[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]
60 Minutes ran a piece on Al Sharpton last night, apparently trying to help him rehabilitate his reputation since President Obama is making Sharpton a point person on immigration reform.
Here’s a fascinating interview about Al Sharpton and the 60 Minutes interview from the very left Democracy Now!
You can read the transcript here. What I want to highlight here is how CBS creates a dishonest narrative about Rev. Sharpton by omitting his recent history – history that is well documented.
CBS does this with a very obvious form of misdirection, telling the views over and over again throughout the piece that Sharpton is a changed man who controversy is 15,20 or 30 years ago.
Here’s how they start the segment.
Say "Al Sharpton" and most people probably think loud mouth activist and provocateur. That certainly was his image in the 1980s and 90s.
Well, the Reverend Al has gone through something of a metamorphosis: today he’s down right tame. So much so, that he has made his way into the establishment.
Which may say something about the establishment – but I digress.
It’s been quite a trajectory: from street-protest agitator, to candidate for president in 2004, to now a trusted White House adviser who has become the president’s go-to black leader campaigning around the country for President Obama and his agenda.
Today, Sharpton looks and sounds like a totally different person.
But 20 years ago in New York, Sharpton, hot-headed in his jogging suits and larger than life in every way, was spreading hate and dividing the city. "No justice, no peace!" he shouted at one protest.
So, so far the story makes the point – over and over – that Sharpton’s provocateur days of ‘spreading hate and dividing the city’ were back in the 1980s and 90s. That was ’20 years ago’. Bam! Bam! Has CBS smacked you on the head enough?
Apparently not. 60 Minutes reinforces this idea that Sharpton’s controversy is 20 years behind him at several other points…
"I think that America and Al Sharpton has transformed. I think it’s a different country and I think that therefore I’ve become a different person in that context," Sharpton told correspondent Lesley Stahl.
Sharpton says 15, 20 years ago he would’ve been looking for a fight with a guy like Gingrich. In those days, he was brawling all over the place, even on television.
He made his mark as a civil rights leader in New York in the 1980s by leading angry marches. They led to change, but one nearly caused a race riot.
He told us that he used to think about getting in the newspapers. Now older, more comfortable with himself, he’s thinking about history.
Observe how biased journalism works. CBS makes the point over and over and over about Sharpton’s controversial “past.” Not once do they bring up any of the protests from the last ten years.
I’m not a real Sharpton watcher but it didn’t take any effort at all to find the following examples of Sharpton’s recent past. The following clips are from Sharpton’s entry on Wikipedia.
In 2001, Sharpton was jailed for 90 days on trespassing charges while protesting against U.S. military target practice exercises in Puerto Rico near a United States Navy bombing site.Sharpton, held in a Puerto Rican lockup for two days and then imprisoned at Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn on May 25, 2001,
Sean Bell Protests
On May 7, 2008, Sharpton led a series of protests in New York City. Hundreds took to the streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn as part of the citywide "slowdown" effort led by Sharpton and his National Action Network. The crowd made its way to the streets stopping the flow of traffic in many vital areas of the city. This led to police action, and the arrest of over 200 people, including Sharpton himself. Sharpton was arrested without incident at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.
On March 11, 2007, Sharpton held a press conference to highlight what he said was unequal treatment of four suspected rapists in a high-profile crime in the Dunbar Village Housing Projects in West Palm Beach, Florida. The suspects, who were young black men, were arrested for allegedly raping and beating a black Haitian woman at gunpoint. The crime also involved forcing the woman to perform oral sex on her 12-year-old son.
And that Wikipedia Article doesn’t mention Sharpton’s role in the 2007 / 2008 Jena 6 case.
60 Minutes did a devastating piece on Lance Armstrong last night, too – a detailed piece of journalism that will probably prove to be the end of Armstrong’s career.
To follow that up with such a clear piece of slanted journalism on Al Sharpton, friend of the Obama administration is telling.
PS — I’d never heard of Dunbar Village before but the details of the case are so offensive that Al Sharpton and the NAACP defending the rapists is really beyond the pale.
Here’s Feminist Cara Kulwicki writing about it…and I suggest you read the link and wonder why 60 Minutes didn’t bring this up.
Do you remember the Dunbar Village rape case? I’m not sure how you could forget; this is the case where a woman was gang raped by 10 men in her own home for over three hours, forced to have sex with her own 12-year-old son and survived an attempt to light both of them on fire. In an update that is a couple of weeks old but I’m just hearing from now via Document the Silence,Al Sharpton and the NAACP are taking to the streets to defend the four arrested rapists. This is despite conclusive DNA evidence and apparent photographic evidence that the rapists took on their cell phones during the attack.
– Lee Stranahan