MSNBC Touts Host Sharpton Holding Campaign Event for 2020 Dems

Unburdened by basic journalistic ethics, on Wednesday, a series of MSNBC hosts eagerly promoted 2020 Democratic candidates lining up to speak at the annual National Action Network conference in New York City – put on by their fellow MSNBC host Al Sharpton. Not concerning themselves with the obvious conflict of interest presented by the event, the anchors hailed it as an “influential” forum for presidential hopefuls to “woo” Democratic primary voters.

“Now, a dozen Democratic candidates right now are running for president and they’re all making campaign stops over the next three days right here in New York City for the National Action Network convention, formed in 1991 by my friend and colleague Reverend Al Sharpton,” Stephanie Ruhle proclaimed on her 9:00 a.m. ET hour show. She further declared: “The National Action Network is one of the most influential African-American organizations in this nation.”

 

 

Reporting live from the event, correspondent Ali Vitali assured viewers: “...as Sharpton is saying here on stage, he described this as not a ‘rah-rah’ conference but one that they want to focus on substance and issues.”

In the following hour, host Hallie Jackson hyped: “We are taking a live look now, on the left side of your screen, out of New York City, where right now a number of 2020 presidential candidates, including Beto O’Rourke, are gonna be on stage at the country’s biggest civil rights conference, the National Action Network convention.” She skipped any mention of Sharpton founding the liberal group, but promised: “We’re going to be watching all of the presidential candidates who are speaking at that conference today...”

“Let’s start with today’s big event, where Democrats running for president are trying to win over black voters,” Craig Melvin announced at the top of his show in the 11:00 a.m. ET hour. Like Ruhle, he proudly touted: “They’re attending the National Action Network’s annual convention. That convention, of course, hosted by MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton.”

The anchor even highlighted a clip of Sharpton urging Beto O’Rourke to back slavery reparations: “Moments ago...former Congressman Beto O’Rourke speaking. This is what he said when asked about a bill in Congress that would create a commission to study reparations.” In the soundbite, Sharpton pressed, “If that passes and you are President of the United States, would you sign that bill?” O’Rourke agreed: “Yes....absolutely, I would sign that into law.” He was greeted with cheers and applause.

Later in the segment, former Hillary Clinton campaign director Adrienne Elrod applauded the conference as “the first big real test” for Democratic presidential contenders “in front of a very significant, influential African-American constituency.” She predicted that “it’s gonna be interesting to see how today goes and what the reaction is from the attendees of this very important conference...”

Shortly after Elrod endorsed Sharpton’s crucial role in Democratic Party politics, Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart doubled down:

Another thing to pay attention to at this –  the NAN conference that Reverend Sharpton does every year, keep in mind, this is a long-established conference. Reverend Sharpton has been doing this for years in New York City. It has always been a must stop for New York politicians. You can’t run for office in New York City and New York State without going to that conference. And the other thing to keep in mind is that candidates will be asked all sorts of questions, they will say all sorts of things, and if they get themselves into trouble, it is more – it is as important to listen to what the candidate is saying as it is to listen to what Reverend Sharpton says or doesn’t say to help that candidate out in whatever problem they may or may not get into.

There was controversy when Sharpton was first given his own MSNBC show, PoliticsNation, in 2011. He gained air time on the cable channel only months after publicly endorsing Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal.

Since then, he has repeatedly blurred the lines between journalism and political activism, not to mention recent financial scandals involving his for-profit businesses and the National Action Network itself.

As much as MSNBC frets over Fox News allegedly having a cozy relationship with the Trump administration, the network seems unfazed by having a Democratic Party activist on their payroll. Some hosts even celebrate the unethical connection.

Here are excerpts of the April 3 coverage:

MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle
9:31 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Now, a dozen Democratic candidates right now are running for president and they’re all making campaign stops over the next three days right here in New York City for the National Action Network convention, formed in 1991 by my friend and colleague Reverend Al Sharpton. The National Action Network is one of the most influential African-American organizations in this nation. For more, I want to head out to NBC’s Ali Vitali. Ali, help us understand, what are attendees looking to here from candidates here?

ALI VITALI: Stephanie, you mentioned Reverend Al Sharpton, he’s actually kicking off this convention right behind me right now. So I’m going to use one of my lower voices to talk to you. But before he got on stage, I had a chance to talk with some of the folks who are attending here, and as Sharpton is saying here on stage, he described this as not a “rah-rah” conference but one that they want to focus on substance and issues.

(...)

VITALI: And, Stephanie, it’s interesting, in talking to a lot of people that I’ve met here, just before this conference, obviously there’s a lot of Democrats running, there seems to be a consensus that all of them are pretty good options. But there is a kind of a reticence to decide right now, at this point in the race. They want to hear from more people.

Names that I’ve heard are Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, but those are also names that have been given a fair degree of media attention, mostly because they’ve been in the spotlight for a longer time than some others. And so, folks that are attending here want to hear more from people and they’re definitely going to get that chance. This is a conference that’s attracting many 2020 hopefuls. Today you’re going to hear from Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang. Tomorrow, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who one of the folks here reminded me just pulled in a big fundraising haul, and then the rest of the 2020 field arrives here on Friday. So the cavalry is arriving, Stephanie, it’s all happening right here.

(...)

MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson
10:18 AM ET

(...)

HALLIE JACKSON: We are taking a live look now, on the left side of your screen, out of New York City, where right now a number of 2020 presidential candidates, including Beto O’Rourke, are gonna be on stage at the country’s biggest civil rights conference, the National Action Network convention. O’Rourke has been talking about criminal justice, other issues facing African-American communities.

(...)

JACKSON: That has been Beto O’Rourke. We’re going to be watching all of the presidential candidates who are speaking at that conference today, keeping an eye on any new reaction to what they have to say.

(...)

MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin
11:01 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: Let’s start with today’s big event, where Democrats running for president are trying to win over black voters. Today through Friday, about a dozen candidates will descend on New York City. They’re attending the National Action Network’s annual convention. That convention, of course, hosted by MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton. The mission here, to woo a group that can make or break a candidate running during the primaries. Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro scheduled to speak any moment now in New York City. Moments ago, another Texan, former Congressman Beto O’Rourke speaking. This is what he said when asked about a bill in Congress that would create a commission to study reparations.

AL SHARPTON: If that passes and you are President of the United States, would you sign that bill?

BETO O’ROURKE: Yes. [Cheers and applause] Civil rights are not just those victories that I began with at the outset of my comments, but the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people. We will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country. So absolutely, I would sign that into law.     

(...)

MELVIN: Ali, I’ll start with you there, with Beto O’Rourke. He made a little news with his comments about reparations. He also seemed to perhaps make some news with his comments just moments ago about former Vice President Joe Biden.

ALI VITALI: Yeah, Craig, that’s right. And I want to first start with the comments that he made about reparations. This is actually a pretty specific commitment from him. He has spoken at length about these issues before, but been a little bit vague. At least in this instance, he was asked directly about Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill in Congress right now, and if it passed, would he sign it as president? He gave a very simple answer here, “Yes.” He followed that with an, “Absolutely, yes.”

The crowd seemed excited to hear that. Which is not exactly surprising, because conversations that I had with voters here beforehand, their really focused on issues of voter suppression and civil rights. And so, this is certainly a message that they wanted to hear from Beto O’Rourke here today. Who at the start of his remarks, he got some applause, but by the end, the crowd was really feeling his energy.

(...)

ADRIENNE ELROD [CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS]: This is the first big real test, especially in front of a very significant, influential African-American constituency. So it’s gonna be interesting to see how today goes and what the reaction is from the attendees of this very important conference, what their reaction is to the candidates who are speaking over the next few days.

(...)

JONATHAN CAPEHART [WASHINGTON POST]: Another thing to pay attention to at this –  the NAN conference that Reverend Sharpton does every year, keep in mind, this is a long-established conference. Reverend Sharpton has been doing this for years in New York City. It has always been a must stop for New York politicians. You can’t run for office in New York City and New York State without going to that conference. And the other thing to keep in mind is that candidates will be asked all sorts of questions, they will say all sorts of things, and if they get themselves into trouble, it is more – it is as important to listen to what the candidate is saying as it is to listen to what Reverend Sharpton says or doesn’t say to help that candidate out in whatever problem they may or may not get into.     

(...)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Liberals & Democrats MSNBC PoliticsNation Video National Action Network Stephanie Ruhle Hallie Jackson Craig Melvin Al Sharpton

Sponsored Links