Al Sharpton's newest role - full-time anchorman - is now a reality. The New York City-based black activist, preacher and former presidential candidate launched his MSNBC-TV talk show, "PoliticsNation," on Monday, August 29, six days after the network tapped him for the 6-7 P.M. (EST) weeknight slot vacated in July by Cenk Uygur. The announcement wasn't unexpected. Sharpton frequently had substituted for Uygur. And MSNBC's parent company, Comcast Corp., for years has been a generous donor to Sharpton's nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN). The elevation of Sharpton, with a long history of demagoguery and financial chicanery, to top-tier media player, for now, is complete. The question is whether "the Rev" is more than a novelty - and whether his hiring represents another case of corporate surrender to a larger political culture.
"Al Sharpton, anchorman" - the phrase has an undeniably odd ring. Yet on MSNBC it's already a part-time reality. And his close relationship to MSNBC's parent, Comcast Corp., may enable him to become full-time permanent host of the cable network's 6 P.M. news slot. If Sharpton gets promoted - the announcement could come any day - it would be the ultimate coup in his ongoing campaign to obtain respectability to cover a long history of racial incitement.
After being charged with violations of House Rules by the House Ethics Committee today, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) got downright testy with MSNBC reporter Luke Russert when asked if he was going to keep his job. Rangel asked him who he was with and then disparaged the network by saying "it just shows what happened to a channel that did have some respect."