MSNBC president Phil Griffin has finally decided what to do with Al Sharpton’s low-rated Politics Nation show, announcing in a staff memo that the controversial host will move to Sunday mornings. Sharpton’s last weekday show will air on September 4, and he will start in his new 8 a.m. Sunday slot on October 4, according to Politico:
I want to congratulate Al and his team. For four years they have done a terrific job bringing his voice and a big spotlight to issues of justice, civil rights and equality. And as many of you know, The Rev never missed a show,” Griffin wrote in the email. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a Sunday morning newsmaker program.
In order to make room for Sharpton, Up with Steve Kornacki will be cut back from two hours to one, and Sharpton’s slot will be filled by MSNBC Live until a permanent host is named.
The move marks the latest in what has been a slow shakeup of the network’s lineup. Last month, MSNBC axed three shows—The Cycle, Now with Alex Wagner and The Ed Show—in an effort to move away from opinion journalism toward more straight-news reporting, to attempt to boost the network’s sagging ratings.
Sharpton took the demotion in stride, telling the New York Daily News that he was “very happy” with the move and that he will now be able to “get A-list guests and newsmakers I want,” and that he always wanted to be a Sunday morning host. He added that he wanted to be “Dr. Martin Luther King, not Larry King.”
In reality, though, the move is the equivalent of being banished to cable news Siberia as MSNBC consistently finishes a distant third in the ratings on Sunday. But this allows Griffin to avoid—at least for now—the unpleasantness that was certain to occur had he fired the controversial Sharpton, as he should have.