Along with hosting MSNBC's weekday PoliticsNation program, Al Sharpton plays many roles, ranging from community activist to harsh critic of his opponents, whom he regularly refers to in such emotion-charged terms as "white interlopers" and "Greek homos."
However, when Jason Mattera -- publisher of the Daily Surge website -- confronted Sharpton earlier this month and asked if he “should be banned from TV for the racist stuff you've said over the years,” the talkative politician tried to avoid admitting he ever used such epithets and then tried to dismiss one remark because it was directed at just one Jewish businessman.
The conservative interviewer noted he was asking Sharpton these questions “in the spirit of Donald Sterling," the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers in the National Basketball Association. He was recorded criticizing his girlfriend for "taking pictures with minorities" and "associating with black people” before being forced to sell his share of the team.
Interestingly, the community activist had threatened boycotts and protests if the NBA did not ban Sterling from the league.
Nevertheless, Sharpton responded to the publisher's question with a query of his own: “What racist stuff?”
“When you referred to Jews as 'white interlopers,'” Mattera stated.
I never referred to Jews as white interlopers. What are you talking about?
When you're going to say something, you ought to be correct. We heard exactly what Donald Sterling said. When did I call Jews “white interlopers?”
The interviewer charged that Sharpton had used the term when referring to Fred Harari, the Jewish owner of Freddy’s Fashion Mart, who wanted to expand his business into Harlem.
Due in part to the activist's angry rhetoric, many local residents angrily took part in what is now known as “the Crown Heights Riot.” In fact, one of Sharpton's followers burned the store to the ground while murdering eight people -- including himself.
Mattera then asked another question: “Doesn't that take like some serious balls on your end to accuse somebody of racism?”
“Seriously, you're misquoting,” Sharpton responded, asserting that the phrase was meant for only “one guy.”
At that moment, the video made the sound of screeching to a halt before a man doing a voice-over jumped into the discussion by stating:
Whoa, time out! Is Al Sharpton defending his racial slur by saying it was meant for one Jewish guy only?
OK. Hey, Al! how about when you disparaged Jews as diamond merchants and told them to pin their yarmulkes back? (January 19, 2013) How many Jewish folks did you have in mind? A head count would be nice.
The actual quote was: "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!”
The video then moved to a clip of the MSNBC host declaring: “White folks was [sic] in the cave when we were building empires. We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and those Greek homos ever got around to it.”
Mattera then turned to the incident in which Sharpton hammered David Dinkins, an African-American former mayor of New York City, whom the activist described as “the only n***er on television, the only n***er in the newspaper, the only n***er can talk.”
“You see how you lie?” the activist claimed. “You distort. Why don't you do what we did, come with facts?”
As NewsBusters previously reported, Sharpton used the terms “race,” “racism” and “racist” a whopping total of 215 times in 2013 during his MSNBC show.
The high point in the amalgamation of Sharpton's roles as TV show host and social activist came after Hispanic George Zimmerman shot and killed African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in March of 2012.
Howard Kurtz, who then was working for the Cable News Network, was astonished that MSNBC had allowed the host to call for Zimmerman's arrest during a rally and then go back to his television duties.
"It seems to me that by sandwiching his show between his activism, Sharpton was essentially covering himself," Kurtz wrote. "In what other context would a news organization allow someone to become such an integral part of the story and then represent the organization? Shouldn’t Sharpton have to choose between his dual roles?”
But the most bizarre statement Sharpton has made concerning race came when he was a guest of Morning Joe on January 20, when he lamented that Barack Obama has discouraged his supporters “who firmly believe a lot of people are against him because he's black” from using the race card in political debate.
It's hard to imagine what Sharpton's monologues and interviews would be like if the president actually gave him “free rein” to brandish his favorite racial slurs, and we can only wonder just how lower his ratings would plummet.