Jul 28, 2011

I don't know if this is a case of 'hateration' or rather plain ol' bewilderment, but the appearance of Al Sharpton as an anchor on MSNBC has been really curious to me. There are plenty of seasoned black journalists who deserved that spot over Al, but yet it was he who got the call. I don't knock the man for his 'hustle' (and when I say hustle, that's exactly what I mean), but something in the milk ain't right and obviously the people over at the Daily Beast agree. They did an entire expose as to how Sharpton's endorsement of the controversial NBC/Comcast merger may have led to him becoming the 6PM anchor on MSNBC.

Here is what they wrote:

Sharpton has a long and well-documented history of leveraging his civil-rights profile for his own benefit. Grabbing a prime-time anchor spot in exchange for cheerleading for a controversial merger would be the capper on that career. It’s gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance. Michael Copps, a Democrat who’d served on the FCC since 2001, declared, when he ultimately voted against it, that the merger “erodes diversity, localism and competition” and was “a huge boost for media industry (and digital industry) consolidation” as well as “a stake in the heart of independent content production,” charges that were echoed in a New York Times editorial. But Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn and the only minority member on the FCC, threw her decisive support behind the deal, citing a comprehensive diversity memorandum of agreement (MOU) signed by Sharpton as a mechanism that “will serve to keep the new entity honest in promoting diversity.”

Without Clyburn, FCC chair Julius Genachowski, the third Democrat on the commission, seems unlikely to have backed the deal, which he did a week after the MOU was sent to the FCC. The MOU was significant because it countered opposition from Jesse Jackson, a variety of black organizations, and some black House Democrats. The then House Judiciary chair, John Conyers, convened combustible hearings last summer in Chicago and Los Angeles, and California Rep. Maxine Waters declared at one that she wasn’t interested in hearing how much Comcast had given to "the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and the Urban League,” the three entities that eventually signed the MOU. (Just a couple of weeks before the MOU was sent to the FCC, Sharpton aggressively championed James Clyburn in his post-election fight to retain his leadership position in the House, while Comcast contributed $10,500 to Clyburn’s political committees. Mignon Clyburn, who is reported to have met with Sharpton, declined to respond to Beast questions.)

A Comcast spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Comcast has given $140,000 to Sharpton’s National Action Network since 2009—the same year the merger was first proposed. Though MSNBC president Phil Griffin was honored with a top prize at the April 2011 annual conference of NAN—and he, Chris Mathews, and other NBC notables had a table at NAN’s dinner—NBC would not answer questions about how much it's given Sharpton. Comcast also insisted in an email to The Daily Beast that the company “pledged we would not interfere” with NBC news operations, and “we have not and we will not,” a response similar to the only answer we got from NBC. Neither, however, directly answered the question of whether there was any connection between Sharpton’s merger role and his anticipated selection for the show.

Now isn't that interesting. People threw salt and shade at Tavis Smiley for pretty much doing the exact same thing when it came to how he leverage the State of the Black Union for his own personal interests. I wonder how these same people feel about brother Al. Will he receive the same criticisms that Tavis received or is this just something that we've come to expect from brother Sharpton?


Post a Comment