Looks like the long knives are coming out over at NBC News’ cable outlet MSNBC.
After yesterday’s hilarious and painful performance by their newest star, Al Sharpton, blogs and media observers were quick to write headlines describing the incident as a “TelePrompter Mishap”. Huffington Post sexy headline: “Al Sharpton’s Teleprompter Flub” implied that MSNBC’s host couldn’t read or his crew screwed up. Politico chimed in with “Al Sharpton’s Teleprompter Trouble” again suggesting that it was probably an equipment malfunction.
MediaBistro called it a “Ridiculous Flub on MSNBC” and wrote “Sharpton began an editorial on the Wisconsin recall elections, but partway through his TelePrompTer failed, and after flubbing a couple of lines he moved on.”
But this morning, MediaBistro added an update to their post which clears up all of the assumptions journalists made about the origins of the Sharpton on-air mishap and shows that Sharpton has some enemies over on the set of his show:
Update: When we were tipped off, we were told it was a prompter fail, but we have since heard from two people at 30 Rock who say that there was no prompter issue, Sharpton was simply ad-libbing and flubbed his lines.
The fact that unnamed sources at NBC News went out of their way to tell MediaBistro that Sharpton is solely responsible for the horrible performance is a clear sign that not everyone at 30 Rock is in favor of the controversial activist getting his own show. And since Sharpton has not made a statement about his bizarre antics, this now keeps him from blaming the TelePrompter.
Frankly, it is more troublesome that the prompter was not involved in this segment. If Sharpton can’t competently speak from the heart about a subject like the Wisconsin recall vote without the benefit of a TelePrompter, than what good is he? The only justifiable reason to put this guy on the air is that he is passionate and effective in communicating edgy, liberal ideas to the MSNBC target audience. If he’s incapable of doing that without turning NBC News into a laughing stock, then he truly serves no useful purpose to the network.
For the record: We here at Big Journalism (and Breitbart.tv which first produced the viral clip) took no position on what caused the entertaining live television moment. We just thought it was hilarious and further magnified the fact that Al Sharpton just doesn’t deserve the honor of a prime time, one hour news show on a major cable network.