The MediaBuzz show threw race-baiting stones at Al Sharpton from its Fox News glass house over the weekend. I’ve come to expect the Sharpton-as-race-hustler characterization from Fox and the rehashing of all his previous misdeeds (while whitewashing those of Dick Cheney, Oliver North, Mark Fuhrman, and Donald Rumsfeld, e.g.). But Fox pundit Jim Pinkerton took the whole thing a big step further when he came up with a conspiracy theory about Sharpton’s supposed influence over MSNBC. And nobody challenged it.
Host Howard Kurtz began the discussion by asking why MSNBC is “so impervious” to criticisms that “Sharpton is flouting the most basic rules of journalism” by making himself part of the Ferguson, Missouri story he also covered.
Of course, Fox has flouted “the most basic rules of journalism” numerous times. Anyone else remember Sean Hannity coaching Terri Schiavo's nurses for their appearance on Hannity & Colmes? A Fox News producer coaching the crowd at Glenn Beck's 9/12 protest? Fox's promotion of Donald Trump’s bogus birtherism? How about its dangerously inflammatory coverage of Cliven Bundy. Kurtz did blast Fox for its Bundy coverage. But Bundy was hardly a flouting one off.
But putting that aside, if Kurtz really wanted to know about MSNBC’s thought-process, he’d have asked someone in a position to know: a media reporter, maybe, or former MSNBC staffer. Instead, Kurtz asked guest Jim Pinkerton, a Republican operative. The booking seemed designed to make sure Sharpton got smeared.
Sure enough, Pinkterton answered, “MSNBC and NBC and Comcast owe him big time because he (Sharpton) supported the merger.”
“So this is a payoff?” Kurtz asked, sounding rather surprised and dubious.
“I do, I do. I think it’s a connection,” Pinkerton replied. “Thinking” there’s a connection is a far cry from having any grounds for such a belief. Nevertheless, Pinkerton announced that Sharpton could have caused a fuss with the FCC over the merger but didn’t. “Next thing you know, he’s got a TV show,” Pinkerton said.
Yet Kurtz accepted Pinkerton’s conspiracy theory as some kind of valid analysis, never challenged him and never asked for any kind of evidence to support it nor highlighted the lack thereof.
The next thing I knew, MediaBuzz regular Lauren Ashburn complained about a fawning piece about Sharpton in the New York Times. The Times ignored “the racially charged way that he has gone about his life. It was almost as if this was a new person and he wasn’t this track suit, medallion-wearing big guy who was throwing his weight around. This was a problem.”
Now I don’t watch all of MediaBuzz regularly so I cant swear they didn’t criticize Fox for repeatedly presenting Mark Fuhrman as a neutral Ferguson analyst, while ignoring his racist history, but I’m willing to bet it didn't happen.
Meanwhile, Pinkerton got another turn at the conspiracy-mongering trough. This time, he suggested that Sharpton is somehow blackmailing MSNBC into doing his bidding:
MSNBC made a major ratings bid to own the Ferguson Missouri story. They had hour after hour of coverage of it. Sharpton fit right in. I really trace it back to what Fred Siegel, who’s a distinguished New York City academic, called it ‘the riot ideology,’ which is to say, ‘If you don’t give us what we want, we’ll riot’ and MSNBC is now part of the process.
As I have said before, I do not support MSNBC’s decision to allow Sharpton to be both an activist and a host. Also, regular readers know I am disgusted by Sharpton’s failure to address the race baiting on Fox News in any kind of serious way. However, nobody taking a paycheck from Fox is in any position to be criticizing anyone else’s journalistic standards unless they take a hard look in their own back yard.
As a matter of fact, Kurtz needed to look no further than his own studio.
Watch the August 31 discussion below.
We sure are treacherous, aren’t we?
When I read Bruces’ comments above I swear I heard a long loud “BOING” sound effect.