MILLER: MSNBC banks on Al Sharpton

Cable network gives Obama ally his own show for election year

MSNBC is looking to please its friends at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The No. 3 cable-news network announced Tuesday that it would give rabble-rouser Al Sharpton the 6 p.m. show, “PoliticsNation.”

That time slot opened in July when former host Cenk Uygur stormed out over being told by MSNBC President Phil Griffin that “people in Washington” were concerned with his tone. As Mr. Uygur told CNN’s Howard Kurtz, “They’re concerned that we’re too aggressive against Democrats.”

Mr. Griffin doesn’t have to worry about receiving complaints regarding a known Obama administration ally. Mr. Sharpton has been invited to hang out in the Oval Office and be present for a bill signing. In April, President Obama even flew to New York to speak at a fundraiser for Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Mr. Uygur cited a CBS “60 Minutes” interview in which Mr. Sharpton confirmed that he will never speak ill of the president, even on issues important to blacks. “The guy who was criticizing the president is out - even though he had really good ratings - and the guy who has decided not to criticize the president about anything is in. That’s interesting,” Mr. Uygur said.

This is only the latest example of a Democratic political hack being given the role supposedly reserved for serious journalists.

Eliot Spitzer - a former New York governor and “Client No. 9” of the Emperor’s Club VIP prostitution ring - didn’t even get through a year on his CNN prime-time show before it was yanked because of basement ratings. MSNBC’s 8 p.m. hour is in the hands of Democratic operative Lawrence O’Donnell.

Mr. Sharpton makes no bones about his political agenda spilling onto the TV set. “I clearly understand that in the 21st century of policy America, you’ve got to deal with talk TV and talk radio. The Tea Party didn’t come out of anywhere. If it weren’t for Fox TV and Fox radio, the right wing would not have had traction,” he told TheWrap.com.

He cites his unmemorable 2004 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination as part of his qualification. “I’m the only one on this station that has run for president and knows what it is to go through a primary and presidential debate,” he said. “It’s just like why [Fox News Channel President] Roger Ailes hired [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee.”

Actually, not.

Fox News hired Mr. Huckabee because he’s popular with conservatives around the country and has a pleasant demeanor on TV. MSNBC put Mr. Sharpton on your screens because he’s in the tank for their favorite president, and he’ll toe the liberal line.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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