Cornel West recently called MSNBC’s Al Sharpton “the bonafide house negro of the Barack Obama plantation” in connection with media coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. A cheap shot but funny, and it’s hard to argue with West’s main contention — that most media commentators, including Sharpton, voiced nothing but platitudes about the historic speech and didn’t seriously speculate on what MLK might have said about the status quo in contemporary America.
West, the gap-toothed provocateur with the French-style cuffs and old-style Afro, thinks MLK would have found many of Obama’s policies only marginally less repugnant than those of the yahoo who preceded him as president. He figures MLK would have spoken out against bank bailouts, drone bombs, trade agreements that destroy American jobs, and perhaps against Obama’s attempts to portray himself as working to build on MLK’s efforts to help create a more equitable society.
One thing’s for sure — Democrats who aren’t progressive wish West would just go away. I mean Dems like Obama, who congratulates himself for stands he never took (remember how he ignored labor unions under attack by Wisconsin’s reactionary governor?) and is routinely patted on the back by so-called liberals who won’t admit that Obama, although not nearly as loathsome as the high-profile Republicans, has been a major disappointment to progressives of all races.
Footnote: If Sharpton is a house negro, then what should we call MSNBC’s other talking heads — Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Melissa Harris-Perry, Chris Hayes and the insufferable Lawrence O’Donnell? I guess “Obamabots” will have to do, although that’s a bit unfair to Maddow. The problem with MSNBC is that support for Obama is intrinsic to its brand, at least for now. Who knows where the network’s unprincipled president, Phil Griffin, will steer it if its ratings continue to plummet?
One more: MSNBC became totally predictable after Keith Olbermann quit, or was fired. He was the only host who seemed a true progressive, eager to shine a light on all the bad guys, not just on the usual suspects.