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Tim Russert Abandons Don Imus: Leads the Cowardly Suits at NBC

Apr 12, 2007

It has come as a surprise to many people to learn that racial provocateurs Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who have been in the forefront of criticizing Don Imus, have their own radio programs. But here’s an interesting twist: Jesse Jackson’s radio program is syndicated around the country in over 40 markets by Premier Radio Networks, which brings Rush Limbaugh to hundreds of radio stations. Premier, which also serves as the authorized advertising sales representative for the Sharpton radio show, is a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, often criticized by the “progressive” left for being too conservative.

Tim Russert Abandons Don Imus: Leads the Cowardly Suits at NBC

Tim Russert Abandons Don Imus: Leads the Cowardly Suits at NBC

Consider the irony. Jackson, a prominent member of the “media reform” movement that wants to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, frequently complains about “progressives” not getting enough access to the media. But his show is part of the Big Media!

If you are starting to get the idea that the get-Imus campaign is really designed to get Jackson and Sharpton more face time in the media (perhaps more stations for their own radio programs or even national television programs of their own), then you are catching on. It is a clever campaign initiated by Media Matters, the George Soros-funded group that boasts that it was the first to “post” Imus’ racist comments on its own website. It is apparent that the group fed the information to the “civil rights” community.

Sharpton and Jackson pounced on it. According to the Jackson radio program website, Sharpton has been a guest on Jackson’s show. But Sharpton has had his own share of provocative programs. The Sharpton radio program website says that he was granted special access to an interview that was conducted with O.J. Simpson by James T and Joy Ann on Syndication One’s Miami affliate radio station WTPS. Syndication One, a joint venture of Radio One and Tom Joyner’s REACH Media, brings the Sharpton radio show into 21 media markets. Excerpts of the Simpson interview, in which he (once again) proclaimed his innocence, were aired on Sharpton’s radio show.

Consider the situation. Sharpton airs excerpts of an interview with someone widely believed to have killed his wife and her friend (Simpson was acquitted in a criminal trial but a civil court held him accountable for the murders). But that’s not controversial. Yet, when a shock jock makes racist and sexist comment about a college basketball team, Sharpton helps provoke a national firestorm and Imus is fired from MSNBC.

Imus’s first mistake was going on the Sharpton show without exposing the “Reverend” as the convicted liar he is. The other problem is that Imus was working for wimps at GE and NBC News who decided to feed him to the wolves. Tim Russert, the Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News, has been a frequent guest on the Imus program. But he was an invisible man during the recent controversy. He basically abandoned his friend of many years. Instead, the job of defending Imus was delegated to David Gregory, Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, who did a bad job.

On MSNBC-TV on April 10, Gregory meekly tried to bring up Sharpton’s involvement in the Tawana Brawley hoax, in which a black woman falsely charged a group of white men with rape. In the case, the jury found Sharpton guilty of making seven defamatory statements about Steven Pagones, a former prosecutor. Incredibly, Sharpton defended his conduct, saying he was making accusations against an individual, not a group, and that he still does not apologize for his involvement in the case. So Sharpton, in a case that is much more serious than that involving Imus, wouldn’t even go as far as Imus in apologizing for his statements and actions.

Here’s an edited transcript:

Gregory: But, in your case, as critics would point out, you didn’t go as far as Imus in a controversy that had to do with you and the Tawana Brawley case, a woman who the court...

Sharpton: Nor did I castigate a whole race of people.

Gregory: …You didn’t go as far as apologizing to the people who you hurt through that incident. This was, the courts have concluded, a hoax, accusations against whites by a young black woman about a race-based assault. A court ordered you to pay restitution for a defamation suit against people’s whose reputation you hurt. You didn’t apologize for that.

Sharpton: And I still don’t apologize. This was a case, as you said, of a young lady accusing people of doing something to her. To compare that to a man castigating a whole race—nobody came to him, like this young lady came to me. He was not talking about did he believe in a case…This man [Imus] was talking about a race of people and a sex of people. There is absolutely no comparison. And, when the courts ruled against us, we paid that. That case happened 20 years ago. We’re not talking about that.

Later, Sharpton added that “If I believed that young lady was telling the truth, as I do, what am I apologizing for? And how do you compare that to a man condemning a whole race? Did I go and condemn a whole race of people? Or did we say we believed this young lady’s statement about an individual? I don’t how you even compare the two.”

At that point, the mild-mannered David Gregory let the matter pass.

Let’s understand what’s being said. Sharpton admits, in effect, that he was convicted of defamation in the Brawley case for making what the court found were false accusations. But Sharpton still believes the falsehoods! And this is the guy that Media Matters and the rest of the “media reform” movement want to police the public airwaves.

Not all liberals and left-wingers are happy about this. A posting on the “My Left Wing” website by someone named “nonpartisan” called Sharpton’s prominent role in the movement to fire Imus “the most hypocritical action ever from our side.” Nonpartisan commented:

“Here’s a question for the moralists among us. Two guys, two ridiculously offensive statements. Guy One compares black female basketball players to ‘nappy-headed hoes’; Guy Two was convicted of defaming an assistant district attorney by claiming publicly and repeatedly (and falsely) that the man had raped a fifteen-year-old black girl.

“Which statement is the most offensive?

“Hard choice, isn’t it? Now what if I told you that Guy One is a shock jock by trade, whose job is to offend the sensibilities of his listeners (not, of course, to the extent that he did, but to a certain level), and that Guy Two is a respected community leader who has run for President? Now which one is the most offensive?

“Now what if I told you that Guy One has apologized loudly and repeatedly for his comments, while Guy Two has repeatedly refused to apologize even after he was convicted of defamation in civil court? Does that change anything in your view?”

The “My Left Wing” website went on to bemoan the elevation of Guy Two, the “odious” Al Sharpton, to the position of “the new Democratic obscenity cop.” He added, “If an unspeakable human being like Sharpton can take Don Imus to task on offensiveness, the inmates are apparently running the asylum.”

I thought that GE, the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC, would stick with Imus. I thought that his corporate connections to the top brass would save his job. I didn’t think they could be so intimidated by the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

The “C” in NBC apparently stands for coward. Tim Russert in particular ought to be ashamed of himself for not standing by his long-time friend.

Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media

 


 

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