Accuracy in Media

Al Sharpton, whose Politics Nation show made its official debut this week on MSNBC, apparently forgot to read all the fine print on his contract when it comes to the network’s campaign endorsement policy, which tripped up Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Sharpton on Wednesday and he told the paper that he wasn’t aware of any MSNBC rules that prohibit him from endorsing candidates. “I cannot write checks, but I can make endorsements if I choose,” he explained.

That contrasted with what MSNBC thought he understood the policy to be according to the Journal:

Lauren Skowronski, a network spokeswoman, said, “Rev. Sharpton will be adhering to NBC News policies now that he’s an MSNBC host. NBC News prohibits employees from campaigning for candidates without prior consent from management.”

When told that Mr. Sharpton believed he was free to endorse candidates—and just merely barred from making political donations—Ms. Skowronski replied, “I can let you know that Rev. Sharpton is aware of the policy and has agreed to adhere accordingly.”

Sounds like Ms. Skowronski had a chat with Sharpton after becoming aware of his lack of understanding of the policy.

MSNBC is trying to make sure they don’t have a repeat of last November when in the span of just a few weeks they suspended Keith Olbermann for making campaign donations to three Democratic candidates without prior network approval and Joe Scarborough for two days for making campaign contributions to candidates with whom he was friends, also without network approval.

Given Sharpton’s very partisan nature and his involvement in previous political campaigns it’s easy to see why MSNBC wants to make sure he fully understands the network’s endorsement policy.

This policy might prove to be a little too restrictive for the free-wheeling Sharpton who has already endorsed President Obama for reelection and who told the Journal that he’s not sure how long he will stay at the network.

“Where I go after the presidential race, we’ll see,” he said. “We’ll cross that bridge after we see what happens in November, 2012.”

If he took the job thinking that he would be able to help Obama and the Democrats in the 2012 election, this may be a very short gig indeed.

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