MSNBC’s O’Donnell Walks Back Questions About Trump Salary

MSNBC’s “The Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell walked back his questioning of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” salary on Thursday.

O’Donnell began by stating that he likes Trump, and talked about meeting him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. O’Donnell said Trump went over shook hands with him, even though he had “savaged” Trump back in 2011. O’Donnell added that when he returned to his show after being in the hospital following a car accident, the first email he read the next day was from Trump, something that he was “touched” by.

O’Donnell then said, “when Donald Trump announced his candidacy, I welcomed it in the same spirit as Jon Stewart. This is going to be fun to cover. That’s what I set out to do. That’s the way I wanted to cover Donald this time. But I’ve gotten myself hung up on the least important thing about Donald Trump, the future president, how much money he has earned in TV. Donald is now bothered by my disbelief they I’ve expressed about how much money NBC paid him as the star of ‘The Apprentice’ series, and today, Donald came up with a better idea than threatening to sue me. This time, he challenged me to bet 100% of my salary that I am wrong about his NBC income.”

O’Donnell explained that he doesn’t bet about anything and he wants to cover the campaign, not be part of the story. He continued, “I might be wrong. I have never said I know exactly how much Donald Trump made for the entire series. I don’t know. I’ve made semi-educated guesses about it, and I don’t really care very much about it. I don’t really care. And so, after I offered my guesses about it last night on this program, and tried to have some fun with it, James Fallows wisely tweeted that Donald’s — TV income doesn’t matter, and I immediately agreed with him on Twitter. Then I stupidly jumped in to talking about it again on ‘Morning Joe’ today, where I, in effect, hijacked a few minutes of the to talk about this thing that I know doesn’t matte, that I’ve already said publicly doesn’t matter.” O’Donnell admitted that he has used the harshest language about Trump’s income and that he’s not proud of this, and doesn’t want “the prize for the guy that wants the meanest words in the debate. I don’t want to be the angry guy about Donald Trump, because I’m not. So, as I said, I do not want to be in stories about Donald Trump. I just want to sit here and cover the Donald Trump campaign. I was trying to have fun, talking about Donald’s money this morning, but when I watched the video of that thing this afternoon, it didn’t look like fun.”

O’Donnell also said he ate up time from time “Morning Joe” interview April Ryan, who had asked the president about Bill Cosby, which he apologized for. He then, to give Ryan more time, played a clip of Ryan’s interview on “Morning Joe.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett