Cenk Uygur--the progressive online talk show host whose brief tenure as an MSNBC anchor ended on Wednesday--tore into the network in a lengthy monologue on Wednesday night, saying he had turned down a smaller role on MSNBC because he had been told he was too combative towards "those in power."
Uygur had been the 6 PM host of the network since January. But that role came to an end on Wednesday, as the network announced that he would not be continuing. Now, every indication is that Al Sharpton will become the new 6 PM host. Sharpton has been guest hosting in the slot for the past few weeks, and his numbers have apparently improved on Uygur's.
Speaking on his "Young Turks" show, Uygur said that, though the ratings for his show had been satisfying MSNBC executives, his "tone" had not. According to his version of events, his departure from the network was the culmination of a protracted struggle with MSNBC management who wanted him to be more buttoned down.
Uygur said that, in April, MSNBC president Phil Griffin called him in for a talk. Griffin allegedly told him that "people in Washington" were concerned with his tone on the show.
"'Outsiders are cool, but we're the establishment,'" Griffin said, according to Uygur, who said he was also told to book more Republicans on the show. He claimed to have been stunned by the conversation, and said he ignored Griffin's advice.
Though his ratings increased, Uygur said that, a couple of weeks ago, he was informed that he would not be getting the permanent slot at 6 PM, but was instead offered a smaller contributor role for twice the salary. He said he turned it down because, in his words, he did not want to work at a place "that didn't want to challenge power."
For his part, Griffin denied that anyone had ever tried to censor Uygur or control the content of his show. He told the New York Times on Wednesday that he had offered Uygur a weekend show, and that the "people in Washington" he had referred to were not people in the government, but MSNBC producers who said Uygur's feisty attitude was making it hard for them to book guests. (Uygur is sticking by his version of events.)
During a press conference on Thursday, Uygur said that Current TV has "reached out" to him about a potential role on the network, but that there have been no formal discussions yet. He will be a guest on Keith Olbermann's Thursday show.