O'REILLY SELLS OUT TO SHARPTON
By Cliff Kincaid
Al Sharpton, labeled a “public liar and racial arsonist” in a devastating piece by John Perazzo on Frontpagemag.com, has an enabler named Bill O’Reilly. Watchers of “The Factor” may be interested to know that O’Reilly is paying homage to Sharpton at the civil rights agitator’s upcoming national convention. Indeed, O’Reilly himself is an honored guest.
I knew something was suspicious when I was watching O’Reilly interview Sharpton on Wednesday night. I was very disappointed that O’Reilly, who can be aggressive with some guests, did not bring up Sharpton’s conviction for lying in the Tawana Brawley defamation case. But then I watched a replay of the interview and noticed a brief exchange in which Sharpton mentioned how O’Reilly had been invited to his upcoming National Action Network Convention. I had missed this exchange when I watched it live because both of them were almost talking over one another, congratulating themselves for being concerned about the influence of rap music. It was then that I heard O’Reilly mutter that he would be attending the event, sponsored by Sharpton.
I soon discovered that O’Reilly, the most popular host on the “conservative” Fox News Channel, is listed in the official program, along with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, as a “special guest” at the “Keeper of the Dream VIP Reception” that is by “invitation only.” The honoree at the O’Reilly event is George Gresham, a labor union official.
The convention line-up reads like a “who’s who” of the national Democratic Party, which is not a surprise since Sharpton himself is a Democrat who ran for president. Senator Hillary Clinton will be speaking at a luncheon and Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean will be participating in a roundtable discussion on race relations.
As Perazzo makes clear, the idea that Sharpton is committed to improving race relations is worse than the joke that Imus told about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Discussing the Brawley case, in which Sharpton was convicted of defaming a former prosecutor by accusing him of raping a black woman, he writes, “In comparison to what Sharpton did, Don Imus’ recent transgression seems rather minor, doesn’t it? And unlike Imus, Sharpton has never—in twenty years—had the courage or the decency to acknowledge what he did and to apologize for it. Never.” After examining other outrageous claims and actions by Sharpton, Perazzo concludes, “If Imus deserves to be fired, clearly, so does Sharpton.”
But not only is Sharpton not “fired” in the sense of being banned from the public dialogue about race, prominent media figures are falling all over themselves trying to honor Sharpton at his national convention. This makes their hand-wringing over Imus a textbook case of utter hypocrisy.
In addition to his documented record of racial agitation, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) points out that Sharpton’s presidential campaign was found guilty of campaign finance improprieties in response to NLPC complaints. One resulted in a $5,500 fine. The other resulted in Sharpton having to pay back $100,000 in federal matching funds received for his presidential race.
It turns out that O’Reilly isn’t the only media figure selling out to Sharpton. The actual “Keepers of the Dream Awards Dinner” is supposed to feature Soledad O’Brien of CNN.
But that’s not all. Incredibly, Sharpton’s convention includes a media panel on the subject of “Does the Media Fairly Cover People and Issues of Color?” The featured panelists are Mike Wallace, veteran correspondent of CBS’s 60 Minutes; Brian Williams, NBC Evening News; Martin Bashir, ABC’s Nightline; Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country; Rita Cosby, Emmy award-winning TV host; Paula Zahn, CNN’s Paula Zahn NOW; Dominic Carter, NY1’s Inside City Hall; George Curry, the nationally syndicated columnist and head of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; and Austin Fenner, journalist for the New York Daily News.
Do you think any of these media personalities will have the guts to hold Sharpton accountable for his record? They would not be showing up at the event if they did.
On Friday night, the convention advertises a “Live Debate with Fox News Channel,” featuring Sharpton and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity on race in America in the 21st century.
How does one explain our media’s blatant hypocrisy in relation to Imus and Sharpton? The answer, quite simply, is fear. They are scared of what Sharpton and his tag-team partner, Jesse Jackson, can do to them. So they cultivate the civil rights agitators in the hope that they will be spared their wrath. After all, they don’t want to suffer the Imus fate.
It may be too late. Media Matters, the George Soros-funded group that began the get-Imus campaign, has already targeted O’Reilly as another one of the alleged bigots on the air. Other announced targets include radio hosts Neal Boortz and Michael Savage.
In this context, O’Reilly’s attendance at the Sharpton conference can be seen as an effort to preempt the anticipated campaign against him. Perhaps O’Reilly intends to plead for forgiveness and absolution in advance at the knee of the “Reverend.”
© 2007 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights
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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.
Media Matters, the George Soros-funded group that began the get-Imus campaign, has already targeted O’Reilly as another one of the alleged bigots on the air. Other announced targets include radio hosts Neal Boortz and Michael Savage.