Last night’s MSNBC Racism Town Hall had an interesting selection of hosts, including, alongside Chris Hayes and Joy Ann Reid, Al Sharpton. Since the network was presumably aiming to condemn racism, perhaps it should have examined its own hosts first.
Sharpton’s history of incendiary language is certainly worth recalling.
—In 1987, Sharpton helped push the racially-charged Tawana Brawley rape hoax, in which the 15-year-old black girl fabricated claims that she was raped repeatedly by six white men. Sharpton had to pay $65,000 in damages to prosecutor Steven Pagones, one of the men accused of rape, for defamation.
—In his eulogy for Gavin Cato, a seven-year-old boy killed during the Crown Heights riots of 1991, Sharpton referred to the surrounding Jewish community as “diamond merchants” with the “blood of innocent babies” on their hands — a bigoted attack he refused to apologize for.
—Sharpton contributed rhetoric that incited the fire-bombing at Freddie’s Fashion Mart in Harlem in 1995, which destroyed the Jewish-owned store and killed eight. Sharpton, who had called owner of the business Fred Harari a “white interloper,” denied responsibility for the incident.
—In June 2015, when NBC cut ties with Donald Trump for making comments the network deemed racially offensive, the brass did not apply the same standard to Sharpton and his notoriously anti-Semitic comments. Despite continuously low ratings, Sharpton’s show continued to air until September 2015.
Additionally, as CNN analyst James Gagliano pointed out on Twitter Tuesday night, Joy Reid has also shared a handful of politically incorrect comments, in the form of old blog posts for which she later apologized.
Clearly, the issue is not really about whether or not someone is a racist, but whether or not that person will cater to the current political agenda.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article referred to a lawsuit that alleged Al Sharpton was paid to ignore racial discrimination. That suit was dismissed.
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