Reverend Al Sharpton, who has hosted an early-evening program on MSNBC for four years, is moving to a once-a-week perch at the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news network as it seeks to focus more intently on breaking-news coverage and less on partisan viewpoint and opinion.
The last edition of Sharpton’s weekday program, “PoliticsNation,” will air Friday, September 4, according to a memo sent Wednesday evening to MSNBC staffers by network president Phil Griffin. The program will now air on Sundays at 8 a.m., Griffin said.
MSNBC will air breaking-news coverage in Sharpton’s current 6 p.m. slot, Griffin said, and will unveil a new program in that time period at a later point. Sharpton’s new show will have its first Sunday airing on October 4.
“I want to congratulate Al and his team. For four years they have done a terrific job bringing his voice and a big spotlight to issues of justice, civil rights and equality,” Griffin said in the memo. “And as many of you know, The Rev never missed a show. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with a Sunday morning newsmaker program.”
For the last several months MSNBC has sought to move away from the progressive analysis and viewpoint that once fueled it to new heights. Gone are shows hosted by Ronan Farrow, Joy Reid and Ed Schultz, among others, and in their place is programming aimed to burnish the reporting of NBC News. The gradual turnaround comes not only after MSNBC ratings have tumbled in recent years but after the arrival of Andy Lack as the new executive overseeing both MSNBC and NBC News.
Sharpton’s arrival at MSNBC caused some people to do a double take. The network’s appointment of the host, a noted civil-rights activist and Baptist minister, raised issues of whether a network with ties to a network-news operation should air such a program. Sharpton’s program was also the subject of satirical pokes from “Saturday Night Live.”
In a tweet Wednesday morning, Sharpton said he was happy to move the program to Sundays. “I am honored with now being a Sunday Morning TV host. Great!!”