Keith Olbermann, who is still smarting from his departure at MSNBC, used his interview with Cenk Uygur, whom Sharpton is expected to permanently replace, to criticize the network for the move.
Olbermann suggested that hiring Sharpton was part of a quid pro quo between the network and Sharpton’s National Action Network, which gave MSNBC president Phil Griffin its “Keepers of the Dream” award three months ago.
For Olbermann, however, who has an uncanny knack for avoiding the facts, it was just another opportunity to take a potshot at his former employer for in essence relegating him to cable television’s no man’s land.
But Olbermann wasn’t the only one unhappy with the possibility of Sharpton anchoring his own show in prime time on MSNBC.
Richard Prince of The Maynard Institute, which promotes diversity in the media, wrote on his blog that one member of the National Association of Black Journalists told colleagues that “This would still be just another non-journalist media ‘celebrity’ receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.”
Olbermann used that quote on his show and sent it rocketing throughout the Internet.
The NABJ member behind that quote was Jeff Winbush, a blogger and former editor of the Columbus Post, a black newspaper, who told Prince in an email that he wasn’t attacking Sharpton personally but that he simply wanted to see “Black journalists get a fair shot as well.”
That comment was directed at the fact that very few blacks who have their own cable news shows have a journalism background though the same can be said for some white hosts on cable news as well.
Just two weeks ago The NABJ and NAACP blasted CNN for its lineup of all-white anchors after they fired Eliot Spitzer and rearranged their prime time programming without adding a black host.
No doubt that MSNBC heard that criticism loud and clear and decided that they didn’t want to be next on the NABJ’s or NAACP’s hit list. After all, as the most liberal cable news network, you would expect MSNBC to have several black hosts on board, and Uygur’s poor ratings as well as his attitude gave them the opening they were seeking.
So once again Olbermann has taken aim and missed his target by a wide margin, all in the name of holding a grudge. Or maybe he knows more than the others about what really led to Sharpton’s rise at MSNBC. If so, he should share that with his audience.