While nothing has been officially announced, conventional wisdom—or at least media gossip—says that the Rev. Al Sharpton will be hosting the 6 p.m. hour of MSNBC. Which now means donations that Comcast (which owns NBC, MSNBC) made to Sharpton's organization, National Action Network, and his lobbying on behalf of the cable provider look at least a little interesting.
Yesterday, Wayne Barrett wrote on the Daily Beast:
Sharpton has a long and well-documented history of leveraging his civil-rights profile for his own benefit. Grabbing a prime-time anchor spot in exchange for cheerleading for a controversial merger would be the capper on that career. It’s gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance. Michael Copps, a Democrat who’d served on the FCC since 2001, declared, when he ultimately voted against it, that the merger “erodes diversity, localism and competition” and was “a huge boost for media industry (and digital industry) consolidation” as well as “a stake in the heart of independent content production,” charges that were echoed in a New York Times editorial. But Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn and the only minority member of the FCC, threw her decisive support behind the deal, citing a comprehensive diversity memorandum of agreement (MOU) signed by Sharpton as a mechanism that “will serve to keep the new entity honest in promoting diversity.”
MSNBC told the NY Times, "There is no agreement with Mr. Sharpton to host a program; however, it is important to note that Comcast plays no role in either the independent editorial decision-making of MSNBC or the selection of its hosts," while Sharpton pointed out that there weren't any hosting spots open when the merger was being reviewed, saying "How could there be a connection?"
At any rate, Sharpton is no stranger to controversy.