The Reverend Al Sharpton, anchorman, preacher, politician and shakedown artist extraordinaire, has led what can be viewed as a charmed life. A lengthy expose published yesterday on The Smoking Gun website (see pdf) provides some insight as to why. Starting in 1983, the New York-based civil rights activist, who 20 years later would run for president, allegedly worked for several years as an FBI informant so as to avoid prosecution for his own wrongdoing. In return for helping the feds root out organized crime from the entertainment industry, Sharpton has operated with near immunity. "The Rev" denies he worked as an informant, adding that the report simply rehashes "old news."
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., like his late father, Robert F. Kennedy, long has had a reputation for bluntness. And though a partisan of the Democratic Party Left, he can be as unsparing in his assessment of his allies as he is of anyone else. Just how unsparing was brought home yesterday in the New York Post in an article that summarized several of the younger Kennedy's entries in a diary back in 2001. Obtained by veteran Post reporters Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, the diary underscores many things National Legal and Policy Center has been saying for years, particularly about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. See my Special Report titled Mainstreaming Demagoguery: Al Sharpton’s Rise to Respectability. Kennedy had written that the two civil rights leaders "give me the creeps."
The acquittal by a six-member Florida jury on July 13 in the trial of George Zimmerman for second-degree murder, with an option to convict for manslaughter, at least among rational people, produced relief and apprehension - relief because Zimmerman wouldn't be headed to state prison; apprehension because the verdict likely would be a prelude to a federal probe. The latter is now underway. Attorney General Eric Holder, with the tacit approval of President Obama, has launched a campaign to delegitimize and overturn the verdict on the belief that Zimmerman, a mixed-race Hispanic and a Neighborhood Watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., wantonly shot a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, to death, and with racial intent.
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.