The controversial Rev. Al Sharpton, who has injected himself into a myriad of political contests and campaigns over the years, is no longer permitted to make political endorsements now that he is a host for MSNBC.
However, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Wednesday, Sharpton said he wasn't aware of any MSNBC rules preventing him from endorsing candidates. "I cannot write checks, but I can make endorsements if I choose," he explained, and rather incorrectly.
As a rule, NBC network "prohibits employees from campaigning for candidates without prior consent from management."
Based on his statement, Sharpton is apparently not aware of this seemingly important fact. Or is he?
When told Sharpton believed he was free to endorse political candidates — and only prohibited from making monetary contributions — NBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski clarified, "I can let you know that Rev. Sharpton is aware of the policy and has agreed to adhere accordingly."
"Rev. Sharpton will be adhering to NBC News policies now that he's an MSNBC host. NBC News prohibits employees from campaigning for candidates without prior consent from management," she said.
Sharpton, whether feigning ignorance or not, is already endorsing President Obama's re-election bid, according to the WSJ.
"The fact that is important to me is: The whole world's attention will be on the national [presidential] race next year and I'll be on TV every night," Sharpton said.
"I have been very supportive of the president, and that has happened pre-MSNBC, and I'll be on the television dealing with how I feel about the policies."
Indeed, while Sharpton may not be able to officially endorse political candidates, he will likely be equally if not more effective espousing the virtues of his chosen causes and candidates nightly, in a televised forum reaching millions of American viewers.
And Sharpton clearly knows it, boasting to reporters that they only need "look at the TV at 6 o'clock every night" to see how far he has come in gaining a captive audience.
Sharpton, who told WSJ he is "not ruling out" getting involved in the 2013 mayoral or other citywide races, added, "Where I go after the presidential race, we'll see...We'll cross that bridge after we see what happens in November, 2012."
Sharpton, who ran for president in 2004 and founded the National Action Network -- a civil-rights organization -- also told WSJ, "I have purposely tried to focus more national, and not done New York stuff—people just don't understand that."
"I called [my group] National Action Network. I never called it New York Action Network. That's where I wanted to be."
According to WSJ Sharpton plans to continue his work at NAN during his tenure with MSNBC, stating the two missions are similar.
"To be honest with you, a lot of what MSNBC does is considered on the left—it's issues that NAN does. I mean, what does NAN do? Police brutality, racial profiling, legal rights, educating. It's parallel," Sharpton told WSJ in conclusion.
Will a life-long activist like Sharpton really stay out of the business of endorsing political candidates, or will he disregard network rules, thinking himself impervious to disciplinary action? While NBC executives may share many of Sharpton's political views, it did not stop the network from suspending Joe Scarborough or suspending, then later firing Keith Olbermann after the two were discovered to have made political contributions.