The New York Times's weekly “Sunday Routine” feature is billed as “Prominent New Yorkers recount their weekend rituals.” This Sunday it featured Al Sharpton being interviewed by David Halbfinger. Halbfinger’s introduction gave no hint of why Sharpton is considered by non-Times readers as a controversial figure.
Unmistakable and formidable, if a physically reduced version of the man he once was, the Rev. Al Sharpton, 56, uses Sundays as his “half-down day.” It’s a workday, for sure -- including two hourlong radio broadcasts -- but it also offers chances for decompression, companionship, exercise, sending texts and posting on Twitter. A Brooklyn native, Mr. Sharpton lives in a two-bedroom apartment in the West 70s in Manhattan.
That bias by omission permeates the paper’s historical coverage of Sharpton, which has consistently labeled him a “civil rights advocate,” while ignoring his (literally) racially incendiary past: the racially charged Tawana Brawley rape hoax; his ranting against “diamond merchants” (Jews) in 1991; the Harlem protest against what he called a “white interloper," during which a fellow protester burst into the store, shot four employees and set the store on fire, where seven died.
When Deborah Solomon interviewed Sharpton for a Sunday magazine Q & A in July 2004, not only did she ignore Sharpton's history, she even invited him to criticize Bill Cosby for being racist:
I wonder how you feel about Bill Cosby's recent comment that too many African-Americans speak ungrammatical English and fail to rear their children properly. Does that strike you as racist?
Solomon had been far more hostile to conservative icon William F. Buckley the week before, asking;
You have made so many offensive comments over the years. Do you regret any of them?
You seem indifferent to suffering. Have you ever suffered yourself?