An Open Letter to Phil Griffin, President MSNBC
Dear Mr. Griffin,
Let me begin this letter by telling you that until this week, I was an avid viewer of MSNBC.  As a progressive thinking American, I have come to appreciate the insightful, informative and intelligent commentary of many, if not most of MSNBC’s anchors.

To say that I was stunned and profoundly disappointed to learn that Rev. Al Sharpton would be joining the MSNBC team would be an understatement. In hiring Mr. Sharpton to host the show, “PoliticsNation” every evening at 6 PM, you sir, have shown the world that credibility, professionalism, and high standards for journalism have little or nothing to do with how you determine who is deserving of an anchor chair on your network.

Tell me Mr. Griffin, how would you explain Mr. Sharpton’s selection to the community of Crown Heights, where  just last week, people remembered the 20th

Rev. Al Sharpton admonishing angry crowds during the Crown Heights pogrom:  “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!”

anniversary of the worst pogrom that Jewish people have experienced outside of Europe?  At the heart of that pogrom was Al Sharpton agitating angry African-Americans to impose vigilante justice on Jewish residents of the neighborhood because of a regrettable car accident that killed one child and injured another.  Time and again your new anchor admonished angry crowds to march and shout, “No justice, no peace.”

Are those the words of someone committed to community building and social harmony?

I’m sure that the family of the murdered Jewish student, Yankel Rosenbaum would welcome any explanations you can offer as to why the chief agitator in those riots is now worthy of a prestigious position on the MSNBC evening lineup.

By the way Mr. Griffin, do you remember that funny story about a girl named Tawana Brawly?  If memory serves me right, back in October, 1988 the 15-year-old decided to party with her friends and disappeared without letting her concerned family know where she was.  To cover-up her bad judgment, Tawana later told her family that she had been kidnapped by 6 white men including some local policemen who had repeatedly raped her.  The family was naturally enraged and reported this horrendous bit of fiction to the media that ran with it long before any part of it could be substantiated.

Of course, Rev. Al believed that no one else was qualified to give Tawana’s family the kind of guidance and support that a race-baiting sleazy demagogue like him could.  As quick as you can say, lights-camera-action Rev. Al took center stage to once again try to make us believe that his ego-centric clown show as a civil rights crusader should be taken seriously.

I also seem to recall that when the proverbial dust settled and Tawana’s adolescent fairy-tale was exposed the same prosecutor that Ms. Brawly suggested had been one of her assailants successfully sued her and …. oh yes, Rev. Al Sharpton for defamation.

Tell Mr Griffin,  do people who have been found guilty of defamation make for credible political pundits and news anchors on any network? Well, maybe Fox Noise.  

Rev. Sharpton was always at Tawana Brawly’s side when she told her lies to the media.

If by any chance Mr Griffin, you have any interest in reassuring people who have been victimized over the years by Rev Sharpton that he has cleaned up his act after decades of being a racial agitator, you might want to be in touch with Fred Harari and the families of the 7 employees who died in Mr. Harari’s Harlem store, Freddies Fashion Mart on December 8, 1995.

Harari,  a Jewish businessman, operated the clothing store on a 125th Street with a happy, loyal staff composed of African-Americans from the neighborhood.  Mr. Harari was asked by his landlord, the black Pentecostal Church to evict his longtime sub-tenant, The Record Shop which was owned by a black person.  After Harari informed the record shop owner that he could not continue to sublet the space, your new 6 o’clock anchor quickly organized demonstrations not against the Pentecostal Church, but against Harari.   According to reputable sources, Rev. Sharpton told the demonstrators and the community of Harlem that “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.”

One of the angriest protesters, Roland Smith, Jr., inspired by Rev. Al’s inflammatory rhetoric,  walked into Freddie’s Fashion Mart of December 8th, shot several customers and set the store on fire before turning his gun on himself. I’m sure the families of the 7 employees of the Fashion Mart who died that day from smoke inhalation would like to understand why a person who was indirectly responsible for that nightmare is now considered a professional journalist that people can trust and turn to as a reliable source of news and information.

Mr. Griffin, if you really want to sell the new “Rev. Al Sharpton” in the shadow of decades of being a sleeze-ball agitator who has destroyed the reputations and careers of so many, you might want to spend some quality time with some of the many folks who were caught up in the 2006 Duke University lacrosse team debacle.

How did that go again?  Oh yes, I remember: Some of those naughty jocks hired an African-American exotic dancer and professional escort for a party after which she accused the team of gang-rape.

Your 6 PM anchor found his way to Durham, NC to get in on the action faster than a Klansman can tie a hangman’s noose.

Along with that other ministerial giant of racial disharmony, Jesse Jackson, the two told the world that the wheels of justice in that southern city were not moving fast enough because the victim was black and the accused perps were all white.  As a result of their racial grandstanding:

  • The President of Duke canceled all Lacrosse scheduled games for that year.
  • The coach of the team was forced to resign because he had the audacity to defend his players
  • The local DA felt compelled to charge three of the team members with rape

As we all know now, the entire case fell apart for lack of evidence and numerous inconsistencies in the victim’s various accounts of what happened.

Mr. Griffin what I have outlined in this letter are just some of the more well-known, unfortunate, and sometimes fatal events your new anchor has been associated with, if not actually responsible for.

Rev. Al Sharpton is not worthy of being a journalist or a pundit on MSNBC, unless of course you want to confirm the cynicism of most people who are inclined to believe that in the world of television, good taste, ethics and common decency take a back seat to ratings.

I also can’t help but wonder Mr. Griffin, how the other MSNBC anchors feel privately about having their good names and reputations associated with a “colleague” of such questionable character?  I for one expected more from a network that can proudly boast of having such highly respected and valued professionals like Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews.

I can’t encourage you enough to reconsider this decision.  Progressive thinking Americans need and want a news outlet that they can trust and feel proud of; for the moment, you’ve taken that away from us.


Mitchell S. Gilbert