Meet the Press Gives Al Sharpton Unchallenged Platform To Promote Involvement In Ferguson

With MSNBC’s Al Sharpton controversially playing the dual roles of television host and activist surrounding the events in Ferguson, Missouri, NBC’s Meet the Press felt the need to promote the liberal activist even further.

On Sunday, August 24, fill-in moderator Chris Jansing, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent, concluded her moderating duties by giving Sharpton 4 minutes and 30 seconds of unchallenged air time to promote his involvement in the Ferguson protests following the death of Michael Brown. [See video below.] 

Throughout the interview, Jansing failed to ask her guest a single difficult question and never challenged Sharpton about whether it was appropriate for him to be so closely involved in Ferguson. 

The NBC reporter began by hyping how Sharpton will “deliver the eulogy at that service” before promoting how “there has been a dramatic shift in the mood in Ferguson, for the better. Much calmer now. What can you say tomorrow to help that along?” 

As the segment continued, Jansing lobbied her guest to push for even more action in the wake of Michael Brown’s death: 

You and I talked a lot though, Reverend, after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. You've said that needs to be a moment. Many others said the same thing. We have also seen, as you alluded to, you led a march yesterday after another black man died in an incident involving police in New York City. Now you're going to be giving the eulogy for yet another funeral tomorrow. What's it going to take for that moment to change things freely?

Jansing proceeded to gush over Sharpton’s relationship with the Obama White House and wondered if Obama was doing enough to satisfy the MSNBC host’s activism:

There's a big article on you in Politico Magazine this week. It talks about how close your contact is with the White House, how you often serve as a kind of surrogate for the White House. But let me ask you about the president, and in the case of Ferguson in particular, race relations in America in general. Is he doing enough? 

The NBC reporter could have used the 4 minutes she had with Sharpton to ask him about his controversial past, including the Tawana Brawley and Crown Heights Riots cases. Instead, Jansing spent the entire time pushing Sharpton’s activism without once questioning his motives. 

Jansing’s softball interview is no surprise given that the two are colleagues at NBC, but her lack of serious questions, both to the MSNBC host and earlier to Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO) exposes how the NBC reporter has failed to drop MSNBC's “Lean Forward” liberal agenda. 

See relevant transcript below. 


NBC's Meet the Press

August 24, 2014

CHRIS JANSING: Welcome back. As we look ahead to the coming week in Ferguson, Missouri, the funeral of Michael Brown will take place tomorrow. Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights leader and host of MSNBC's Politics Nation will deliver the eulogy at that service, and he joins me now. Welcome. 

REV. AL SHARPTON: Thank you. 

JANSING: There has been a dramatic shift in the mood in Ferguson, for the better. Much calmer now. What can you say tomorrow to help that along? 

SHARPTON: I think that what we can say is that we must turn this moment into a movement to really deal with the underlying issues of police accountability and what is and is not allowable by police, and what citizens ought to be moving toward. I think that we need to deal with how we move towards solutions, how we deal with the whole aggressive policing of what is considered low-level crimes. And that goes from Ferguson to Staten Island, New York, to L.A. We see this occurring all over the country. And I think we need to move in that way otherwise we will end up only repeating ourselves every incident. 

JANSING: You and I talked a lot though, Reverend, after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. You've said that needs to be a moment. Many others said the same--

SHARPTON: Right. 

JANSING: Thing. We have also seen, as you alluded to, you led a march yesterday after another black man died in an incident involving police in New York City. Now you're going to be giving the eulogy for yet another funeral tomorrow. What's it going to take for that moment to change things freely?

SHARPTON: I think it's going to take legislation. Our demonstrations must lead to legislation. We need federal legislation, and we need the criminal justice system, which is why the federal government coming in is so important. I think the attorney general, Eric Holder's unprecedented trip sent a signal. We didn't see Bobby Kennedy go to the South in the civil rights era. We saw a sitting attorney general go to Ferguson, and I think that's historic. I think these moves will lead to real change. Our chants must lead to change, our demonstrations to legislation and we'll get up there. We must remember the Montgomery bus boycotts started in 1955; we didn't get civil rights legislation until '64, Civil Rights Act. Change takes time. But those of us that are committed are willing to put in the time because we cannot tolerate not having the change. 

JANSING: There's a big article on you in Politico Magazine this week. It talks about how close your contact is with the White House, how you often serve as a kind of surrogate for the White House. But let me ask you about the president, and in the case of Ferguson in particular, race relations in America in general. Is he doing enough? 

SHARPTON: First of all, I'm not a surrogate. I have access to the White House. In every era going back to Lincoln with Frederick Douglass, presidents talk to those that were leading at that time. I'm not comparing Marc Morial or Melanie Campbell and I to Frederick Douglass, but that's nothing unusual. I went to Ferguson because the family, the grandfather called and asked me to come. The White House called while I was there, talked to me, the head of the N.A.A.C.P., and others. So it’s not a surrogate; it is a customary, traditional role. I think the president, by addressing it twice while he was on vacation, not a statement but coming out live, and yet not compromising the right of the family. Because where I was nervous, because I've been in this a while, I'm not a studio activist or someone in an ivory tower, I've been in this. For the president to go further, then it would be used in a legal context of saying, "Oh, the president ordered the indictment," rather than letting a process go fairly. But the president governing, and saying how we've got to deal, as I'm reading this morning, he's saying we're going to deal with the military equipment and expenditures on citizens. We, in terms of those that are talking to the family and the lawyers, involved in this cases don't need the president to politicize it and give an escape from the criminal justice system for those that need to be investigated and possibly brought into the criminal justice system. So a lot of people talking are not talking to the victims, who don't need their rights violated by politics. 

JANSING: We have just a few seconds left, Reverend, but what would be justice in this case? 

SHARPTON: Justice is a fair and impartial investigation and let the facts go where they need to go. But too often, with local prosecutors, we don't get that. 

JANSING: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you so much. 

SHARPTON: Thank you. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.