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Al Sharpton Defends His New MSNBC Job

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SHARPTON
AP

Al Sharpton has faced a barrage of criticism since he debuted on MSNBC, but the network's newly minted anchor took the chance to respond in an interview with the Daily Beast.

Sharpton's gig as the host of "PoliticsNation" became official on Tuesday. He first became the de facto host of the network's 6 PM hour in July after Cenk Uygur's public fall out with MSNBC executives. Since then, he has already made a splash by, among other things, criticizing Pat Buchanan for calling Obama "your boy."

But his arrival has been trailed by controversy, with reporters questioning his close ties to Comcast, which owns MSNBC, and with black journalists criticizing the network for hiring him when there are no black journalists hosting prime time shows on cable news.

Speaking to Lloyd Grove, Sharpton dismissed these criticisms. He said that his negotiations with Comcast about the company's diversity came before there was any anchor slot available on MSNBC. Responding to the criticism from black journalists, Sharpton said that the choice would have been between him and another non-journalist, and that his tension with the National Association of Black Journalists has been resolved.

“To be fair about it, the NABJ understood that if I didn’t get it, it wouldn’t have gone to a journalist," Sharpton said. "There are no journalists [as hosts] after 5 p.m. on MSNBC."

Sharpton also addressed his hosting style. Since he began the job, he has sometimes seemed a little stiff in the anchor chair. Like any newcomer, he is still getting used to the teleprompter.

For his part, Sharpton told the Daily Beast, “I hate Teleprompters," but also expressed confidence that he would improve. “I’m getting more relaxed and I’m getting more comfortable," he said.

He suggested that he might come into his own style now that the show is officially his, calling it "a different ball game." He noted that people might have been critical if he overdid his performance when he first substituted for Ed Schultz.

"But if I had come in all-guns-blazing-Al Sharpton, they’d say, ‘What are you doing? Trying to take over and get Ed out?’" Sharpton said.

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