The Sharpton Sized Elephant in MSNBC’s Buchanan Room…

We still don’t know what Phil Griffin and MSNBC will ultimately do in regards to the Pat Buchanan situation. What we do know is that if Buchanan is taken out permanently, there will be blow-back. And let’s start with what will likely become the focal point for those who take issue with Buchanan getting taken off permanently.

To remind everyone, here is what Phil Griffin said at the TCA concerning Buchanan.

Mr. Griffin said, “The ideas he put forth aren’t really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC.”

If that is now Griffin’s litmus test with regards to Buchanan, it will be one that people will use to examine the records of all other MSNBC contractual talent. And here’s where the trouble begins for MSNBC because if the person at MSNBC with the most baggage and history of controversial, provocative, and (some would argue) hate producing commentary at the network is Pat Buchanan, the person with the second largest amount of baggage and history of controversial, provocative, and (some would argue) hate producing commentary at the network is Al Sharpton. By using the “appropriate for national dialogue” litmus test on Buchanan, MSNBC is all but inviting the same litmus test to be applied to Sharpton. And Sharpton would fail that test just as Buchanan apparently has.

This would put MSNBC in a real quandary. If it takes Buchanan out but leaves Sharpton in place it’s opening itself up for a whole bunch of questions it really doesn’t want to answer. It will be forced to discuss how Buchanan’s controversial history is not appropriate to the point that he has to be taken off the air but Sharpton’s at times even more inflammatory rhetoric and history is. MSNBC doesn’t want to discuss that. It’s a lose-lose scenario.

The subject would next parry to how MSNBC could justify keeping Sharpton on the air if it got rid of Buchanan. Another lose-lose scenario. The conventional wisdom is Sharpton appeals to the Progressive demographic and that’s a core constituency MSNBC does not want to alienate right now because of the perceived threat from the even more leftward bent Current TV. Some would say MSNBC is paranoid about Current TV. I think the threat is vastly overstated because Current hasn’t shown that it can even do the most basic rudimentary cable programing things correctly. Look at Olbermann’s set or the network’s premature cut-out of the Iowa caucuses if you don’t believe me. And then there’s the hiring of Jennifer Granholm who isn’t exactly a progressive firebrand of the type that Olbermann and Uygur are. Given all that, plus the Al Gore backed channel’s poor distribution, one could easily argue that FBN is a bigger threat to CNBC than Current is to MSNBC.

Nonetheless, one could make the case that MSNBC has taken an irrational to the point of being paranoid defensive posture regarding being out-left-flanked by Current. I don’t think you’d see either Chris Hayes or Melissa Harris-Perry with weekend shows if MSNBC wasn’t worried about the potential of Current poaching. The fact that they’d be poached down what would amount to a Nielsen black hole is beside the point. They’d be poached.

When you are in a branding fight, facts on the ground can take a back seat to perception. Keith Olbermann first sowed the seeds of this fight by implying that MSNBC wasn’t progressive enough…that it was too much of the establishment. Cenk Uygur further drilled this thesis down by his very public falling out with the network. The perception was starting to take shape.

If MSNBC doesn’t get rid of Buchanan now, it re-enforces that perception amongst Progressives. Remember, this is a branding fight over ideology not a fight over indisputable facts. If it was a fight over facts and absolute appropriateness for the national dialogue, both Buchanan and Sharpton’s records would have to be examined side by side. MSNBC doesn’t want that because it forces the network into a position where it has to at least tacitly admit that it’s carving out an exception for Sharpton because Sharpton and his views carry Progressive street cred whereas Buchanan and his views carry Progressive street ire.

But the network will likely face no alternative now but to put itself through this gauntlet of examination. It’s just too obvious a comparison to ignore. The network can dodge the issue as long as it remains confined to the ideological they said/they said periphery. But I’m not convinced it will stay confined there given what happened at the TCA. This will likely creep into the mainstream press and all it takes is one or two well connected media writers with enough clout to force the issue of the perceived Buchanan/Sharpton double standard and MSNBC will probably not be able to successfully dodge that.

MSNBC should have seen this coming and if it didn’t it was foolish not to. I warned the network when it was close to hiring Sharpton…

Sharpton, like Eliot Spitzer, carries a lot of prior baggage which could detonate at any time in MSNBC’s face.

I just wasn’t expecting that a potential Pat Buchanan dismissal from MSNBC would be what could light the fuse to that Sharpton baggage bomb…

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53 Responses to “The Sharpton Sized Elephant in MSNBC’s Buchanan Room…”

  1. Sharpton will stay because he is back (oh yes, I am bringing race into this discussion) and Color of Change, who was the big push behind getting rid of Buchanan, could care less about Sharpton’s background. They (MSNBC + C of C) are hoping (and my guess) that Sharpton;s crap happened long enough ago that most viewers who watch MSNBC now wouldn’t have a clue who Tawana Brawley (sp?) is. There is so much more but we all know how hypocritical progressives are.

  2. Sharpton’s crap happened long enough ago

    Exactly. Buchanan would still be there, too, if he hadn’t decided to re-up the “threat to the white race” crap again. I’m willing to bet your average MSNBC viewer was only vaguely – if at all – familiar with either man’s more extreme past pronouncements. Pat forced Griffin’s hand.

  3. missy5537 Says:

    Sorry, Pam, but the “good Rev.” is busy with more repulsive behavior as we speak. This very moment he is planning on ambushing Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s home/neighborhood, to terrorize his family and neighbors. It’s because Snyder has the audacity to try to clean up the cesspool which is Detroit.

    Thanks to years of democrat rule, Detroit’s finances mirror what it’s streets look like. Snyder is trying to clean it up, to the protest of Sharpton and anyone who sides with him. I guess we’re supposed to just continue to dump money into that hellhole for eternity, with no accountability expected EVER!

    Sharpton’s pal Kwame Kilpatrick finished off what Coleman Young started in the 60s, and Snyder is trying to salvage what he can and try to turn this around. So of course he is a target for Sharpton.

    And if Sharpton was NOT in the business of intimidating the governor, why would he appear at his home, where the Snyder family resides (Snyder is NOT residing at the governor’s mansion, but at his own private residence)? Is this behavior not repulsive? Apparently not enough for MSNBC!
    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120115/METRO/201150334/Critics-emergency-manager-law-target-Snyder-s-Ann-Arbor-home?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

  4. I just may have to read Buchanan’s damn book. From what I’ve heard it’s not the “racial” thing people say it is.

  5. You talk like this, you’re gonna get fired. And don’t tell me Murdoch or Ailes would put up with it, either.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/pat-buchanan-white-americ_n_1018453.html

  6. Didn’t seem so horrible if you listen to what he actually says. I think he’s wrong and a poor judge of what the future holds, of course.

  7. “Black/brown race war” isn’t your typical cable news commentary..

  8. I don’t think that is what he says, but I’ll have to read the damn book. Maybe, because I don’t like Pat Buchanan anyway.

  9. ‘”Are you against minorities?” Hannity asked. “Not at all,” Buchanan said. He said that the chapter was merely an attempt to examine what he thought would happen when whites no longer formed a majority of the American population.’

    How dare he go there? He should stay in more accepted endeavors then writing thought provoking books. Perhaps he could get some tax dollars to paint the virgin Mary using pachyderm poo.

  10. Apparently I have to read the article for you.

    “Are you against minorities?” Hannity asked. “Not at all,” Buchanan said. He said that the chapter was merely an attempt to examine what he thought would happen when whites no longer formed a majority of the American population.

    “America is going to look very much like California right now,” Buchanan said, going on to paint a very gloomy picture of the state (bankruptcy, a “black-brown war among the underclass,” and so on), and claiming that, in Los Angeles, “half the people there don’t speak English in their own homes.”

    His implication is that Bad Things Happen when whites are not the majority. That’s racist, and he’s nuts.

  11. I don’t have a dog in this fight but your over-simplification of Buchanan’s point says more about your preconceived notions than it does about Buchanan’s views. That’s not his implication. That’s your implication.

  12. That’s not racist; It is fact. As for his prediction of what the USA will be like in a few decades, he’s nuts. I have no idea what the future holds but I do know Pat Buchanan’s predictions have always been gloomy and almost always wrong.

  13. ^ I meant what Buchanan said was fact, not Joe’s version of what he meant.

  14. missy5537 Says:

    As long as the minority population is in fact undereducated or underproducing economically, Buchanan’s points are certainly valid.

    Look at the Detroit thing, above. Democrats/entitlement culture/crime (but I repeat myself!) took over the city, and whites vacated to the suburbs, thereby taking away most of the tax base. The place is a cesspool right now, heavily subsidized by state and federal taxpayers. And now that the governor wants to clean up Detroit’s finances, Sharpton et al are of course crying racism, telling “whitey” to get out of the city, etc. Fine, but then keep out our money as well.

  15. The “minority” population, by and large, are neither undereducated nor under-producing. First generation black immigrants (from Africa, Caribbean, or anywhere else), for example, are among the fastest growing populations of upper-income levels. Most immigrant groups who do not become addicted to government assistance programmes are like this. Detroit is a good example of what happens to communities who fall victim to federal programmes and subsidies, although unions are what finally broke it.

  16. Buchanan’s claim is that the large population of minorities in LA is the reason for its problems. The implication is clear. It’s racist.

  17. No, Joe, that’s not his claim. At least it’s not from what he’s said so far. Need to read the book to know for sure.

  18. Yers, it is. This statement is not open to “interpretation”. It says exactly what it sounds like it says:

    Buchanan said that the people of color in California “are not bad or evil people,” but that they are bankrupting the state. He concluded, “What happens when all of America is like that, when every American city is like LA? …What California is today, America is in 2041 if we don’t change course.”

  19. “I have no idea what the future holds but I do know Pat Buchanan’s predictions have always been gloomy and almost always wrong.”

    The only “acceptable” answer is that the future will yield a blended race with the best qualities of every race shared in happy neighborhood on Seseme Street. Shame that the damn robots we create will wipe it out.

  20. Joe, just because it’s not politically correct to say so doesn’t mean it’s not true. Are most of them on entitlements, committing crimes, otherwise draining the system more than they’re contributing? I’m not asking rhetorically; I really want to know. Because if it’s “yes” to the above, Buchanan is right, no matter how much you hate to hear it. And if the answer is “no”, then HE is wrong.

  21. Yikes. I was just ready to say I’ll be dead in 2041 so what do I care, but actually my mom lived to that age, so maybe I’ll follow.

    Wow. I’ll be ancient!

  22. Any attempt to claim that “most of” any race is causing a problem is a recipe for disaster. There was a time when a dictator thought “most of the Jews” were a threat to him and his country. Not good.

  23. Didn’t Sharpton two weeks ago call the GOP the “WHITE wing” of the Republican party? Will MSNBC look into that and punish Sharpton? Also why a Melissa Harris Perry getting a show? She is more of a race bating than Buchanan. And she also makes a living off it.

  24. The sad part is that Pat is a quality person and Sharpton’s a slug. Keep that in mind in their comparisons.

  25. I think Pat is a great guest when he’s not on the “white man under threat” bandwagon. It’s sad he threw away a good gig for his pet hysteria.

  26. He didn’t throw anything away. He is being thrown away.

  27. Pat didn’t throw anything away. He’s been consistent in his views as long as he’s been on MSNBC. It’s MSNBC that is forcing this issue.

  28. Unless Buchanan has been talking about this stuff in recent years in a forum I am unaware of, it’s the book that forced the issue.

  29. missy: I agree with your Detroit assessment. We have a friend here in Madison who grew up in Detroit, has made a lot of money (doctoring) and actually wanted to invest $ in Detroit by buying properties in his old neighborhood (kind if like Habitat for Humanity through another organization) but when he spent time there he could find few people who were willing to step up and do their own sweat equity so after two homes he backed off of his plan. It has become an entitlement city and it shows to someone who grew up there and to those of us who didn’t.

  30. She is more of a race bating (sp) than Buchanan. And she also makes a living off it.

    Has she ever written a book openly expressing concern over an apparent epidemic regarding the white race taking over and changing the course of civilization in the US?

    Buchanan is actually worried about the white race becoming a minority, and wants to find a way to avoid it. So, just like he can give commentary about race relations, MHP can do the same.

    Where’s your double standard, ash?

  31. Unless Buchanan has been talking about this stuff in recent years in a forum I am unaware of, it’s the book that forced the issue.

    Wrong. It’s the book that’s being used as the scapegoat to force this issue. The reality is Buchanan’s been talking and writing about this for as long as I can remember. It’s MSNBC and its coveting of Progressive viewers that’s the new ingredient in this mess…

  32. Joe is stuck in his stubborn gear. Needs to pop the clutch.

  33. Ever have a steak that was so LEAN it was bland tasting?

  34. lonestar77 Says:

    Joe shows why MSNBC won’t have to deal with this issue in any meaningful way. Who’s going to call MSNBC out? It’s viewers? Uh, no. The media? Not a chance.

    To people like Joe, anybody that discusses race issues from any viewpoint other than “whites are evil, minorities are awesome” is by definition a “racist”.

    Say some notable journalist called MSNBC out over the hypocrisy. Color of Change and others like them would do what they always do and call that person a “racist”, prolly demand a boycott, etc. It’s just not worth it. The one area where the left has won is in demagoguery regarding race. If you don’t toe the lefty line on race issues, they call you a racist. Every GOP candidate has been called a racist at some point during this election cycle and no matter who the nominee is, charges of racism will fly throughout the campaign. It’s the knee-jerk liberal response to everything.

  35. I saw the sour mug of Reverand (shows God has a sense of humor) Sharpton at the start of MOURNING JOE and turned it off. Of course I’m of the demographic that MSNBC would want to do so.

  36. I’ll repeat my contention: Pat’s problem is that he confuses or mixes race with culture. They’re just not the same. And he’s done this for several decades and not just recently.

    If we have a problem, as he views it, with brown and black people creating a different (and for him, worse) America, it’s because of their cultural views and not because of their race. If immigrants from Central America are speaking Spanish and waving Mexican flags and not assimilating into America, it’s not because their skin is brown. It’s because, for whatever reason, our institutions are not assimilating them.

    Why he insists on talking about how America is a “superpower commiting suicide” because, in part, of the decline of the number of white babies is simply bizarre to me.

    Buchanan talks about culture and values and traditions and religion and also about race. It’s a more sophisticated argument than just about race. To be sure, critics who say that he blames black and brown people for our problems are unfairly simplifying what he says.

    But he does talk about the race question. And that’s, for me, where he goes off course.

  37. lonestar77 Says:

    ^ Well, that’s all fine and good. People on every network, every day, say things I don’t agree with. But, I don’t suck my thumb and demand for them to be fired.

  38. the fact that Buchanan talks about race. ACUTUALLY talks about it, gives Eric a chance to give a thoughtful entry into the conversation. Pat has done nothing incenderary enough to prevent that, but in fact, encourages it. My chief complaint is to the forces that would silence Pat rather than to engage or challenge.

  39. lonestar77 Says:

    Let’s be honest, Larry, the left isn’t often interested in engaging in conversation, they’re interested in silencing opposing voices. That’s why their rebuttal to everything is “you/he/she/it is racist”.

  40. ^^^Well, I never called for his dismissal or suspension or whatever the heck he’s going through either.

    Buchanan makes a lot of the same arguments that the late liberal icon Arthur Schlesinger Jr. made in the “Disuniting of America.” And Schlesinger – who marched with King – was called the same names that Buchanan is.

    There is no doubt that there’s an element on the left (not a small one either) who want to silence any discussion about assimilation and culture and what is called the “American creed.” Questions such as: “What does it mean to be an American?” That’s because they don’t like America and they sure don’t like its creed. Buchanan is right here: they want to change America. For the worse.

    Unfortunately Pat trips himself up with the notoriously problematic race question. And his legitimate points and questions get pushed aside.

  41. lonestar77 Says:

    Yeah, I get your persepective; my point is that while all of the arguments you made are fine and while you and others may not agree with Pat, that’s no excuse for his being silenced. I understand you’re not calling for that but MSNBC & people like Joe are.

    The point I was making is that you’re not going to agree with everything Pat or anyone else says. I don’t agree with 95% of what I see on MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc; but, I don’t think those people should be silenced. I might think those networks should provide more balance. And, at MSNBC, there’s plenty to counter Pat.

    People on the left always say we need to talk about race. But, what they really mean is they want conservatives to say white people suck and minorities are mistreated and whatever other nonsense they spew. They don’t want a discussion, they want everybody to mimic their talking points.

  42. On a similar issue, why I consider Tommy a liberal to have as a friend:

    http://mediaite.com/a/dymzm

  43. lonestar77 Says:

    ^ That’s meeting low expectations. Because he doesn’t think she should be fired from CNN for comments she made on her radio show that were offensive to no one except the relatives of dead taliban members?

    Is there actually any one who thinks she should be fired? Outside of media matters?

  44. I don’t know who “people like Joe” are, but I didn’t call for him to be fired. Some people here seem incapable of determining the difference between analysis and opinion.

  45. This comments section is brought to you by The Bill & Rusty Gates Foundation, The Corporation for Cable Broadcasting, your local ICN 2.0 website, and people like Joe. THANK YOU.

  46. I’m kinda glad MSDNC had gotten rid of Pat because that move isolates MSNBC as nothing but a hard left propaganda channel that has low ratings anyways.

  47. imnotblue Says:

    Let me ask a question. I just read something on Mediaite, where the poster was saying the reason Affirmative Action is needed, is because it helps “the disadvantaged” get their foot in the door. And because minorities are more “disadvantaged” and likely to live in a worse area, that’s why they need “help.”

    Compare that to what Joe said was wrong with Pat’s LA statement. Seems pretty similar… both draw rage from the left, but for opposite reasons.

    Hypocrisy, or just misinformed logic?

  48. mlong5000 Says:

    Well it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who noticed the double standards regarding Buchanan treatment and Sharptons….and like I said what ever Pat as ever said never got anybody hurt unlike Al who got PEOPLE KILLED!!!!…and that shouldn’t be excused by saying well that happen a long time ago.

  49. Nobody here gives a damn about the various facts in this case. This whole debate is an ICN rightwing “double standard” cluster****.

  50. I have to agree with Larry. You’re stuck in a gear and need to pop the clutch.

    I’ll repeat my contention: Pat’s problem is that he confuses or mixes race with culture. They’re just not the same. And he’s done this for several decades and not just recently.

    I wouldn’t dispute that but the reverse is also true. A lot of racism charges, THOUGH CERTAINLY NOT ALL RACISM CHARGES, that get hurled about are thrown at people who are talking about cultural differences.

  51. One has to consider all facts, not just their favorites.

  52. No clutch..automatic. My gears shift independently of me. There is no coordination between myself and the gears..I can’t tell them what to do.

  53. ^ We can rebuild him. We have the technology. Joe can be…. The Six Dollar Man!

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