Indeed, right-wing media interests have been known to whipsaw those who speak out against them. NAACP President Ben Jealous became a target of conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart when he called on the Tea Party to “repudiate the racist element and activities” within its ranks. That call led to one of the biggest political gaffes by the White House and the NAACP in recent memory. The blogger retaliated by releasing a video of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod that was edited to make her appear to be making biased remarks at an NAACP event about her dealings with a white farmer. The initial outcry led to her forced resignation by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
As the denouement played out, the White House and Jealous denounced Sherrod’s alleged statements, even though she meant the opposite of what was portrayed in the video. Both the White House and the NAACP later apologized.
Sharpton said that the attack only sharpened his resolve to help raise votes for the embattled Democratic Party for the upcoming midterm elections in November. A political pugilist with decades of civil rights experience, he can galvanize masses from multiple platforms, including NAN, pulpits on Sunday mornings and four radio talk shows.
He also plans to use a new syndicated television show that airs on Oct. 3 to educate voters about the importance of the upcoming election season, he said. The show will appear on different stations in several markets, according to Rachel Noerdlinger, a spokeswoman for Sharpton.
“If anything, this attack only intensifies my plans to keep the pressure on,” Sharpton said. “We know we’re getting to them. We have to make sure there is turnout for the midterm elections. They operate with smear tactics that are at best thin, and this case is very thin. I don’t know of any civil rights organization that doesn’t have financial challenges, but we’re moving beyond it.”
Lynette Holloway is a Chicago-based writer. She is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.