Will Sharpton Shift From Activist to TV Anchor?

St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans questions whether Al Sharpton the activist will change his approach in the anchor seat.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton (Getty Images)

In his St. Petersburg Times media column, Eric Deggans considers Rev. Al Sharpton's performance as anchorman -- and how his advocacy will translate in his new role -- just before the debut of his new show PoliticsNation on MSNBC. 

Given that I suggested MSNBC may have made a mistake in employing him, I was prepared for newly hired anchor Al Sharpton to bring it on when we finally talked about his latest gig.

But Sharpton, whose public career has lurched from pressing the later-debunked rape claims of Tawana Brawley to running for president, shrugged off any criticism with a casual confidence.

"I didn't think it was that great a leap," he said Thursday, noting he has hosted a radio show, Keeping It Real with Al Sharpton, for more than five years. "(Radio personalities-turned-MSNBC hosts) Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz do what I do ... a type of journalism based on opinion and advocacy."

At 6 p.m. today, MSNBC's viewers will decide for themselves exactly what Sharpton does, as his new show PoliticsNation debuts on MSNBC. The man himself was uncharacteristically taciturn about what's coming ...

I wondered: How would Sharpton's continuing work as an activist jibe with the NBC News standards all anchors must follow? And given that no person of color yet hosts a show on a major cable news channel in prime time -- they do appear in midday newscasts -- should MSNBC start down the road to diversity with someone known mostly as an activist?

Read Eric Deggans' entire post at the St. Petersburg Times.

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