Ed Driscoll

Sharpton's Cat

I’ve speculated a few times that Al Sharpton is basically paid by MSNBC as protection money to prevent him from blowing up another NBC employee, as he did to Don Imus in 2007. In retrospect, I should have expanded my scope to include Comcast as well. “Sharpton paid to keep quiet about lack of black TV programming: suit,” the New York Post reports:

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s silence was bought for a cool $3.8 million — so that he wouldn’t complain about the lack of black cable TV programming, an explosive $20 billion lawsuit alleges.

The National Association of African-American Owned Media claims Comcast paid Sharpton and his National Action Network “cash ‘donations’ ” in exchange for not screaming about its lack of solely black-owned channels.

The cable giant also assured that the activist would keep his $750,000-a-year gig as a host on MSNBC, which it co-owns, even as his ratings slump, the suit alleges.

“The black community has been sold out by him,” comedian Byron Allen, a co-plaintiff and owner of Entertainment Studios, told The Post on Monday.

“Al Sharpton should be ashamed of himself for defending Comcast for a simple chicken-dinner payoff.”

The Daily Caller also interviewed Allen, an NBC alumnus himself. “AT&T, which is looking to acquire DirectTV for $67 billion including assumption of debt, also pays off Sharpton for racial cover, Allen said:”

“I find it outstanding that AT&T is the biggest sponsor of Sharpton’s 60th birthday party,” Allen said. “AT&T spent more money on Al Sharpton’s birthday party than they have on 100 percent African-American owned media combined. [Sharpton] should return the money because AT&T doesn’t even celebrate Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday. The employees there take it as a sick day.”

“Reverend Jesse Jackson, you were on the balcony when Martin Luther King was assassinated. Why are you taking money from AT&T? Why is Al Sharpton getting more money from AT&T than Ebony Magazine, which has been around for 70 years?”

“[Corporations] trick people like, ‘I got the diversity award.’ Well, diversity is defined as women and white women.”

“My wife happens to be white and I ask her who is the white guy who speaks for all white people? You can’t even think that. That idea is racist. That’s wrong. So why do I have some black guy who speaks for me? Why is he cutting deals that somehow I don’t benefit from but somehow he’s on television every night?”

Sharpton’s power, including his informal adviser role at the White House, is just part of the game.

“I think that Obama uses him to control the Negroes,” Allen said of Sharpton.

Sharpton’s response to all of this boils down to, what, me worry?

There have been some rumors this week that Al Sharpton is losing his MSNBC show as part of an ongoing schedule shake-up. Well, Sharpton has officially shot down those rumors and said he isn’t going anywhere.

Sharpton told The Daily Beast, “I am pretty certain that I am solid at the time period that I’m at for the next foreseeable future. And any rumors to the contrary are totally unfounded.”

And an MSNBC spokesperson corroborated Sharpton, saying, “There are no plans to move Rev. Sharpton’s show.”

Which becomes the television equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat: if a TV show effectively has no viewers, how do we know if it’s still on the air?