Uygur out, Sharpton likely in at MSNBC

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The Cenk Uygur experiment at MSNBC is officially over, with the outspoken host exiting in the same voluble manner that characterized his time there.

Uygur, who had hosted the news program “MSNBC Live” during the 6 p.m. hour, has left the network after it sought to move him to a less prominent slot. The host then went on his Internet show ‘The Young Turks’ on Wednesday night to lash out at MSNBC brass, particularly president Phil Griffin, for requiring a coziness with power players.

''People in Washington are concerned about your tone,’' Uygur said Griffin told him, a message he said he couldn’t abide. He said the network was too concerned with access to politicans and newsmakers at the expense of sound judgment and skepticism. (You can watch Uygur’s remarks on the video clip below.)

MSNBC now looks poised to hand the 6 p.m. ‘MSNBC Live’ chair to Al Sharpton, who delivered solid ratings in the three weeks since he began sitting in for Uygur. Still, it remains to be seen whether the civil-rights activist, who has never hosted a major news program, can reliably deliver an audience over the long term. The move does represents the latest phase in the migration of Sharpton from polarizing rabblerouser to the media mainstream.


Uygur was moved from a paid contributor to the regular 6 p.m. host in January, after the departure of Keith Olbermann resulted in Ed Schultz’s show moving out of that 6 p.m. slot. In his time at the network, Uygur provided a jolt of energy with an opinionated and lively tone — he was often critical of President Obama as much as he was certain Republican leaders — though his manner could be unpolished and rough around the edges. After respectable but not spectacular ratings, MSNBC at the end of June began trying out Sharpton.

Uygur did not reveal his next step — his Internet show, which is also broadcast on Sirius, garners millions of viewers — but in the meantime, he will appear Thursday night on Olbermann’s Current program. Uygur declined to say whether he’ll take on a more permanent role at the channel.

— Steven Zeitchik