Uygur on his potential replacement: Sharpton’s pledge to not criticize Obama worth noting

Was MSNBC’s decision not to make former 6 p.m. host Cenk Uygur’s role at the network permanent a product of the cable outlet’s desire to protect President Barack Obama at all costs? On Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Uygur suggested that was certainly a possibility.

Host Howard Kurtz asked Uygur if he had any evidence that the White House was pressuring MSNBC on his potential successor: Sharpton’s pledge to not criticize President Obama is worth noting. Uygur admitted he didn’t, but pointed to a May 2011 interview in which the Reverend Al Sharpton, Uygur’s likely replacement at MSNBC, encouraged people not to criticize Obama.

“[I] didn’t say that,” Uygur said. “I said people in Washington had a concern with my tone, which is what [MSNBC President] Phil Griffin told me. I didn’t say that he said that it was the White House. Now, you know, who is ‘the people in Washington’? I think that’s a really great question; [it] probably needs some more investigation.

“You know, a friend of mine just suggested that I watch the ‘60 minutes’ piece from a couple of months ago about Al Sharpton. And I found that to be very curious because ['60 Minutes' correspondent] Leslie Stahl said there — and here I have the quote for you: ‘Sharpton says he’s decided not to criticize the president about anything.’ So the guy who was criticizing the president is out, even though he had really good ratings, and the guy who has decided not to criticize the president about anything is in. That’s interesting.”

In a statement, MSNBC disputed Uygur’s claim that outside influences impacted the network’s decision to let him go. Uygur takes issue with MSNBC’s position.