Breaking News from 1987

"Al Sharpton Is a Huge Fraud," shouts...Vice.com?

Sharpton’s tardiness in denouncing police militarization is perhaps partly explainable by the fact that, per his own reckoning, he literally operates as a proxy for the Feds—namely the Obama administration. CBS's 60 Minutes reported on this posture as such: “He's decided not to criticize the president about anything, even black unemployment that's twice the national rate.” Since acquiring his own MSNBC show, Sharpton—a former FBI informant, it was revealed in April—has regularly glommed onto highly charged controversies (such as the killing of Trayvon Martin) by presenting himself as a sort of de facto emissary between the White House and the “community” he purports to represent.

Sharpton postures as a fearless critic of state violence, but one can’t simultaneously be an honest broker about what’s going on in Ferguson—the federal government at Obama’s direction is complicit in extreme terror, escalation, and civil liberties infringements—while simultaneously affirming that the chief executive of the federal government ought to be off limits for scrutiny.

“Sharpton has a long and well-documented history of leveraging his civil rights profile for his own benefit,” journalist Wayne Barrett, who chronicled his travails for 37 years at the Village Voice, wrote on the sordid occasion of Sharpton’s 2011 ascension to the 6 PM MSNBC time slot, replacing Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Uygur had garnered excellent ratings in the preceding months, so the removal seemed somewhat puzzling—until Uygur revealed that network executives summoned him to a cartoonishly melodramatic closed-door meeting in which they issued a threat: Think twice before saying anything that might upset certain unnamed “people in Washington.” Uygur didn’t do that, and not long thereafter, he was replaced by Sharpton, a reliable peddler of pro-administration talking points.

Gee fellas, what took you so long to notice?

(Incidentally, who at NBC isn't a reliable peddler of pro-administration talking points?)

Update: "MSNBC Continues Ratings Slide Despite Sharpton, Ferguson." As James Taranto quips, responding to Newsmax's headline, “Fox Butterfield, Is That You?”