Friday, July 22, 2011

MSNBC adds Tawana Brawley advocate Al Sharpton to its line-up

MSNBC is reportedly handing the Reverend Al Sharpton its coveted 6 pm timeslot "in a move bound to cause a storm."  See, e.g.,

Sharpton remains unapologetic about his role in the Tawana Brawley case.  This report appeared in the New York Daily News last May:

"A quarter-century later after he whipped up racial tensions over the incendiary [Tawana Brawley] case, Sharpton still stands by a story that the courts of law and public opinion long ago ruled a hoax."

"Back in 1987, 15-year-old Brawley claimed she had been abducted and raped for four days by a group of white men, at least one a cop. She was found in a garbage bag, covered in feces and charcoal-scrawled racial epithets.

"Sharpton, a brash young activist and minister, took over publicity for Brawley and made inflammatory accusations of a massive cover up, naming an assistant district attorney as one of the rapists.

"The case fell apart when the grand jury refused to indict, citing no physical evidence of rape and witnesses who saw Brawley when she was supposed to have been held captive."


Sharpton was found liable for defamation in connection with his advocacy for Brawley: "Sharpton . . . was . . . sued for defamation by former Dutchess County assistant district attorney Steven Pagones, after Sharpton and other advisors to then-15-year-old Tawana Brawley falsely accused Pagones of kidnapping and raping Brawley in 1987. In 1998, Pagones was awarded $345,000 in damages, $65,000 of which Sharpton was to pay. Sharpton refused to do so. However, in March 2001, a number of black business leaders including Johnnie Cochran, former Manhattan borough president Percy Sutton, and Earl Graves Jr., the president of Black Enterprise magazine, agreed to pay Pagones on behalf of Sharpton. Pagones did not return a call for comment." 


On a side note, Sharpton is facing repurcussions in the wake of the judgment entered against an associate of his who was recently found liable for sexual harassment and battery: "Tony Wafford, the West Coast Coordinator for the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), has lost a sexual harassment and battery lawsuit that was filed last fall by his employee, Sharon Song Byrd.  . . . . [A] coalition of African American women’s groups have angrily called for the resignation of Wafford and have threatened Sharpton with a possible boycott of his radio sponsors if demands are not met." 


Another cable channel, HLN, formerly known as CNN Headline News and CNN2, is home to Nancy Grace. Following the infamous Duke Lacrosse false rape claim, before Duke suspended the lacrosse team's season, Grace famously said: "I'm so glad they didn't miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape!"  See, e.g.,