Civil Rights Activist Al Sharpton Sued For Racial Discrimination
Reverend Al Sharpton is having a rough week. The controversial civil rights activist, along with Comcast and Time Warner Cable, has just been hit with a huge $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit. This news came among amidst rumors he’s next on the MSNBC show canceling chopping block.
The lawsuit was filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The plaintiffs are the National Association for African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) and Entertainment Studios Network, which was founded by comedian Byron Allen. They argue that Comcast and Time Warner paid activists like Sharpton large amounts of money to “whitewash” their practices by making it appear like the companies were promoting diversity when in actuality they weren’t. According to the plaintiffs, Sharpton and his fellow defendants helped facilitate Comcast and Time Warner’s “racist practices” by refusing to contract with 100 percent African-American owned businesses. The two media giants are currently being reviewed by U.S. regulators for a $45 billion merger.
The lawsuit states:
Comcast and Time Warner Cable collectively spend approximately $25 billion annually for the licensing of pay-television channels and advertising of their products and services ($20 billion licensing and $5 billion advertising), yet 100% African American–owned media receives less than $3 million per year.
The plaintiff goes on to argue that the only fully black-owned channel picked up by Comcast is the Africa Channel, which is owned by Paula Madison, the former Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast/NBC-Universal. The lawsuit alleges Madison is part of the supposed scam stating:
[Madison] was directly involved in putting together the sham MOUs and obtaining government approval for the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, thus creating a serious conflict of interest. In other words, aside from a channel that is owned and operated by the former Comcast/NBC-Universal executive who authored the MOUs, Comcast has not launched a single 100% African American–owned channel—by way of the MOUs or otherwise.
NAAAOM also claims Comcast used other black channels with black celebrities as “fronts” to “window dress” the truth that those channels are majority owned and controlled by white-owned businesses. Sharpton wasn’t the only one accused of receiving “whitewash” money. The lawsuit also alleges that the NAACP, National Urban League, and National Action Network had a hand in the supposed scam, signing phony diversity agreements with Comcast in exchange for donations.
This lawsuit couldn’t have come at a worse time for Sharpton, whose MSNBC show appears on the verge of cancellation. According to the Daily Beast, low ratings have forced MSNBC to give up on trying to be the Dr. Jekyll to FOX News’ Mr. Hyde, veering away from ultra liberal commentary in favor of a more traditional type of news. As a result they’re planning to nix left-wing programming and liberal commentators, possibly including the famed Reverend’s lackluster show “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton.” Neither MSNBC nor Sharpton have confirmed these rumors but the Daily Beast credits “knowledgeable sources at the Comcast-owned cable network” with the information leak. These same sources according to the Daily Beast speculate:
[Sharpton] could eventually be moved from his weeknight 6 p.m. slot to a weekend time period, as MNSBC President Phil Griffin attempts to reverse significant viewership slides by accentuating straight news over left-leaning opinion.
As a whole, it’s not looking too good for Sharpton, even though the outspoken reverend has weathered several controversies in the past. It will be interesting to see what evidence NAAAOM has to support their claims. If found guilty of racial discrimination, Sharpton’s career as a civil rights activist may be unable to survive the irony.