Exclusive: Why Sharpton Cancelled NABJ Appearance
1 year ago
"I didn't want to be a distraction"
Last week, Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to speak on a panel at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention in Philadelphia. At the last minute, though, he pulled out. This morning, Sharpton called Loop 21 to explain what happened:
Loop 21: Did you cancel your NABJ appearance because you were upset about the MSNBC show controversy?
Rev. Al Sharpton: Absolutely not. The NABJ members have the right to criticize and do whatever they want to do. However, [the MSNBC controversy] would have been a distraction for what I was invited to come speak about. I was invited to come speak about politics and the upcoming presidential election. If they had invited me to talk about whether advocates and activist organizations should host talk shows, I would have considered coming to discuss those kinds of things. But to put me on a political panel and then for it to go into something else about MSNBC, that wouldn’t have been good.
Can you understand the criticism that more black journalists are needed to host cable TV news shows?
I think that criticism is right but that is not what is being discussed right now. What is being discussed is that I’ve been asked to anchor a news show, which is wrong because I’ve not been asked by MSNBC about anchoring a news show. I’m being considered for anchoring a show that is designed around talking with people who have a particular point of view on various issues of the day.
If people would look, they'd know that there are no journalists on MSNBC past 5 p.m. on any given day. What is a little humorous to me is that journalists don’t understand what the format is for what it is they are talking about. Look at the MSNBC evening lineup -- if I took a hosting job, I would be replacing a guy from YouTube. The “Young Turks” are not journalists. Rachel Maddow was a radio talk show host before she got her MSNBC show. So it’s laughable because the format they are talking about is not a news format. We had other activists host shows before, like Jesse Jackson.
Some argue that you're being considered because you gave MSNBC's president Phil Griffin an award at the National Action Network national convention. How do you respond?