Rethinking Al Sharpton…

Tony Norman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes about rethinking Al Sharpton…

My references to Rev. Al over the years have ranged from disparaging to contemptuous. Long before the Crown Heights riot, the Freddie’s Fashion Mart fiasco or the 1998 Million Youth March in Harlem in which he shared the stage with the diabolical Khalid Abdul Muhammad minutes before that late demagogue exhorted the crowd to attack the cops, I’d written off Rev. Al as someone who was beyond redemption.

I mocked his senatorial and presidential bids while using his name as shorthand for the least imaginative brand of race hustling. Even though he’d undergone a remarkable metamorphosis over the years, my depictions didn’t keep pace. Until very recently, Rev. Al was always somewhat suspect in this column.

When MSNBC unveiled “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton” last year, it looked like the worst kind of pandering to lure black viewers. I cringed when he mangled the names of his guests or appeared incapable of reading a script in a teleprompter without stumbling. As formidable a debater as he’d proven himself as a guest, he was not a seasoned enough journalist to host his own show or conduct a decent interview. Every day at 6 p.m. was destined to be amateur hour on MSNBC until the powers-that-be got around to quietly replacing Rev. Al with a “real” journalist.

Then a funny thing happened. I never got around to writing that scathing review. Suddenly, Rev. Al began pronouncing his guests’ names correctly and his interviews got better. Although he still isn’t as polished a teleprompter reader as his colleagues, “Politics Nation” is among the boldest and most interesting shows on MSNBC.

Rev. Al isn’t afraid of raising his voice or mixing it up. He’s also a surprisingly nimble debater when he clashes with conservative Joe Scarborough on those mornings when no one else will take him on. What makes him a rarity is his consistency in voicing unflagging support for the poor and the powerless. He’s not a limousine liberal like I suspect many of the progressives are on that network. Rev. Al hasn’t stopped marching just because he has a program on MSNBC.

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22 Responses to “Rethinking Al Sharpton…”

  1. Sharpton has never expressed any remorse for the awful things he’s done. It may be easy for Tony Norman to write off the massacre at Freddie’s, but New Yorkers of a certain age remember how Sharpton instigated the murders of innocent people — in the name of racial hatred.

    All he’s done is put a slick and smooth veneer over his bigotry. He’s still the same awful creep.

  2. But he make a mighty fine PIE!

  3. This article makes the same point I made here about Sharpton, few days ago; that maybe hiring Al wasn’t the terrible idea I and many others thought at the time. His on-air performance has improved steadily and he his off air activities have been bringing mostly positive reviews by non partisan sources. It’s still early but his progress so far is impressive.

  4. Your operative words there are “it’s still early” which is why I’m not prepared to reverse myself on Sharpton at this time.

  5. He falsely accused several white men of raping Tawana Brawley. He never apologized. He still sticks to that story. His words and actions may have led to the deaths at Freddy’s Mart. Name one white person with that history who would have gotten his own show.
    And while I think he is doing the right thing re Trayvon Martin in Florida, why does he ignore stories about black-on-black violence? There 49 people shot in Chicago last weekend. 49 PEOPLE!! 10 died, including a little girl. Where is Sharpton? Where is the media? Where is President Obama’s statement about his hometown?

  6. “why does he ignore stories about black-on-black violence?”

    Not every murder is covered by the media. It needs to have a hook that will capture the imagination of the public. In this case a Hispanic wannabe cop shooting a black kid is not the reason this story has struck a chord with the public. In fact it was not news at all until someone sent the story to Al a week after the shooting and he decided to make it a cause celeb.

    The thing that caught peoples attention was not the murder itself but rather the fact the police let the perpetrator go; with his loaded gun and without even a cursory investigation; on nothing more than his word that it was self defense. It defied common sense and people of all political stripes were outraged.

    When the 911 calls became public and Zimmerman’s tale was proved false the media had it’s hook; and when the police and city officials then blew the cover up it created a perfect storm for cable news.

    Without the 911 tapes and the ham handed actions of police and city officials this would most likely be still be yet another obscure murder in a small Florida city.

  7. “Not every murder is covered by the media. It needs to have a hook that will capture the imagination of the public.” – fritz

    So 49 shootings in ONE weekend with 10 fatalities, including a young child, is not enough of a hook? In a city closely associated with our president?

  8. “So 49 shootings in ONE weekend with 10 fatalities, including a young child, is not enough of a hook? In a city closely associated with our president?”

    ^^Apparently not. Maybe FNC will cover the story but I doubt it unless they we done by known Democrats.

    Murders by gangs in Chicago are pretty common and old news. I remember they were a big news story a few years ago and there was a big push in Washington to deal with them. It was when the Obama administration was pushing their new education agenda. If memory serves the hook then was a young child being killed in the crossfire. Much outrage at the time and promises that things would change. I guess they haven’t.

  9. ” In a city closely associated with our president?””

    ^^Not relevant at all. If it was then Jeb Bush would be responsible for the shooting in Florida because he sighed the ‘Stand Your Ground Law’. It’s a really silly comment.

  10. Or what about the case of 13-year-old Allen Coon, a white student in Kansas City, MO, who had the temerity to raise his hand to answer a question from his black teacher during Black History Month only to be told by his teacher, Ms. Dorsey, “What do you know about it? You’re not our race!” Allen was subjected to racial taunts, was jumped in the boys’ room, and was thrown into lockers. Another black teacher, Ms. Kindler, called him “Casper,” and encouraged black students to do the same. It culminated at the beginning of this month with several black students from Allen’s school following him home and setting him on fire on his own front porch. Thank God, he was not badly burned, but his mother removed him from the school. Bet not many people heard about this story. Is this enough of a “hook” for the media’s imagination, fritz?

  11. “It’s a really silly comment.” – fritz

    Jeb Bush isn’t the president. And he may well have to comment on the Stand Your Ground Law that I believe he signed. President Obama commented on the Martin case. Why not on the St. Patty’s Day massacre in his own backyard?

  12. “Apparently not. Maybe FNC will cover the story but I doubt it unless they we done by known Democrats.” – fritz

    O’Reilly has already done a segment on the story.

  13. Carol ;it’s called change the subject. When your on defense and you have no case you attack your opposition. That’s what Billo and you are doing. It’s lame but when you have nothing relevant to add about the subject at hand it’s what you can do. What’s happening in Chicago, Kansas City or Lima Peru is irrelevant to the Florida case unless a ‘Stand your Ground’ law was abused.

    Nice try though.

  14. “Nice try though.” – fritz

    Well, gee, thanks.
    I have a problem with the way this story is being covered and the others are not being covered at all. Do you really think that if young Mr. Martin were killed by Zimmerman in a state without the Stand Your Ground law, it would NOT be covered to the hilt like it is now? Of course it would be. Because any story where a black male is killed by anyone other than another black male is a big story for the media and for people like Sharpton.

  15. Come on Carol get real. There are hundreds of murders in the US every year by all races and on all races. This is not a story about race it’s a story about police incompetence. The crime wasn’t a story until the 911 tapes were released and their incompetence was revealed, It was the lack of a proper police investigation and their reasons for not investigating that made it a national story with legs not the crime itself.

  16. BTW, fritz, Billo was not changing the subject. He did several stories on the Trayvon Martin case and he has no sympathy for Mr. Zimmerman. In fact, I have not heard any defense of Zimmerman from anyone at FNC.

  17. “I have not heard any defense of Zimmerman from anyone at FNC.”

    ^^There is no defense for Zimmerman as yet. Until we hear his side of the story the only story we have is the one told on the tapes. The debate up until now is about the police actions not the shooting.

    I don’t know what Billo said about the Chicago murders but I assume it’s the same change the subject line you proffered.

    Murder is so commonplace in most urban areas you need a side story (serial killing, mass murder, terrorist attack, missing blonde women, mother killing her kids, rich victim or killer etc.etc.etc.) to make it news worthy on a national basis. The Chicago killings have no compelling angle other than there are a lot of them. You can say that about most big US cities.

  18. “I have not heard any defense of Zimmerman from anyone at FNC.”

    No, Hannity just posited that a man stalking blacks with a handgun, ignoring police orders to stand down, and chasing a running Trayvon Martin, got involved in a “trajic accident”. Uh huh.

  19. Or he could just be presuming innocence. and considering another possibility. Maybe it’s not the best thing in the world for every personality of TV to present a case that presumes guilt.

  20. Fritz the Kat and Joe have already settled the issue of guilt. The only issue is impatience to dish out the punishment.

    Rethinking Sharpton…

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx….

    patience, we are almost done…

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx…

    yep, still an ahole!

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