Sharpton No Shows NABJ Convention

"Hello NABJ. I must be going."

This would still be just another non-journalist media “celebrity” receiving a TV show based upon their name recognition, not their years of experience, training, ability and talent.

The National Association of Black Journalists invited the Reverend Al Sharpton to last week to speak at their convention.   He accepted the invitation.  Then he turned it down.
The Reverend Al Sharpton blew off the convention based upon his anger at statements made on the NABJ discussion board by two members.   I am one of those two.  I wonder if the other guy is feeling like events  have swirled out of their control.

It’s not always fun being stuck in the eye of the storm.  It’s even less fun when only half of what you say gets any notice.

There’s a saying that a lie can be half way around the world before truth puts on its shoes.  The same thing applies to misinformation except in cyberspace it can be all the way around the world before truth even wakes up.

In my nearly 20 years as a reporter, editor, columnist and blogger, I have been at the center of controversy more than once.   A syndicated radio show host called me a “Sambo.”  I’ve had more than a few readers accuse me of being a  “White-hating militant.”   There is no need for me to declare who I am to anyone who doesn’t know me.  When I write something I never declare it to be the definitive truth.  It is simply my truth and truth is subjective.  It can be accepted, rejected or ignored.

It’s regrettable Sharpton chose to blow off over a thousand Black journalists because in his words, he “would have been a distraction” by showing up.   Sharpton was scheduled to be part of a discussion on presidential politics  as part of a panel with Cornel West, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, author Sophia Nelson and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Sharpton said in an interview, “I was invited to come speak about politics and the upcoming presidential election. If they had invited me to talk about whether advocates and activist organizations should host talk shows, I would have considered coming to discuss those kinds of things. But to put me on a political panel and then for it to go into something else about MSNBC, that wouldn’t have been good.”

I have no idea what moderator Roland Martin would have asked Sharpton or what questions he would have gotten from attendees.   But so what if the MSNBC question or my remarks would have come up.   I know Sharpton wasn’t invited to talk about whether he was getting a show or not.  By refusing to attend he made his absence the issue and a huge distraction.   Or does he think Martin and NABJ president Kathy Times were calling to ask him to reconsider because they had nothing better to do?

The issue is not whether or not Sharpton should get a show.  It never was the issue.  Since so many seem to have missed out on what the subject actually was here is a reminder from Carole Simpson as reported by Richard Prince on his Journal-isms column.

Simpson sees the problem in Sharpton's new gig.

Carole Simpson, the retired ABC News anchor, echoed Winbush in a telephone interview Wednesday with Mallary Jean Tenore of the Poynter Institute.

“[Sharpton] was not a journalist. It seems like having a name is more important than your credentials and the news you’ve covered, and how well you did as a reporter and how much you did as a thinker and writer about the issues of the day,” she said. “Who’s going to get the eyeballs? … That’s the bottom line. It’s all about eyeballs. It’s the drive for ratings.

“I have nothing against the Rev. Al. I’ve known him for years. I’ve covered him, but he doesn’t sound like a professional broadcaster. Somebody sounding like that wouldn’t typically be hired by any station. Yeah, as a pundit. He’s an intelligent man. I give him credit for that. But he doesn’t sound like a professional broadcaster.

“But he’s controversial, he’s provocative, he yells, and so they’re looking for personalities and not journalists. The problem that I have, as NABJ has, is fine — hire somebody of color — but how about a journalist? Not a reverend. I don’t get it.”

I don’t either.  The point was never whether or not Sharpton should get the MSNBC gig.  The point was why can’t a journalist even be considered? 

My comment has appeared on, Beliefnet, the conservative Accuracy In Media website, three times on Prince’s column,  the Tom Joyner Morning Show, read by Keith Olbermann on his newly revived Countdown program and last week Politco picked it up.

With the exception of Prince nobody has picked up the phone or dropped me an e-mail asking me why I wrote what I wrote.  The comment is all that matters.  The commentator is irrelevant.

Sharpton has run for president.  He’s faced down angry White mobs in Howard Beach, Bensonhurst, and Crown Heights.  He’s gone head-to-head with the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.  He’s been in screaming matches with Cornel West.   Sharpton has taken on professional back breakers and walked away with a big winning grin on his face.

Last week he got in a shouting match with that old Nazi sympathizing racist Pat Buchanan over his calling President Obama “your boy.”

Am I supposed to believe Sharpton is afraid to take on a freelance writer and blogger from Columbus, Ohio he’s never heard of?  If Sharpton had shown up in Philadelphia and someone asked him a question about the NABJ list serve he didn’t want to answer there’s a simple two-word response, “no comment.”

The mind boggles at the suggestion, but it seems to be a reality.

Sharpton said,  “People are making conclusions based off their assumptions. I’ve been guilty of this too in the past, so I understand it, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that people are rushing to judgment.”

No argument there, Reverend.  Unfortunately, since you haven’t bothered to get the story, you are one of those people.   What you believe I said was not necessarily what I meant.

Philly loves NABJ, but Al Sharpton doesn't.

2 thoughts on “Sharpton No Shows NABJ Convention

  1. Methinks Rev. Al was told by management to skip the convention.
    At least that’s what I figured from his quote above. But remember that I just interviewed somebody in his camp about his quest to get jobs for black men. (Silence filled the room)
    Just like Messe, it always seems like they use young black men as a pawn to get something for themselves. They say they are doing something for US but it’s really for them.

    That’s why if you want to get something in life, you have to get it on your own.
    As the rappers say, “I’m gon’ get mine, you gon’ get yours, and I’m gon get mine”


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