MSNBC’s Potential Al Sharpton Hiring Draws Criticism From African American Journalists

By Alex Weprin 

The Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince takes a critical look at MSNBC’s apparently imminent hiring of Al Sharpton to host the 6 PM hour.

Prince notes that the move could be seen as a way to feature an African American in prominent hour on cable news. The move does have critics, especially among the ranks of African American journalists:

When rumors surfaced this week that Sharpton was under consideration for the MSNBC job, one NABJ member told colleagues without challenge, “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”

Another listed five African Americans who have had their own cable news shows, and noted that all but one have been nonjournalists: Alan Keyes, prime time, MSNBC; Carlos Watson, weekend, MSNBC; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, weekend, CNN; Arthel Neville, Talkback Live/daytime, CNN; D.L. Hughley, weekend, CNN. Only Neville has a journalism background.

In other words, Sharpton’s hiring may increase the diversity ranks at MSNBC, but not the ranks of diverse journalists.