How Political Activism and Cable Show Hosting Co-Exist at MSNBC

By Chris Ariens Comment

The New York Times takes on the issues of Al Sharpton: eternal activist / cable news host, and how the two co-exist.

Many polarizing former office holders — Sarah Palin, Eliot L. Spitzer — have been given TV platforms, but Mr. Sharpton is not a former anything. He remains an activist: he is planning to march on Washington next month to call for jobs (an event he expects to cover on his show) and has already done segments on another project, winning the release from death row of a Georgia laborer, Troy Davis, convicted — wrongfully, Mr. Sharpton says — of killing a policeman.

As construed by MSNBC, Mr. Sharpton will be a hybrid TV personality, a journalist-participant of sorts, both a maker and a deliverer of the news. “We are breaking the


mold,” said Phil Griffin, the network’s president. “Anything he does on the streets, he can talk about on air — we won’t hide anything.”

Though this arrangement may be journalistic, said Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of media at Northeastern University, it is probably not journalism. Its proper name, Professor Kennedy said, is talk-show hosting.

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