats.

Still, that “Conspiracy Theory” show looks pretty cool. Maybe there’s a Casa TruTV on the way?

It took MS-NBC the better part of a year to get Ventura’s show on the air.  How do we know that?  As I blogged at Captain’s Quarters in 2003 — actually, in my very first week of blogging — Ventura’s show had a feature called “Dork of the Week” as one of its recurring bits.  And the first “Dork of the Week” was 18 months old:

However, I had the opportunity to listen to the “Dork of the Week” segment of the show on the radio yesterday, and let me tell you, it was excruciating. First of all, “Dork of the Week” is an epithet that you would expect from a middle-school boy, not a grown man, and certainly not a former Governor of Minnesota. Even if you get past that, Jesse can’t speak without sounding … well, like a dumb middle-school jock. The story was about a scientist who thought that by lowering his heartbeat (through yoga), he could swim with sharks and not be detected. He was spectacularly wrong and apparently is lucky to be alive. This story could have had some entertainment value, if you enjoy literally adding insult to injury, if it had been delivered with a wry touch, the sort of thing that Jon Stewart or David Letterman could do without even thinking about it. Instead, Jesse beat it to death in that clod voice of his.

The final straw is that this story is over a year old (April 21, 2002, to be exact)– so how could he be the Dork of the Week? Not coincidentally, MS-NBC has been working with Jesse for over a year to get this TV show in order. That means that Jesse has been practicing the same story for over a year!! Pathetic.

Needless to say, our former governor’s show didn’t last long, and for good reason.  By Christmas Eve of that year, Ventura got permanently shelved:

“I’ve decided to focus the majority of our resources on Monday-Friday primetime in 2004,” the cable news channel’s president, Erik Sorenson. said in a memo to his staff Tuesday night. “Consequently, the holiday hiatus for ‘Jesse Ventura’s America’ will continue indefinitely.” … Sorenson said that Ventura will continue to serve as a political commentator for MSNBC during the 2004 campaign season.

So why didn’t MS-NBC exercise its option to have Ventura as one of its talking heads?  Even MS-NBC wasn’t that desperate.  They hardly needed someone on the air whose idea of wit is “Dork of the Week.”  Even back in 2004, and certainly since then, opposition to the Iraq war or George Bush’s policies weren’t exactly a handicap at the Cable Network Olbermann Tanked.

If Jesse Ventura wants to look around for the reason no one wanted him on the air at MS-NBC, he just needs to look in the mirror.  While he’s doing that, maybe Minnesota voters can look in the mirror, too, and ask what possesses them to elect clowns to high office every ten years.

Update: Noel Sheppard has more on why people should be very, very skeptical of Ventura’s claims.

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And the first “Dork of the Week” was 18 months old:

LOL I read this as the first person Ventura chose as “Dork of the Week” was 18 months old. As in a toddler. ;)

SouthernPatriot on November 28, 2009 at 11:53 PM

That’s what I thought at first too.

forest on November 29, 2009 at 8:36 AM

Jesse looks like he’s a hologram in the screenshot too. Did MSDNC have to beam him in for the show?

forest on November 29, 2009 at 8:43 AM

Yea right Ventura! Of course it wouldnt have anything to do with the fact that you are a fanatical nutroot!
Although you would fit right in with the the other brainwashed morons that pollute that sorry excuse for a news channel! In that light, it surely makes ya wonder!

CDM on November 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM

He doesn’t know squat about imploding a building either. I really question whether he has ever used any charges to blow up and underwater obstacle. There is certainly a huge difference between the two.

Kermit on November 29, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Ventura/Palin in 2012. uhg…sorry no coffee yet… dry heaves.LOL

johnnyU on November 29, 2009 at 9:15 AM

Only fitting that the state with over 10,000 flakes would have voted this dim-bulb in for 4 years.
Can’t even blame ACORN for that one! Don’t Yah Know!

chickasaw42 on November 29, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Perhaps his new show is better suited to him…

Conspiracy Theory on TruTV

Good God

aic4ever on November 29, 2009 at 10:00 AM

rihar on November 28, 2009 at 9:34 PM

You gotta admit, we all loved “HE HATE ME!” ROFL!

ProudPalinFan on November 29, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Bo Bo da clown !

Hummer53 on November 29, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Minnesota — the AA baseball league of national politics. More dorks per capita than even California.

Jaibones on November 29, 2009 at 10:41 AM


What I object to is someone using the whole “You can’t criticize me, I’m a veteran” argument whenever they are being called out on their stupidity.

You want blindly follow this moron? Go ahead.

Machiavelli Hobbes on November 29, 2009 at 11:18 AM


Jesse Ventura knows how to implode a building. I know personally that he set charges on an underwater obstacle. He, I, and about 48 other guys did so in 1970. We would have laughed if he said he was going to be a professional wrestler, let alone a governor. Who knew?

For as long as I’ve known him he’s always enjoyed thinking outside the box and being a bit of an iconoclast. I enjoy watching him, but rarely agree with him. Sometimes disagreement makes for good entertainment.

I can’t imagine MSNBC canning him for being anti-Bush. I can imagine there being a problem with him being anti-Iraq War because I suspect he was supposed to bring in the demographic that supported the war.

Limpet6 on November 29, 2009 at 11:19 AM

was it part of the contract with the actors from Predator that they would all get made Governors of various states in the union?

Jesse Ventura didn’t he used to be a wrestler on TV?

Dr Evil on November 29, 2009 at 11:29 AM


In Naval Special Warfare parlance, serving “in the Teams” means having served in either a SEAL Team or an Underwater Demolition Team. Jim Janos graduated with BUD/S class 58 in 1970.

In 1970, you volunteered to serve “in the Teams.” You did not chose to be a SEAL or a UDT, the choice was made for you. My recollection was Jim went to UDT 11 (not twelve) as was placed in the SDV (swimmer delivery vehicle platoon). Rarely did any enlisted operator (“operator”= BUD/S graduate) work in his rate. His rate was indeed SK or storekeeper. I knew a SEAL operator who was a yeoman (clerk/typist) who wore a Navy Cross and couldn’t type a word until he’d made two deployments to RVN.

In 1983 all Underwater Demolition Teams became SEAL Teams. You must listen very carefully. I’ve been told he says, “I was in what is now called ‘the SEALS'” which is technically — very technically — correct.

Limpet6 on November 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM

You know, it strikes me that a retired pro wrestler who was able to deliver good solid political commentary in that style would be fun to watch.

Rich Fader on November 29, 2009 at 2:45 PM

I have it on good authority that Jesse is actually our very own



OkieDoc on November 29, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Ventura is a FRAUD, we who have ACTUALLY served in Special Operations, whether in Army Special Forces, Navy Seals, Air Force Special Operations, MSOAG, Army Rangers, etc, can’t WAIT to stomp this liars guts out.
Leftists lie, it’s what they do.

nelsonknows on November 29, 2009 at 4:16 PM

In 1983 all Underwater Demolition Teams became SEAL Teams. You must listen very carefully. I’ve been told he says, “I was in what is now called ‘the SEALS’” which is technicallyvery technicallycorrect.
Limpet6 on November 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Limpet6, Apparently you seriously missed the “attention to detail” part or your incredibly gullible.

You might all so try following your own advice.

I’m also excited–you know, a lot of my old Navy SEAL buddies are here to see me get sworn in today.
CBS This Morning, January 4, 1999

I’m the top law enforcement officer in the state of Minnesota. I’m also the commander-in-chief of the National Guard. I’m an ex-Navy SEAL team member.
Meet The Press, February 21, 1999

Now as a Navy SEAL, I thought “How did they know that about me — how dangerous we truly can be?” We have a saying in the SEALs: we don’t get mad, we get even.
National Press Club Speech, February 22, 1999

I’m the head of the state troopers, and the commander-in-chief of the National Guard. I’m also a former Navy SEAL.
CNN Late Edition, February 23, 1999

Tim Russert: Both your brother–your older brother and yourself, [were] Navy SEALs?
Ventura: Mm-hmm, yeah.

BTW Limp, sure your not confusing Jesse the liar with his brother Jan Janos UDT11?
Limp, that’s a hint.

Tim Russert: You almost died twice, once as a Navy SEAL and once as a wrestler, with blood clots in your lungs.

Ventura: Well, I almost died more than that a couple times as a SEAL. That’s only what I told about in the book.
Tim Russert Show, May 22, 1999

Last spring I rappelled down from the top of the Target Center before a Timberwolves game. But, you know, I am an ex-Navy SEAL and I was trained for you know, a full year and was very comfortable in that type of rappelling-type thing.
Larry King Live, May 24, 1999

I couldn’t care less what a person’s sexual orientation is, and I’m an ex-Navy SEAL.
The Advocate, May 1999

First of all, they should understand why a Navy SEAL doesn’t wear underwear.
CBS This Morning , June 3, 1999

Larry King: You were a Navy SEAL?
Ventura: Yes.

Larry King: What was that like?

Ventura: Exciting. I did it at 18 years old to 22, 22-1/2. It was challenging. I would belong to no other unit The camaraderie is unbelievable.
Larry King Live, June 3, 1999

When I was a wrestler, I could pick up buildings. When I was a SEAL, I could scale them.
NPR’s Fresh Air, June 3, 1999

Chris Matthews: When you were a–you were a SEAL, you must have been through amazingly scary moments with life and death.

Ventura: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Hardball with Chris Matthews at Harvard University, October 6, 1999

You’re talking to an ex-Navy Seal here.
Playboy, November, 1999.

I was in the SEALs during the Vietnam War, so I experienced firsthand how we, as Americans, were affected by that conflict.
Rolling Stone, December 30, 1999

We’re a proud organization. If anyone tries to pretend they’re a SEAL, God help them.
Jesse Ventura Autobiography: I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed

Jesse Ventura: Sarah Palin would never make it as a Navy SEAL
By admin on July 17, 2009

And Jesse the fraud, Jesse the liar, Jesse the quiter, Ventura was NEVER a Navy SEAL.

I’ll go out on a limb here limp and say Jesse the fraud is claiming to have been a NAVY SEAL!

DSchoen on November 29, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Er, you don’t think he has any SEAL buddies? That referring to his SEAL buddies is a lie?

Sounds like he pushed the envelope at times, but wasn’t that always the pro-wrestler style to be larger than life? Perhaps a bad habit, but nowhere near, for instance, Kerry’s level of deceit.

Jim Janos volunteered for Naval Special Warfare in wartime. To what unit he was assigned and where he went was totally out of his control at the E-4 level. He volunteered, he did not dodge the draft like Bill Clinton. He volunteered, he did throw away his medals at a demonstration and then badmouth all Vietvets like John Kerry.

Whatever his faults he volunteered, was accepted, and served.

He completed BUD/S, went to jump school, and served in Westpac with UDT-11.

Limpet6 on November 29, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Whoops, he did NOT throw away his medals.

Limpet6 on November 29, 2009 at 6:10 PM

I didn’t throw mine away either.

old trooper2 on November 29, 2009 at 8:29 PM

That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

Yeah, Jesse, their whole damn news department’s against the war but they only fired YOU for it.

Here’s a clue, JACK, they fired you because you’re a sideshow freak turned Troofer!

This is what too many chair shots to the head does to ya, folks.

SuperCool on November 30, 2009 at 6:00 AM

249,000 viewers

Chris Mathews presently enjoys 500,000. I’m surprised he’s on the air. His Bozo leg humping is embarrassing.

Ed, why do we care about Mr. Ventura, except as an illustration that we need intelligence and civics tests for voters?

dogsoldier on November 30, 2009 at 7:05 AM

In the commercials for his latest show, Ventura makes the claims that as gov of Minnesotta, he had access to information at the highest levels.

Color me skeptical, but on what grounds would the gov of MN be given access to any govt information that didn’t directly involve the state of MN?

Beyond that, just how much information regarding the security of MN would the federal govt have in the first place?

MarkTheGreat on November 30, 2009 at 9:45 AM

Ventura learned that the neoconservatives control more than just FOX.

popularpeoplesfront on November 30, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Ventura may have been a Navy SEAL and thats great! But he turned into a weasel!

MCGIRV on November 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM