The new, improved Reverend Al Sharpton has been establishing a Washington, D.C. presence ever since President Obama took office nearly four years ago. But apparently, the New York City-based minister, politician and media personality hasn't evolved from his attitude about the need to pay bills on time. Last week the Washington Post reported that Sharpton's nonprofit vehicle, National Action Network (NAN), is seven months behind on its rent for downtown Washington building space it sublets from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, or COMTO. The overall debt now exceeds $28,000. His top aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, insists NAN has made good on all past due balances. Yet given Sharpton's history of leaving creditors out in the cold, COMTO would do well to be skeptical.
Whatever else might be said of Reverend Al Sharpton, when he throws a party, he does it in style. The 14th annual conference of his New York-based nonprofit National Action Network (NAN) last month in Washington, D.C. during April 11-14 was no exception. Once more, corporations and to a lesser extent unions paid most of the tab for a well-choreographed event that featured dozens of speakers and panelists eager to affirm the aggressive black identity politics of their host. The plenary address by Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a panel on legal issues, amounted to a group manifesto for the arrest of George Zimmerman for the highly-publicized killing - evidence points toward self-defense - of a black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, to the delight of virtually all attendees, was arrested that day on a state second-degree murder charge.
This past weekend saw further escalation of nationwide demonstrations over the fatal February 26 shooting of a black Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white neighborhood watch volunteer. Though in apparent self-defense, many are demanding the shooter, George Zimmerman, be arrested. In lieu of such action, some are vowing to apply their brand of street justice. Unfortunately, they have an ally in President Obama.
Al Sharpton's newest role - full-time anchorman - is now a reality. The New York City-based black activist, preacher and former presidential candidate launched his MSNBC-TV talk show, "PoliticsNation," on Monday, August 29, six days after the network tapped him for the 6-7 P.M. (EST) weeknight slot vacated in July by Cenk Uygur. The announcement wasn't unexpected. Sharpton frequently had substituted for Uygur. And MSNBC's parent company, Comcast Corp., for years has been a generous donor to Sharpton's nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN). The elevation of Sharpton, with a long history of demagoguery and financial chicanery, to top-tier media player, for now, is complete. The question is whether "the Rev" is more than a novelty - and whether his hiring represents another case of corporate surrender to a larger political culture.
"Al Sharpton, anchorman" - the phrase has an undeniably odd ring. Yet on MSNBC it's already a part-time reality. And his close relationship to MSNBC's parent, Comcast Corp., may enable him to become full-time permanent host of the cable network's 6 P.M. news slot. If Sharpton gets promoted - the announcement could come any day - it would be the ultimate coup in his ongoing campaign to obtain respectability to cover a long history of racial incitement.
Today we are asking Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to repudiate Al Sharpton. Gingrich appeared around the country in late 2009 as part of something called the Education Equality Project. At that time, we asked Gingrich to sever ties with Sharpton, only to be ignored.
Now that Gingrich has gone from private citizen to candidate, he must be made accountable for his associations. As Dr. Carl Horowitz of our staff has documented in our 2009 Special Report titled Mainstreaming Demagoguery: Al Sharpton's Rise to Respectability, Sharpton has promoted fake hate crimes against blacks, and has inspired racial antagonism against whites and Jews.
I am tempted to say that President Obama rushing up to New York City to embrace Al Sharpton during the opening days of his campaign is evidence of a weakness in his re-election prospects. But it is much worse than that.
Barack Obama is failing to demonstrate leadership on racial issues, and leadership in general, by paying such homage to Sharpton. I thought the whole point of electing a black president was to allow the nation to rise above everything that Sharpton represents.
By any reasonable standard, Reverend Al Sharpton is the most powerful black civil-rights leader in New York City, if not the entire nation. So why are the finances of his nearly two-decade-old nonprofit organization, National Action Network (NAN), in such apparent shambles? A number of people, including the IRS, a prominent New York accounting firm and the management of Memphis' finest hotel, would like to know. Ironically, the group's troubles, highlighted in a recent investigative report appearing in the New York Post, have occurred despite an infusion of more than $100,000 from a philanthropy driven by one of America's richest men. One dreads to think what the federal deficit would look like today had Sharpton been elected president in 2004.
The transformation of Reverend Al Sharpton from street provocateur to civil rights eminence ranks as one of the more remarkable image makeovers in American public life. And mainstream journalism has played a central role. Anyone doubting as much should read the recent (August 2) cover story of Newsweek magazine, "The Reinvention of the Reverend." Written by Allison Samuels and Jerry Adler, the article is a fawning and misleading portrait of the Harlem-based preacher/politician. The piece doesn't quite beatify Sharpton. But it does make a highly selective use of information, some of it factually wrong, in stating the case for "the Rev," as he is commonly known, as a moral conscience of the nation. It also stands as an example, as if any more were needed, that "diversity" in the newsroom isn't about a diversity of opinion.
Submitted by NLPC Staff on Sat, 05/08/2010 - 10:33
Yesterday, Dr. Carl Horowitz of the NLPC staff spoke at the Colgate-Palmolive annual meeting in New York City in support of our resolution asking the company to disclose its charitable contributions. In the past year, Colgate had both ballyhooed and denied that it supports Sharpton’s group, the National Action Network (NAN).