Topic: Media Research Center
Brent Bozell complains in his Aug. 27 column:
MSNBC obliterated the notion of separating cable-news hosts and their political activism when the network brass gave Rev. Al Sharpton a nightly show two years ago. It was just another day at the office when Sharpton held a rabble-rousing rally for Trayvon Martin in the afternoon, and then covered it on his show hours later.
But Saturday's rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington was the most dramatic conflict of interest yet. Sharpton organized the rally (with Martin Luther King III) and MSNBC aired huge chunks of it live, including all 20 minutes of Sharpton's screaming keynote speech. An MSNBC press release said they'd be promoting the rally from 11 am to 9 pm.
On Friday night, MSNBC gave Sharpton two hours of "pre-game" to promote the rally. On Sunday morning, he appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" to pose as Reverend King. On September 6, MSNBC will give Sharpton yet another two hours in prime time for an "Advancing the Dream" special.
This comparison is unfair to Rick Santorum, but imagine if Fox News gave Santorum a nightly show and then Santorum gave the keynote speech at the March for Life, and Fox aired large chunks of the March for Life live, and then afterwards, the Fox News hosts competed to see who could praise Santorum the most as the peerless leader of the century. Every liberal who's ever claimed Fox is a propaganda channel and not a news network should shut up and sit down after this Sharpton spectacle on MSNBC.
Bozell won't tell you that MSNBC is arguably following in the footsteps of Fox News, specifically its heavy promotion of the tea party in the early years of the Obama administration, in which Fox far surpassed anything MSNBC and Sharpton have done.
In August 2009, for example, Fox News repeatedly promoted a cross-country bus tour by one tea party group, with one Fox anchor even saying that "we want to let folks know" the Tea Party schedule so "they can be a part" of the events. One Fox "reporter" even embedded with the bus tour and filed biased, fawning reports promoting the tea party effort. And in April 2009, Fox News actually claimed sponsorship of tea party rallies.
Funny, we don't recall Bozell being critical of that, let alone lament any blurred lines between news and advocacy on TV.