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by Yvette Carnell
Over the past few days, former MSNBC host and current online host of the “The Young Turks”, Cenk Uygur, has made his rounds on both television and the net discussing how he was summarily dismissed from his prime time slot at MSNBC. According to Uygur, his style of not treating members of Congress with enough deference and being too brash when criticizing The White House landed him in the hot seat.
On Sunday’s episode of “Reliable Sources”, host Howard Kurtz unwittingly added validity to Uygur’s depiction and account of the events withKurtz’ insistence that Uygur answer whether or not anybody at MSNBC asked Uygur to“moderate” his“political positions”.
Uygur has consistently paraphrased the head of MSNBC as saying, “we’d love to be outsiders, outsiders are cool, but we’re the establishment and you have to act like it.” Uygur never said he had a smoking gun since there never is a smoking gun or an explicit quote in situations where this type of pressure is applied. It’s always a wink and a nod, an order disguised as a suggestion or creative criticism.
So it pays to examine why Kurtz would ask a question that had already been answered when he could’ve just as well taken the opportunity to engage in a bit of real investigative journalism. He could’ve delved deeper into several questions that were central to the story; like who MSNBC’s chief was referring to when he said that people in Washington D.C. thought Uygur’s style was too rough? What was their proximity to power? And more specifically, what segments or aspects of Uygur’s reporting did they take issue with and why?
But instead of broadening the story and thoroughly chronicling the bad acts of all the influencers in this drama, including those who happily use media pundits as their proxy , Kurtz made this story solely about Uygur. It’s much easier to cast innuendo on one man than to cast aspersions on an entire system. Kurtz proved that.
Broadly speaking, the bigger issue at play here, though, is whether America still has an independent media. Narrowly speaking, the question is whether MSNBC will replace Uygur with a strong voice who is willing to take the Obama administration to task in much the same way that Uygur did. If MSNBC is being straightforward when it strongly asserts that it didn’t remove Uygur from the six o’clock slot for substance, but instead for style, then we should expect to see a Uygur-esque replacement in the coming days right? Far from it.