All Articles Tagged "young turks"
Over the past few days, former MSNBC host and current online host of the “The Young Turks”, Cenk Uygur, has made his rounds on both television and the net discussing how he was summarily dismissed from his prime time slot at MSNBC. According to Uygur, his style of not treating members of Congress with enough deference and being too brash when criticizing The White House landed him in the hot seat.
On Sunday’s episode of “Reliable Sources”, host Howard Kurtz unwittingly added validity to Uygur’s depiction and account of the events withKurtz’ insistence that Uygur answer whether or not anybody at MSNBC asked Uygur to“moderate” his“political positions”.
Uygur has consistently paraphrased the head of MSNBC as saying, “we’d love to be outsiders, outsiders are cool, but we’re the establishment and you have to act like it.” Uygur never said he had a smoking gun since there never is a smoking gun or an explicit quote in situations where this type of pressure is applied. It’s always a wink and a nod, an order disguised as a suggestion or creative criticism.
So it pays to examine why Kurtz would ask a question that had already been answered when he could’ve just as well taken the opportunity to engage in a bit of real investigative journalism. He could’ve delved deeper into several questions that were central to the story; like who MSNBC’s chief was referring to when he said that people in Washington D.C. thought Uygur’s style was too rough? What was their proximity to power? And more specifically, what segments or aspects of Uygur’s reporting did they take issue with and why?
But instead of broadening the story and thoroughly chronicling the bad acts of all the influencers in this drama, including those who happily use media pundits as their proxy , Kurtz made this story solely about Uygur. It’s much easier to cast innuendo on one man than to cast aspersions on an entire system. Kurtz proved that.
Broadly speaking, the bigger issue at play here, though, is whether America still has an independent media. Narrowly speaking, the question is whether MSNBC will replace Uygur with a strong voice who is willing to take the Obama administration to task in much the same way that Uygur did. If MSNBC is being straightforward when it strongly asserts that it didn’t remove Uygur from the six o’clock slot for substance, but instead for style, then we should expect to see a Uygur-esque replacement in the coming days right? Far from it.
Slated to take Uygur’s spot in the six o’clock slot is media personality Al Sharpton, a man who in a recent 60 Minutes interview admitted to being an appendage of the White House and has vowed, owing tonothing more than race pride, not to criticize President Obama. Unlike Uygur who struggled against his constraints at MSNBC, Sharpton will happily operate within them as long as his paycheck affords him the opportunity to hobnob with Wall Street tycoons at the swanky,exclusive, and members only, Havana Room.
You see, although Al Sharpton refers to himself as an activist, few activists have as much unfettered access to money and power as Sharpton does. And even fewer activists use their network to squash political dissent rather than to amplify it.
In addition to thwarting any acts of real activism and netting himself access to New York’s most exclusive watering holes, Sharpton is now filling a slot that could’ve and should’ve been filled by – dare I say it –a black journalist.
And as evidenced by the 60 Minutes interview with the “Rev”, this is all much ado about rebranding himself and realigning his image with that of the Obama brand.
Believe it or not, this story is bigger than maligning President Obama (another criticism of Uygur) or defending President Obama (the new vocation of Sharpton). This is about whether or not anyone has the right to criticize this President, or any President, beyond a predetermined boundary. Or whether anyone would desire to.
If Cenk Uygur was admonished for his tone as well as substance, by extension, this means that those who currently warm the seats at MSNBC, from Dylan Ratigan at four o’clock to Rachel Maddow at nine, are currently operating within the same acceptable range of discourse set by their corporate bosses (Maddow less so because her ratings are higher and her quirky style is charmingly disarming.) And now MSNBC is doubling down on its bet by adding a man who has already vowed to advocate on behalf of the Obama administration? A toxic brew if ever there was one.
Just in case you haven’t guessed yet, let me tell you how this whole thing plays out: Gatekeepers like Al Sharpton, soon to hold MSNBC’s coveted prime time spot, will be rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence
Along the way, folks like Sharpton will recruit new non-thinkers – think Warren Ballentine – to take over slots like the one at MSNBC when he’s gone. It’s a win-win for Sharpton and his protégés. And it benefits the power structure that liberals and African Americans have been battling against since before Jim Crow.
It’s a perfect plan for the powers that be as long as we’re all too aloof to see the staggering differences between advocates like Cenk Uygur and pawns like Al Sharpton. The man who made his mark by marching down the streets of New York in loud colored jump suits has transitioned stylistically. His jump suits have been replaced with tailored suits. But substantively, he’s still the same; he still goes where the cameras are. The problem with this approach is that most African-Americans are battling unemployment, poor health care, and reduced income in the shadows. President Obama even refuses to address our issues independent of the rest of the country, so we’re relegated to the margins. Who will help us here?
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and BreakingBrown.com.