Al Sharpton said Thursday he spoke to the Federal Communications Commission about holding public hearings next year that Rush Limbaugh would be forced to attend to explain so-called "racist" statements he's made on the air.
Chatting with MSNBC's Ed Schultz, Sharpton said he had a "very good meeting on Tuesday" with FCC officials and that "some of the commissioners" were interested enough in following up on his concerns that this could come to fruition in the coming months (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: And finally tonight, Rush Limbaugh has a long history of using his radio platform to make racist comments. Today, Reverend Al Sharpton met with the Federal Communications Commission and asked them to take a stand on Limbaugh. Reverend Sharpton joins us tonight here on the Ed Show. How'd the meeting go, Reverend?
REV. AL SHARPTON: I had a very good meeting on Tuesday, and I think, Ed, that where we will go in the beginning of the year is the push for public hearings. We had a very fruitful meeting that they could not infringe upon free speech, but they can talk about standards, and can have open public hearings where radio owners and personalities, and certainly we would want Mr. Limbaugh to be one of them, would have to come in front of the FCC and answer direct questions on direct statements and how they may be offensive based on gender and race so that the FCC can then shape policy based on the results of those public hearings. So we're going to press the National Action Network to have those public hearings where the owners of these stations and people like Rush will have to explain in public before a public hearing of the FCC on exactly what the standards ought to be and explain their statements. Me, you, and everyone. I think that this kind of accountability would protect free speech but protect people from this kind of racism.
SCHULTZ: Is this what you wanted, Reverend?
SHARPTON: I wanted them to make an affirmative stand, but if we've got to go into the public hearings to see if they can do that, I think that that would be a very, very good thing for the American public to see these people have to do this.
SCHULTZ: Did you get a sense the FCC is serious about what you're saying to them?
SHARPTON: I think that some of the commissioners are, and all you need is some to have the entire commission to sit there and have to deal with this in public accountability. We're talking about public airwaves.
SCHULTZ: So this means that Limbaugh would have to step up or maybe one of his representatives or the people that carry his show and explain that it's okay to say racist things on the air.
SHARPTON: And explain why some of these statements are not racist, which I would, I would love to see them have to explain that.
SCHULTZ: It's going to be an interesting year. Reverend, good to have you with us tonight.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: Thanks so much.
As NewsBusters readers are well aware, Schultz and Sharpton have been on this crusade against Limbaugh for quite some time despite both of them consistently misinterpreting satire for racism.
Let's hope the folks at the FCC have a better understanding of what is and isn't racist than Al and Ed.