Once upon a time, there was a very good newspaper called Newsday, now a shadow of its former shadow. It had the snap and shape of a tabloid but the solidity of an old line broadsheet. Even though it was published on Long Island, it was right up there with the print stars of the day. Nationally, it was the fifth largest in circulation and third in frequency of being quoted.
One of the people who made it so was a reporter-then-editor-then columnist called Les Payne. Mr. Payne is black. That’s important to this story.
Then in the 1980s, there came a young girl named Tawana Brawley who also is black. And that’s important to this story.
She charged that she was raped, bound, thrown in a garbage bag by racist whites.
She is the pilot light that lit the gas bag that is Al Sharpton. But while Sharpton was flogging the story, some of us were convinced the allegations were nonsense. We took the facts of the case and divined that Miss Brawley was a scared teen, out after curfew and scared that her stepfather would punish -- maybe beat -- her and made up the story.
Evidently, Payne was one of those, investigated and found out it was so, then published the story which was then in effect lifted by the New York Times which got all but one element of the case steamrolled into a pancake and thrown away.
The element that survived? Sharpton. He insisted Brawley was telling the truth and like Goebbels, kept repeating the lie and today, he’s welcome at the White House.
There is only one thing you need to know about Al Sharpton; it should tell you everything. Before he was a self-anointed member of the clergy, before he was an “activist,” before he was anything, he was a record promoter. Ethics on a scale of 1-10? Minus five.
So first we had the giants of the modern era civil rights movement. MLK, James Farmer, Whitney Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Ella Baker, and on and on.
Gradually and sometimes not so gradually, they were replaced by people like Jesse Jackson and Ralph David Abernathy.
And now, THEY are replaced by Reverend Hoodwink and Farrakhan.
Wonder what Les Payne thinks about all this.
-Question for Robin Meade: Why don’t you take more time off and give us a rest?
-Question for the New York Times: will lopping off 100 heads in the newsroom really help your bottom line or are you just flailing and rearranging deck chairs?
-Question for Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky: Are you happy you could now re-invade Cuba if you were alive?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014