By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org
Q: Al Sharpton is a…
a) talk show host
b) civil rights activist
c) racial grievance-monger
d) all of the above
Wrong. It was a trick question.
There is no such thing as a racial-grievance monger. At least that’s what David Brock, president of the Media Matters sleaze factory, said Thursday.
The person Brock was talking to just happened to be the world’s most famous living stoker of racial resentments: Al Sharpton.
This would be the Al Sharpton who perpetrated the Tawana Brawley hoax, falsely accusing an assistant district attorney as one of Brawley’s attackers. The Sharpton who reportedly told an associate it was unimportant that Brawley’s claims sounded fake, because “you’ve got whites on blacks. That’s an easy way to stir up all the deprived people, who would want to believe and who would believe — and all (you’ve) got to do is convince them — that all white people are bad.”
The Al Sharpton who stoked the flames during the anti-Jewish race riots in Crown Heights in 1991.
The Al Sharpton whose “boycott” of Freddy’s Fashion Mart ended in the massacre of seven employees there.
You know the Al Sharpton.
Yet here’s Brock, mid-diatribe against Fox News, on Sharpton’s MSNBC show:
“The president invited us to a meaningful dialogue, and unfortunately, with folks like Bill O’Reilly, who is a bigot, who accuses folks who they disagree with as being part of a racial industry. Frankly, the only industry based on race that I know about is this toxic talk radio.”
Regrettably, the camera wasn’t on Sharpton at the time, so there’s no record of him stifling a smile.
The triple salchow of hypocrisy is classic Brock: the call for substance instead of insults, immediately followed by an insult, followed by a mischaracterization of an opponent as guilty of mischaracterization, followed by the bald denial of a plain truth.
As Chazz Michael Michaels said of another fancy skating routine: “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative.”
The display was more polished than Brock’s other remark on the show, which was just wrong in every particular, but not ironically so.
Here’s the quote:
“At Fox News, the fish rots from the head. So back in 1968, you had Roger Ailes, who’s now the Fox News chief, using the N-word prepping Richard Nixon for a public appearance. This was part of the Southern Strategy at the time, to attract Democrats into the Republican Party by stoking racial hate and prejudice. Then in 1988, you had Roger Ailes’ fingerprints all over the Willie Horton attack on Michael Dukakis.”
First, a fish does not rot from the head. Despite Old World proverbs of the sort – Il pesce comincia a puzzare dalla testa, etc. – it’s not literally true, a Smithsonian Institution fish expert told William Safire back when Michael Dukakis used the phrase.
”There is no biological evidence to support the proverb,” he said. “Everything would decompose at about the same rate, though probably the stomach — or any injured part of the fish that led to its death — would start to smell first.”
Second, Ailes’ use of the ‘N-word’ was in the context of imagining a question from an audience member at a town hall meeting.
Third, Kevin Phillips‘ famous book, “The Emerging Republican Majority” wasn’t even published until 1969. The Southern Strategy was important in Nixon’s first term, particularly in his rhetoric on busing, as he worked to keep George Wallace out of the 1972 race. But Wallace ran in 1968, and swept most of the South.
Fourth, Brock’s use of “fingerprints” to blame Ailes for the Willie Horton ad is telling, as the famous ad was produced by a political action committee, not the campaign committee run by Ailes, not that the Horton ads were anything to be ashamed of.
There is a similarity between the Willie Horton ads and the Trayvon Martin case: the American people rejected the portentous interpretations of the bien pensant media.
In both cases, the media got hysterical over what the case said about race in America. And in both cases, large swathes of the country figured it said nothing much.
Trayvon Martin’s death was awful, but there’s no point in pretending it’s something that happens all the time. And Horton was a murderer who shouldn’t have been paroled by that rotten fish head of a governor, and it’s not racist to say so.
Contact Jon Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jpcassidy000.