Tag Archives: Al Sharpton

Libs have blowhards, too

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I recently called Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson a right-wing “blowhard,” which drew rebukes from my friends who believe he is right and others of us are mistaken about the state of affairs.

It all got me to ponder something. Do I aim my “blowhard” epithet only at right wingers and if so, am I being fair to them? I want to lay down a predicate, which is that we all are fueled by our own bias. So, when I toss out an epithet such as “blowhard,” or “gasbag” I usually am talking about righties with whom I disagree.

As I scan the political commentary landscape, I find far fewer such left-leaning targets. However, the field isn’t devoid of left wing blowhards.

In the interest of fairness, I want to offer you this example: The Rev. Al Sharpton. 

I am no fan of Sharpton. He runs the National Action Network. He has become a “civil rights leader” of some repute and renown. Sharpton shows up at protest marches to extol the virtues of Black Lives Matter. He delivers eulogies to victims of police brutality. He speaks on behalf of what I consider to be noble causes.

However, every time I see the Rev. Sharpton, I cannot erase one incident from my memory: Tawana Brawley. Do you remember her?

In the late 1980s Brawley accused white New York City police officers of brutalizing her, of raping her, of dehumanizing her. She is an African-American. At that time, up stepped Al Sharpton to raise holy hell on her behalf. He and others accused the cops of behaving in a disgraceful, despicable manner.

It turns out that Tawana Brawley made it all up. The cops sued Brawley and others, including Sharpton, for slander and defamation. They won their case!

Has the reverend ever apologized for taking part in that monumental charade? Nope. Not a word. Instead, he parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a role he has embraced as a “civil rights leader.”

This has not a thing to do with the causes for which he speaks. I happen to endorse most of Sharpton’s platform. If only, though, he hadn’t emerged from such a scandalous event — in which he was on the wrong side of a contentious dispute — to bask in the celebrity status he enjoys today.

So, there you have it. I have just declared that lefties have blowhards, too.

Partisan preacher quits his party

(RNS1-MAY02) Evangelist Franklin Graham preaches during a recent crusade in Mobile, Ala. See RNS-GRAHAM-QANDA, transmitted May 2, 2006. Religion News Service photo by John David Mercer/The Press-Register in Mobile, Ala.

The Rev. Franklin Graham has given up on the Republican Party.

He quit, citing Congress’s refusal to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood. So, Graham — son of the legendary preacher the Rev. Billy Graham — has had enough of the GOP.

I thought immediately of a bumper sticker I once saw on a car here in Amarillo. I am paraphrasing, but it said, “God is bigger than a bumper sticker.”

Indeed …

Graham isn’t the first high-profile preacher to become involved in partisan politics. Another Republican, Mike Huckabee, is a former Baptist preacher seeking the Republican presidential nomination; Democrats Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom are ordained Christian clergymen, also have run for the highest office in the land.

Still, I find it intriguing to hear that Franklin Graham is quitting the Republican Party because of an intensely emotional issue. That would be abortion.

Perhaps, though, he ought to know that the Hyde Amendment — named after the late Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde — prohibits the federal government from dedicating public money for abortion and that Planned Parenthood’s mission goes far beyond providing abortion referrals for women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

And, yes, God truly is far bigger than a bumper sticker.

Or a political party.

Sharpton charged with racial discrimination? Oh, my!

Who in this world ever saw this one coming?

Al Sharpton, the rabble-rouser turned civil rights activist has been accused of discriminating against black-owned companies. Sharpton has earned much criticism over many years for a variety of issues, but this one caught me by surprise.


A lawsuit alleges that Comcast and Time Warner discriminated against black-owned companies and then paid Sharpton and other civil rights activists significant sums of money to “whitewash” the practices of the media giants. The suit also names the NAACP in its complaint. I cannot even catch my breath after reading this.

Sharpton’s fiercest critics have leveled “race-baiter” charges against him. Indeed, the head of the National Action Network burst onto the national stage by alleging some New York City police officers brutalized a young African-American woman, Tawana Brawley. He leveled despicable allegations against several officers — naming them publicly — in defense of Brawley.

Well, it turned out young Tawana made it up. She wasn’t sodomized, as she had contended. The officers sued Sharpton for defamation of character — and won! Sharpton to this day has not apologized for his role in this terrible story. But he managed to shed the infamy he earned from that event and has become a civil rights icon of sorts. He shows up everywhere, taking up for those who have been victimized by those who commit acts of racial discrimination. Now we have this matter with which Sharpton must contend.

According to the Washington Post: “The lawsuit, seeking $20 billion, was filed in Los Angeles federal court Friday by Entertainment Studios, a television company founded by black producer and comedian Byron Allen and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM). The complaint, which comes as regulators mull a $45-billion merger between Comcast and TWC, alleges that Comcast has refused to do business with Allen and other black media executives.” Sharpton, of course, denies the allegation.

His MSNBC “Politics Nation” talk show, which he has hosted since 2011, already has been suffering from poor ratings. Whether he remains on the air is up to the network, of course.

But back to my original question: Who saw this one coming? Not me. Something deep down there is telling me Sharpton’s TV career is on the ropes.

Rev. Huckabee joins growing GOP field

It’s official, or practically so.

Mike Huckabee is going to run for president of the United States in 2016. He quit his Fox News Channel talk show amid signs he is getting set to make his decision.


He’s a former Arkansas governor. He’s glib and funny. He’s also a staunch conservative.

Let me re-introduce an element that is likely to play a role in a Huckabee presidential campaign. He’s an ordained Southern Baptist preacher.

Why is that important? Many Americans are going to look to someone such as Huckabee strictly because of his well-known, firmly established and say-it-loud Christian faith. They’ll rally to his side for that reason chiefly — if not exclusively.

It certainly isn’t a disqualifier. Heck, I’m a practicing Christian myself. All of our presidents have shared the basic tenets of my faith. I’ve never voted for a president on that basis.

Indeed, the Democratic Party has had its share of clergy running for president. Rev. Jesse Jackson ran twice in the 1980s, as did Rev. Al Sharpton in 2008.

However, the Constitution states clearly that there should be no religious test for anyone seeking any public office. I have taken that to mean that I, as a voter, need not consider a candidate’s religious faith as a reason to vote for him or her. I choose not to go there.

Huckabee’s fellow Republicans are getting ready for him. Rand Paul is attacking Huckabee’s tax policy while he was Arkansas governor, just as he has targeted Jeb Bush’s “moderation” while he served as governor of Florida.

The GOP field is expanding. Huckabee could be one of the more interesting candidates running. Look for him to play to his party’s evangelical base. Hey, with a Baptist ordination in his hip pocket, he’s got something none of the other GOP hopefuls can claim.


Sharpton owes how much to the IRS?

The New York Times — one of the conservative movement’s favorite targets — has done something that left-leaning activists might not have imagined.

The paper has reported on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s back tax bill, which according to the Times amounts to more than $4 million.

Four million bucks!

Wow! Let this one sink in for a moment.


Sharpton is a noted MSNBC commentator. He also has become known as a civil-rights activist and a founder of the National Action Network, an organization dedicated to seeking justice on behalf of disadvantaged Americans.

Sharpton is an outspoken progressive firebrand who — and this is where the irony kicks in — regularly rails against wealthy tax cheats or those who use their wealth and standing to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Now comes this report that Sharpton himself has a serious issue with the Internal Revenue Service.

Sharpton has fought back. He says he has paid down the bill, that he doesn’t owe as much as the NYT says he does.

Let’s wait for this thing to play out.

My advice for MSNBC, though, would be to take Sharpton off the air while this matter gets sorted out. Any time he speaks out against wealthy tax cheats is going to produce nothing but laughter across the land.


What a difference two generations make

Al Sharpton’s TV show is rumbling in the background in my home office.

Then he introduced an upcoming segment about ensuring how to find jobs for “our troops.”

Something curious occurs to me. Sharpton is a noted progressive/liberal. I’ve spoken already to the way America has changed its attitude toward veterans and military personnel during the past two generations.

Given that I don’t know Sharpton, nor can I read his mind or peer into his soul, I’ll ask the question with some caution: Would this particular progressive talk-show host have this discussion during the Vietnam War, when many Americans were (a) turning their backs on returning veterans or (b) spitting in their faces?

He would say that he never did those things back in the old days. A lot of liberals did, however.

They’ve changed. I hear many liberal and progressive commentators on the air say much the same thing that Sharpton said today. They want to honor our veterans and those who are fighting for our freedom.

I’m glad the country has changed its attitude. I also am happy to hear progressives talk about jobs programs for veterans, calling on Americans to honor them by employing them when they return from the battlefield.

It wasn’t always this way.


Where's the fairness?

Good journalism — be it print or broadcast — relies on relatively few basic tenets.

Accuracy is one. Thoroughness is another. So is fairness.

And fairness requires that you seek out both sides of a dispute, such as one that recently erupted in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, shut down a hearing as the ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, sought to pose a question of Lois Lerner, an Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy that some folks want to turn into a full-blown scandal.

The IRS has been criticized for its vetting of conservative political action groups seeking tax-exempt status. What the right-wingers don’t acknowledge, of course, is that the IRS does the same thing to liberal groups.

Back to journalism’s fairness tenet.

The Rev. Al Sharpton — a liberal MSBNC talk show host — interviewed Cummings the other day to get his side of the story. One liberal would “interview” another liberal.

Meanwhile, Issa was making the rounds on the Fox News Channel to give his version of events. Conservatives were “interviewing” a conservative.


My strong preference would be for Cummings to talk to the Fox guys and Issa to talk to the MSNBC guys. Let the liberal news/commentary network get the other side’s version of a controversy and have the conservative network get the liberal’s version of events.

That’s one way to define — if I can borrow a phrase — a “fair and balanced” approach to journalism.

Talking heads becoming the story

This is a big part of what I find distasteful about cable TV news: The talking heads have a habit of becoming part of the narrative they’re supposed to be covering.

The latest example is a feud that’s apparently brewing between lefty Al Sharpton and righty Bill O’Reilly. Sharpton is one of the hosts of MSBNC’s talk-show lineup; O’Reilly hosts his show on Fox.


Allow me this brief commentary on both men.

Sharpton came to be known to many Americans when he ran interference for a young African-American woman, Tawana Brawley, who contended some white New York City police officers raped and beat her. Sharpton became Brawley’s voice in a heated exchange with the New York Police Department. He demanded justice for this poor girl and raised the volume to a fever pitch. One big problem emerged: Brawley’s story was fake. The cops ended up suing Brawley and Sharpton for slander and they won. Now, all these years later, Sharpton has lost a lot of weight, cleaned up his TV image and is known as a “leading civil rights activist.”

In my mind, he’s a charlatan.

O’Reilly has been a fixture at Fox for many years. He’s had other broadcast network gigs. He’s a simpleton, who makes simplistic arguments to cover complex issues. He fancies himself as an “independent,” but he’s nothing of the kind. He’s a card-carrying conservative who, when interviewing subjects on his show, delights in out-shouting them. He interrupts at will. O’Reilly even treated President Obama rudely while interviewing him during the 2012 presidential campaign; he’d ask a question and refuse to wait for an answer before butting in while the commander in chief of the most powerful military establishment in the history of the world was trying to answer.

O’Reilly is a gasbag.

Now these two clowns are fighting in public. They both see themselves as bigger than any story they cover for their respective networks. They disserve the craft they purport to practice when they engage in these televised tit-for-tats with each other.

I don’t care one damn bit what these guys think of each other. I care only what they say about the issues. Stick to your talking points, gents. If you want to insult each other, pick up the phone and do so in private.