Al Sharpton Organization: Tax Delinquent?
“Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills,” claims the piece. Even with his tax liabilities, notes the story, Sharpton “traveled first class and collected a sizable salary.”
Though he anchors “Politics Nation” on MSNBC on weeknights, Sharpton is a target of far greater resonance than a cable news host. The longtime rabble-rousing Brooklyn preacher and civil rights activist has become a player of national import under the Obama administration. As explained in an August piece in Politico Magazine by Glenn Thrush, Sharpton had transformed himself into the Obama administration’s “go-to man on race.” After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August, Sharpton established himself as the “de facto contact and conduit for a jittery White House seeking to negotiate a middle ground between meddling and disengagement.”
All of which makes him a large and fair target for a newspaper investigation.
And then we get to the (relevant to this blog) part of the Wemple’s article…
MSNBC has all but invited this embarrassment. As the Erik Wemple Blog has reported, Sharpton negotiated his contract with MSNBC under the stipulation that his work as an activist would continue. In remarks in D.C. last year, Sharpton recalled what he told MSNBC President Phil Griffin about his status: “I said, well, I’m still going to run NAN, I’m still going to be an activist.” Griffin responded positively. “He said, ‘Put it in the contract. We’d never interfere with what you’re doing, your civil rights work,’” Sharpton quoted Griffin as saying.
On one level, Sharpton’s various hats carry implications for the ethics of his work at MSNBC. Being an anchor on a news network while also serving as a big shot at the White House and the head of a civil rights group creates a jumble of undiagrammable — and almost unknowable — conflicts of interest.
Yet the other level of concern is precisely what the Times has exposed: Sharpton Inc. is a sprawling concern, clearly more than one overbooked man can handle. By employing Sharpton as a prominent figure in its news rotation, MSNBC must own the failings of his empire. A spokeswoman for MSNBC says the network has no comment on the situation.
Well now we have two cable news networks with increasingly radioactive hosts; CNN with Fareed Zakaria and MSNBC with Al Sharpton. Some will say Sharpton already was radioactive and there is truth in that. However most of Sharpton’s prior baggage has been of the divisive ideological kind…a type of radioactivity that MSNBC was inoculated against because it was craving the demographic Sharpton catered to. But tax troubles and fiscal administration issues are a different kind of radioactivity which crosses ideological boundaries relatively intact.