by Yvette Carnell
The man who used his daily MSNBC show as an arm of the White House communications department is going from five days a week to one day on the weekend. Headlines in mainstream media are using terms like “bumped” and “moved” to describe the end of Sharpton’s daily show in favor of a Sunday time slot. The truth, however, is that as the Obama clock winds down and whites tire of race talk, Sharpton’s being relegated to the margins. As I’ve predicted, he’s not the first and probably won’t be the last.
When asked in February of this year whether he was being let go by MSNBC amid the ratings shakeup, Sharpton told The Daily Beast, “I am pretty certain that I am solid at the time period that I’m at for the next foreseeable future. And any rumors to the contrary are totally unfounded.”
That “solid” ground Rev. Al described now looks more like quicksand.
“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,” network president Phil Griffin said in a memo. “And as many of you know, The Rev never missed a show. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a Sunday morning newsmaker program.”
Here we find Rev. Al being told that taking a spot from the more liberal Cenk Uygur, while simultaneously being a marble-mouthed parrot for Obama, and shielding Comcast from racial criticism, was a job well done. MSNBC’s parting gift to the good Rev. is that he’ll be allowed to retain a spot at the network and a paycheck, maybe until he retires.
Last year MSNBC decided against renewing Goldie Taylor’s contract as well, then sent Joy Reid on her way.
While it is true that MSNBC is in a ratings funk, it is just as true that the network has been lagging for awhile, and up until now, allowed Sharpton to retain his prime time spot in the line-up.
In May, Mediaite reported that Sharpton was last in the 6pm demo. And he wasn’t just last, he stunk up the place. I mean, he wasn’t even close: “With just 49K viewers in the 25-54 demo, MSNBC’s PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton came in third place at 6 p.m. ET behind Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier (296K) and CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (80K).”
He wasn’t let go back then because he hadn’t outworn the welcome of his benefactors (and demoting and firing too many black people at one time just isn’t good for business). As we approach the post-Obama age, however, black pundits, who are largely employed by networks mostly as race explainers and Obama functionaries, will be of little use. This is part of the explanation why they are being purged.
Does anyone want to hear Sharpton talk about Jeb Bush’s Russia policy? Or Hillary Clinton’s health care plan? No. Of course not. He’s the Negro Whisperer. And he, and those like him, who pretend to know what all black people are thinking or feeling at any given time, are hired hands. And they come cheap since most black pundits are made to rely solely on mainstream media for income.
Sharpton was at MSNBC for four years. He did a fine job of leveraging the Obama administration’s second term for his own personal and financial gain. And the Obama administration cleverly used the street preacher without a church to convince a cadre of black voters that change was gonna come… eventually. Now “eventually” is here, Al is out, and black people are worse off than they were when Obama took office. There is no clearer sign that black politics is at its lowest point since the Civil Rights movement. This is rock bottom. And at least some of the blame for this goes to the black chattering class, who never saw a black symbolic victory that they didn’t want to celebrate and interpret for white people.