A Slimmed-Down Al Sharpton Savors an Expanded Profile By NIKITA STEWART and JASON HOROWITZ AUG. 24, 2014Like Oprah, Sharpton periodically loses a lot of weight and then gets coverage for being the New Al.
In little more than 24 hours this weekend, the Rev. Al Sharpton led a march on Staten Island to protest the death of a black man in police custody, went to Washington to appear on “Meet the Press” and flew to Ferguson, Mo., where on Monday he is to eulogize the 18-year-old black man whose fatal shooting by the police set off days of unrest.
In between, Mr. Sharpton talked by phone to Valerie Jarrett, a White House adviser and presidential confidante, who told him that representatives of the Obama administration would be at the funeral for the 18-year-old, Michael Brown. It was an hour before she announced the news on Twitter, and well before the release of an official White House announcement.
From an overweight Brooklyn firebrand clad in tracksuits and draped in medallions, Mr. Sharpton has transformed himself into the White House’s civil rights leader of choice, an incessantly televised pundit, and even a poster child for a strict diet of salad and juice. …
His organization’s general counsel calls him “the hardest-working man in social justice.”This is a reference to Sharpton’s long quasi-filial relationship with singer James Brown. Sharpton was a friend of Brown’s son, who was killed in a car accident. After that, Brown sort of adopted Sharpton and treated him better than he treated any of his many real children.
Keep in mind that Sharpton really is a clever, interesting, hard-working man. Pushing Jesse Jackson aside is not an inconsiderable accomplishment. This isn’t like Being Julian Castro, this is the big leagues of the race rackets.
On Sunday on “Meet the Press,” he was asked about a much-discussed profile of him in Politico Magazine last week that charted how he became President Obama’s go-to civil rights advocate. “In every era going back to Lincoln with Frederick Douglass, presidents talk to those that were leading at that time,” Mr. Sharpton said. He went on to defend Mr. Obama against criticism that his remarks about Ferguson have been tepid, and praised the president for “addressing it twice while he was on vacation, not a statement but coming out live.”“Iconoclast?” I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
Between his own MSNBC program and his appearances elsewhere on the media landscape, Mr. Sharpton can seem a constant presence on TV and radio, and never more so than in the midst of crises, like those that have unfolded in Ferguson and on Staten Island this summer. …
But Mr. Sharpton’s ascent from one of the most divisive figures in New York — the Brooklyn iconoclast who backed what would prove to be bogus rape accusations by Tawana Brawley —
Let’s not forget Freddie’s Fashion Mart … Could any white activist’s career survive two such disasters? Oh, wait, there aren’t any white activist’s careers.
to the country’s most prominent voice on race relations involves more than the selection of inspiring music that accompanies his morning commute.Assuming that Bonfire of the Vanities remains the best guide to the backstory behind the media obsessions of 2014, I suspect that Sharpton’s latest rise is somehow or other helped along by a behind the scenes relationship with lawyer Benjamin Crump of Trayvon and Michael Brown fame. In Bonfire, Rev. Bacon has a deal with a William Kunstler-type radical civil rights lawyer, and maybe the real Rev. Bacon has something similar working with Crump.
He is above all a skilled political operator who has won the backing of a president and the gratitude of a New York mayor, and now knows full well how to seize on this perhaps fleeting moment (an ominous Clintonian cloud is on the horizon) and leverage that support into power and credibility. “I’m not in the kitchen cabinet, but I can get an audience in the living room from time to time,” he said understatedly. …Gaspard is the son of a Haitian lawyer
Mr. Sharpton had allies in the campaign — first and foremost Patrick Gaspard, the eventual White House political director
— but he won an especially powerful convert in Ms. JarrettBorn in Iran, where her African-American father was a doctor
, Mr. Obama’sSon of a white anthropologist, educated at a Honolulu prep school
closest adviser, for his behind-the-scenes work to rally support, and tamp down opposition, before the Democratic National Convention in Denver. …Barbadian mulatto middle class
Mr. Sharpton is not only a special guest. He is also a special host to the president, who has appeared as the keynote speaker at the National Action Network’s convention. Five cabinet members, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Okay, so the pattern is clear: the Obama Administration’s highest ranking blacks are by nurture out of touch with African-Americans, while Rev. Al spent years on the road with James Brown, so they see him as the authentic face of Black America. Unfortunately, their cynicism is probably justified.