MSNBC knew hiring Al Sharpton three years ago would raise questions about where the line between news commentary and subjective advocacy lies for the network. Sharpton has been front and center of two recent cases involving the deaths of black men at the hands of police. First, 43-year-old Eric Garner who was put in a chokehold by NYPD officers last month, and later died, and Saturday’s death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, shot by police in Ferguson, MO.
Over the weekend, even before Brown’s death, Sharpton was all over New York media calling for a march against aggressive police tactics. Since the Ferguson shooting and resulting riots, Sharpton has dedicated three-quarters of his “PoliticsNation” airtime to the story, and is devoting at least half to tonight’s show to the topic. “The Ed Show,” “All In” and “The Last Word” also plan on leading with the Brown story today.
Sharpton hosted his program from St. Louis Tuesday. Earlier in the day, he stood beside Brown’s parents at a press conference, urging the federal government to get involved in the case and cautioning citizens against reactionary violence. He also announced his National Action Network will pay for Brown’s funeral.
“We didn’t hire Al to become a neutered kind of news presenter,” MSNBC Phil Griffin told the Associated Press in March, 2012, during the Trayvon Martin case. “That’s not what we do.”
We reached out to MSNBC for this story, but did not receive a response.
>>Update: MSNBC President Phil Griffin tells TVNewser: “Rev. Al Sharpton is both President of the National Action Network and host on MSNBC. We’ve always been transparent about the dual roles and his work outside of MSNBC.”