MSNBC Hires Al Sharpton, As “Network” Becomes Reality

Satire no more.

Noting that MSNBC has given Rev. Al Sharpton his own show, I am compelled to ask: What is broadcast journalism’s accepted criteria now that justifies an individual’s enshrinement as a cable news commentator?

Is it name recognition? The “right” political orientation, in this case, knee-jerk liberal? A ready-made fan base?  Theatrical presence? If these are the criteria, by all means, hire Al Sharpton. Hire Alec Baldwin, Donald Trump, Rod Blagojevich and Jane Fonda, too. Gary Busey. Manny Ramirez. Hulk Hogan. Bozo the Clown.

Or is the proper and responsible criteria credibility, integrity, honesty, fairness, and journalistic credentials? If those archaic standards are still in place, or if MSNBC wants to pretend that they are, then the hiring of Sharpton marks a new low in broadcast news coverage cynicism and recklessness.

Most MSNBC viewers probably know nothing of Al Sharpton’s history and background, or how he came to be famous enough to attract the attention and patronage of the progressive alternative to Fox News. Should it matter that Sharpton’s original claim to national fame was using a false rape and abuse charge by Tawana Brawley, a black teenager, to stir up a massive protest, exacerbate local racial tensions and slander local police and prosecutors? Is it significant that Sharpton never apologized for his completely unsubstantiated accusations, and continued to defend his position even after the teen’s story was revealed as a fraud?
Sharpton is a professional race-baiter, even before the Brawley incident began specializing in metaphorically throwing gasoline on smoldering racial controversies. He is willing to shade, manipulate or ignore facts to achieve his objectives, which so thoroughly combine the political, the ideological and his own personal enrichment that it is impossible to determine where one starts and the others begin.

MSNBC’s hiring of Al Sharpton completes the transformation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 screenplay for “Network” from satire to prophesy. The award-winning film portrayed an unscrupulous TV network’s news division employing carnival acts, madmen and buffoons to raise ratings, and being successful at it, as long as success was measured in dollars. Credibility, integrity, honesty, fairness, journalistic credentials? All irrelevant to the fictional, venal and principle-free executives in the film, and obviously irrelevant to MSNBC, too. You don’t care about truth and integrity, or journalistic standards, if you give a cable podium to Al Sharpton.

And imagine: Eliot Spitzer was available!

12 thoughts on “MSNBC Hires Al Sharpton, As “Network” Becomes Reality

  1. You know – I almost agree with 80% of what you say… but this isn’t the failing of MSNBC – this is the failing of the Media itself. I bet they looked at Sharpton’s ratings, scratch their knoggins and say, “You’re hired..!” Nobody knew who Cenk Uygar was ( I thought he was more than adequate and did a pretty good job, and had a brain in his head ) so his ratings I guess weren’t marketable to “Citizens for Natural Gas” or “People who Care about Keeping Fracking Legal” or whatever – all these “people groups” designed to look like grass roots who buy millions of dollars worth of advertising – that is who these programmers have to cow-tow to.

    I give Cenk credit for telling MSNBC to shove it up their tookas.

    And the other networks are following suit – ratings vs. content – and I’d have to say that NBC products are the most guilty, but the other “networks” aren’t far behind.

    Al Sharpton’s world view has evolved into a pretty likable guy, and I am sure he has his selling points. But his past is as Checkered as they come. But our “Modern” society rewards hideous behavior, and nice, talented guys finish last… This Cultural Darwinism is a reflection of what is happening at MSNBC right now. But for Sharpton hosting his own show, he is very hard to watch. I am loud, he is LOUDER. And not a good interviewer. But I am sure he pulls in the numbers. They’ll sell more advertising. There you have it.

    • There I do. It’s too easy for the anchor on the ship to blame the ship—a member of the media can either work to elevate standards or work to lower them. Al is likable, all right…most demagogues have charisma and most sociopaths are charming—that was one reason that the show biz end of media and the news end was supposed to have a different composition. My guess is that Al will fare even worse than Jesse did as a talk show host, and MSNBC will not even profit from lowering the bar below sea level.

  2. Just to watch the irascible Al Sharpton mau mau the right every day must give Paddy Chayefsky a bit of a smirk. Rotweilers are rare in journalism today.

    • Odd last sentence—is Al now in journalism? Whatever he’s in now, that’s not it.

      Somehow, I think Paddy would be able to resist Al’s charms, don’t you? But he might write a play about him.

  3. My friend famously called Al Sharpton a “dirtbag.” Now every time I think about him, that’s the word that comes to mind.

  4. It seems to me that a good interviewer would keep the discussion going and make the viewer question if he was ever really there. The focus should be on the guests. I don’t see how Sharpton will be anything unlike O’Reilly. Bring people on stage to badger them about what you think.

    If he is successful at avoiding that style, I will be duly impressed. John Stewart has actually been impressing me lately for some reason. He asks simple questions and gets out of the way. If something leaves the audience scratching their heads, he clarifies the question and let’s the guest speak to the point.

    Who is the best interviewer in the business now? Perhaps we don’t praise good talent enough. Thoughts?

    • Well, O’Reilly is a pompous ass and not as bright as he thinks he is, but he’s not a liar….at least, no where on the scale of Sharpton.I think proven liars shouldn’t be trusted to convey information to the public.

      Good interviewers? Christiane, though I hate to say it, is damn good. So is Jake Tapper, when they give him a chance. Chris Wallace is excellent. Candy Crowley is superb. Diane Sawyer. George S. (I can’t stand spelling Greek names, and all my relatives have them) is getting to the point where I would say that he’s better than average. Scott Pelley wears his politics a little too visably, but he’s a good interviewer. Charlie Rose remains very good at what he does.

      You know who is surprisingly good? William Shatner, on his interview show.

  5. Mr Sharpton past is filled with altruistic endeavors,marchingand speaking, for underclass,speaking out for injustice. This man has been a beacon for the poor voiceless American’s. His show will give American’s another view point not heard from on American television, a strong AA and male perspective . This man is the most caring and real person on television.He talks the talk and walk’s the walk.

    • Many liars and frauds and charlatans and demagogues do some good things too. They just don’t belong in journalism. Having an agenda in journalism is called “a conflict of interest.”

    • *facepalm* By the loving name of Christ, there are more than enough intelligent and decent liberals walking around that the Left shouldn’t have to rely on a doofy demagogue like Al Sharpton to advance their cause.

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