While you may not agree with all of Al Sharpton’s political views, you have to admit, the man has a point.
In an interview with TheLoop21.com on why he cancelled his scheduled appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in Philadelphia, Sharpton addressed the uproar over the chatter that MSNBC was considering giving him his own show. When the word began to leak, many (including the host whose slot Sharpton would have been given) said that his background as an activist and public support for President Obama would bias his news coverage. And while Sharpton has not backpedaled on his past experience and current support of the President, he is posing a very important question to black journalists and to political journalism in general: “What is the standard?”
Pointing out several right wing commentators, pundits and former politicians who now anchor their own shows, Sharpton argued that the backlash to his potential placement at MSNBC was not in keeping with the landscape.
I would have to say that you are telling your activists and advocates that you are limiting their ability to do what activists and advocates on the right wing are able to do on television. People like Mike Huckabee have a show on FOX. Alan Keyes had a show. These are not journalists, but you do not see limitations put in place by the right wing, but you are doing so for the left. Also, I’d have to ask, ‘Is this only applied to hosting shows for white institutions?’ Because if that was the standard then I’d have to quit my show on Radio One. And if that’s the standard, how come there is no criticism about me having a show there.
From there Sharpton went on to point out several black media figures who were in the spotlight but not trained jounalists.
Last week, when Melissa Harris Perry guest-hosted for Rachel Maddow, she did an excellent job. But she is not a journalist. Should we condemn her? Michael Eric Dyson guest-hosted on MSNBC, should we criticize him? So if some journalists are taking the position that anyone who is not one of them should not host a talk show, they will put themselves at war with the community.”
Though Sharpton is reacting to a personal point, he raises a broader question: should anchor positions on television networks be limited to trained journalists?
What do you think Clutchettes and gents- weigh in here!