CNN's Howard Kurtz questioned what he described as Al Sharpton's conflicting roles in covering the story of Trayvon Martin's killing.
Martin was shot and killed in late February by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman volunteer, who claimed the teenager looked suspicious. Martin was walking home from his father's house in a gated community of Sanford, Florida. He was carrying a pack of Skittles and iced tea.
News of Martin's death exploded into the headlines when it became known that George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, was not arrested or even thoroughly investigated after his actions. Public figures and supporters of Martin's family called out for justice, alleging that Martin was a victim of racial profiling.
Sharpton has been one of the most outspoken activists in the Martin case. On Thursday, he participated in a rally in Sanford, Florida with Martin's family and friends. Between speeches, he taped his MSNBC show "PoliticsNation," and devoted coverage to the rally and shooting of Martin.
Kurtz wondered how MSNBC could allow Sharpton to participate in the rally and subsequently cover the event for his MSNBC show. "How on earth can Al Sharpton go there, be an activist, stand with the parents, and he asks people to contribute money, and he went to the Justice Department with the parents of Trayvon Martin. And then he does his [MSNBC] show, and then he speaks at the rally again. He's covering himself," Kurtz said. "How can MSNBC allow that?"
MSNBC, for its part, would seem to have planned for this kind of role for Sharpton from the start of his career there.
"We are breaking the mold,” president Phil Griffin told the New York Times in September. “Anything he does on the streets, he can talk about on air — we won’t hide anything.”
Sharpton has also said that combining the show and his activism is an integral part of his hosting duties.