Al Sharpton on Monday said that he's going to be meeting with representatives of the FCC next week about revoking conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh's license.
On a special 9PM edition of the "Ed Show," the Reverend didn't mince words (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Rev. Al Sharpton is taking on Rush Limbaugh. He’s had enough of Limbaugh using the public air waves to go on and on his blatant racist tirades like this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This is a civil rights bill. This is reparations, whatever you want to call it. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state.
The objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return it to the nation’s, quote, "rightful owners." Think reparations. Think forced repatriations. Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That kind of racially charged hate speech is spilling over into the Congress. Here’s Republican Congressman out of Iowa, Steve King, taking a cue from the drugster his reparations attack on the Black Farmers Bill just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): The fraudulent claims might be, well, Johnny - yes he was raised on a farm but he wouldn’t help his dad. He went off to the city and became a drug addict. And when his daddy needed the help, Johnny wouldn’t help his daddy.
But now, his daddy has died and Johnny wants the $50,000 that comes from the USDA under this claim. We’ve got to stand up at some point and say, we are not going to pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Wow. Wouldn't it have been nice to actually explain to the audience what King and Limbaugh were referring to so that viewers would know the context of the remarks Schultz and Sharpton found so offensive? Or is that too much like journalism for the folks at MSNBC?
SCHULTZ: Reverend Sharpton made news on this program last month when he told me that he wants the FCC to step in on Limbaugh. He joins me now on more on this and where that fight stands. Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network.
Reverend, I know you were down in Washington last week working on this. What’s the latest?
REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: We have a series of meetings going on. And we’re going to see the FCC next week. We’re not going to stand by and allow publicly-regulated radio and television just go for marketing and promoting this kind of racism.
Here’s a man who calls the president names, plays a record, calling him the good negro that has the former majority whip or soon-to-be former majority whip Jim Clyburn as driving Ms. Nancy, trying to play off "Driving Miss Daisy."
Rush Limbaugh has the right to see whatever he wants to say. He doesn’t have the right to do it though on publicly-regulated air waves.
The FCC has the responsibility to set standards to say the public cannot be offended based on their race or their gender in this country. And you federally regulated air waves that they give licenses to, that are very competitive and the FCC is very selective based on standards.
SCHULTZ: So how would you monitor racist-type talk on these radio stations that are publicly licensed by the FCC? How would do you this? They come back and say it’s freedom of speech.
SHARPTON: Very clearly. They should do is establish what is the guidelines where you go over the top. And clearly, I think that Rush Limbaugh’s statements would be over the top.
You can’t say, in the name of free speech, you can say anything you want, when you are not allowed to do anything else you want on radio stations and television stations. So we can’t have standards everywhere when it comes to race. We’re not talking about stopping free speech.
We’re talking about if FCC is very cautious and deliberate in who they give licenses to, who they let stations even get waivers to expand their empires. They can clearly say that part of it has to be that you’re not taking part of the public and playing off against one another, and we give you a license to do it.
So we’re not telling Rush don’t say what he wants to say. Say it at home. Don’t get on publicly-regulated radio and television that are selectively given licenses and do that to offend people because of their race or their gender.
SCHULTZ: Now, reverend, how serious are you about this?
SHARPTON: I’m very serious.
SCHULTZ: It’s the national action network. Are there any other organizations that may work in conjunction with you on this?
SHARPTON: We’re talking to all the civil rights groups. And next week, when we get into Washington, they will announce for themselves. But let me tell you something. People said to us that we were not serious and we would not be successful and many of us went after NFL to stop Limbaugh from becoming a part owner.
We won that and that was the private sector. I think the public sector has to be at least as accountable as the NFL and private owners were.
SCHULTZ: Holland Cooke, radio consultant, writes recently that Limbaugh’s label is too big to fail. You don’t think so?
SHARPTON: I don’t think he was too big to fail. He thought he was too big for the NFL. Imus thought he was too big. I think the bigger they are, the harder they fall when people get together and say, wait a minute. This is something that we should not tolerate the public discourse in this country.
Imagine the struggle the black farmers went through and Native American farmers, and a member of Congress stands there and tries to equate them to drug dealers. When do we step back off the curb and start having some decent dialogue.
Whether we do it now or not, the government ought to not give licenses for this kind of indecency.
SCHULTZ: Reverend, I think that racism is empowered on the House floor in this country and the Senate floor because of all the right-wing talkers out there, give them all kinds of backup they need.
SCHULTZ: Reverend, good to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
So here's what Schultz and Sharpton didn't disclose to viewers (h/t Gateway Pundit).
At issue is Pigford v. Glickman, a class action lawsuit against the USDA alleging racial discrimination in allocating farm loans and assistance between 1983 and 1997. A settlement was reached in which the U.S. government agreed to pay black farmers $50,000 each if it was proved they had sought USDA financial assistance and were wrongly denied.
A total of roughly $1 billion had been paid or credited in what was called "Pigford I." The Obama administration recently expanded the awards, and Democrats are trying to give out another $1.2 billion. The problem is that more than 92,000 blacks have signed up to receive such awards despite there being roughly one-fifth as many total black farmers in the country during the period in question.
As Fox News's "Special Report" explained on August 24:
BRET BAIER, HOST: Some big money and some disputed math are at the center of a case involving racial injustice, racial politics, the Agriculture Department and one congressman charge's fraud. White House correspondent Wendell Goler reports the decade-old case provides interesting background to a present day situation, involving a government employee who recently lost her job and was offered it back.
WENDELL GOLER, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As she declined the agriculture secretary's full-time job offer, Shirley Sherrod made clear she'll remain an advocate for black farmers.
SHIRLEY SHERROD, FMR AGRICULTURE DEPT OFFICIAL: We do need to work on the issues of discrimination and racism in this country.
GOLER: For Sherrod and Secretary Tom Vilsack as well, part of that will mean the government paying a second round of claims in a landmark Agricultural Department discrimination case.
TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: We both feel it's appropriate and necessary for the Senate to take action as quickly as possible to make sure that the appropriations for those cases are made.
GOLER: The claims stem from North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford's class action lawsuit in 1997 which argued black farmers were denied Agricultural Department loans and their racial discrimination complaints ignored after the Reagan administration dismantled the Agriculture Department's Office of Civil Rights in 1983. Clinton administration Ag Secretary Dan Glickman agreed to a billion dollar settlement in 1999, which paid 16,000 farmers, but the Obama administration reopened the case last year amid claims as many as 80,000 black farmers had been left out. Iowa Congressman Steve King says that's several times as many black-owned farms as there are in this country.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA (via telephone): So, it comes altogether about 92,000 people claimed they were discriminated against by the USDA, and when we only had 18,000 black farmers, the highest number we can produce going far back to the '70s is about 27,000 black farmers.
GOLER: But advocates for black farmers believe most of the missing farmers lost their farms, like Shirley Sherrod and her husband whose 12 family cooperative succumbed to Georgia drought in 1985 after the Agriculture Department denied them a loan to build an irrigation system. In 2009, an arbitrator reward the Sherrod's cooperative a $12 million settlement, the largest of the Pigford claims. And Congressman King wants an investigation.
KING: We can do, if we end up with the gavels in our hand after November, congressional hearings and subpoena witnesses and I know the names of a good number of them that should be subpoenaed.
GOLER: But if King doesn't believe black farmers suffered widespread discrimination, it appears most lawmakers disagree with him. The House has passed a second round of Pigford claims. It's stuck in the Senate, not over payments to the black farmers but over concerns about compensation for discrimination against native Americans -- Bret.
BAIER: More on this topic with the panel tonight. Wendell, thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's fair to say that we both feel it's appropriate and necessary for the Senate to take action as quickly as possible to make sure that the appropriation for those cases are made and that we get the cases settled as quickly as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it comes to altogether about 92,000 people who claim they were discriminated against by the USDA, and when we only had 18,000 black farmers. The highest number we can produce to go back to the '70s is about 27,000 black farmers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: This is all about claims of a North Carolina farmer, Timothy Pigford's class action lawsuit in 1997. That is what they are talking about. Black farmers he alleged were denied agriculture loans and the racial discrimination ignored by the Agriculture Department.
Here are the payments so far, according to authorities. Pigford one, which is the first settlement, a little more than $1 billion. Now the Obama administration reopened the case last year and if authorized by Congress, we're talking another $1.25 billion.
The number of claims, the first settlement turned out about 16,000 claims were approved, but 7,000 of them were thrown out. Pigford two, we are talking about 73,800 petitions, claims put in. The number of black farmers according to the census in 2007 had 32,000, and a release by the National Black Farmers Association puts the number at 18,000 for the entire country in 2007.
What about all of this? We're back with the panel. Juan, it seems like a big story about this settlement.
JUAN WILLIAMS: I think it is an interesting story. It's an interesting in this way that if you said simply here are the number of black farmers in the country, 27,000 at max, during the '70s and '80s, and you look at the number of claims you say this is far disparate. So how is it possible?
I think it's possible in several ways. Steve King has done an interesting job saying he located most of the payments went to people in the cities, not in the rural areas of the south where most of the farms are previously located and where there are claims of discrimination.
Obviously you could have eras, people who left the farming -- there was a great black migration in '30s and '40s or people going to big cities in the north. So people who have been impacted may not be farmers any longer.
But this is an interesting moment in that he is way out of line with most of the colleagues in the Congress who don't agree with him. The Congress has passed this, the Senate is waiting on this. So it's not over contention too much feeding at the trough by people who are not eligible but something about Native Americans and payment to them.
BAIER: In 2009, an arbiter, Jonah, awarded the Sherrods, Shirley Sherrod and her husband Charles, the largest settlement, $12 million for a cooperative farm that they were representing and had. What about all of this in the big picture?
JONAH GOLDBERG: The really big picture here is first of all, I think this stinks to high heaven. It has more to do with sort of the Clinton era Justice Department and the Clinton appointed judge setting off essentially what amounts to a plaintiff bar racket.
The idea that somehow 500 percent of all the black farmers, whoever existed in the 1980s, were all discriminated against, right, and the supposition here is that not just a few black farmers, which I'm sure were discriminated against, but all of them and then multiply it times five were discriminated against. It just doesn't pass the smell test.
Moreover, we have people in America getting billions of dollars, white people getting billions of dollars who don't farm either. The entire Department of Agriculture is a scam and scandal.
BAIER: King says he will investigate if they get the gavel.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I think he should, because the disparity of these numbers would be explicable if it had discrimination in the pre-civil rights era and you have heirs which would increase the number. But this is discrimination between '81 and '96.
BAIER: According to the settlement.
KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. So it makes it odd that you have 90,000 claimants when you have this small number of farmers.
But I would add that you get this kind of abuse in a lot of class action suits you get it and asbestos, and Mesothelioma where you have the doctors producing fake x-rays and lawyers who have gone to jail. So it isn't as if this is a racial issue. The class action system opens itself to an enormous corruption.
BAIER: Something tells me we will talk about this again. We've got to run.
A little different when you know more of the facts, isn't it?
Of course, it's not at all surprising Schultz and Sharpton avoided the details of this matter as it's far easier to further your agenda with half-truths.
As a humorous aside, the folks at the liberal website Mediaite view Sharpton as trying to "regulate" Limbaugh. I guess that's left-wing code for "drive off the air as soon as possible using any means at your disposal including distortion and factual misrepresentation."