Rep. Steve Israel (D – New York) thought he was going to get the chance to discuss Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Barack Obama on MSNBC Friday. However, while Israel was speaking about the suit, host Luke Russert cut him off to discuss the breaking news about basketball star LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat. Israel shared his thoughts about being bumped for basketball in a phone call with Business Insider.
“I thought they were about to cut in and announce a ceasefire in Gaza and then I found out that they’re announcing that LeBron is going to Cleveland,” Israel said.
Israel said this wasn’t his first experience being bumped from a cable news appearance.
“Early on in the war in Iraq I was about to do a segment on Fox News and the producer gave me the thirty second warning,” recounted Israel. “I was looking at the monitor watching Iraqis tie a rope around a statue of Saddam Hussein and pull it down and I said to the producer, ‘I’m not going on am I?’ And he said, ‘No, you’re not.”
Israel said the Saddam story was “a little more newsworthy” than James’ move, but he noticed a similarity between his two experiences getting kicked off the air.
“One was a tyrant, Saddam Hussein, the other was King James. I don’t know what it is about royalty,” said the congressman.
After being bumped by James, Israel said he wants to challenge the NBA star to a one-on-one game of hoops.
“If he can challenge me on my turf, television, then I want to challenge him on his the basketball court,” Israel said. “I think I’ll be humiliated though.”
Business Insider reached out to Russert to ask about the decision to end Israel’s interview early. Russert referred us to a spokeswoman for the network who did not respond. For his part, Israel said he’s not holding a grudge against the channel.
“No hard feelings at all,” said Israel. “I will remind them, however, that in this interview, you actually let me finish my sentence.”
Watch Israel’s aborted MSNBC appearance below.
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