By J. Smith
Al Sharpton is back under the mainstream microscope for a series of conflicting interests regarding his co-sign of the Comcast/NBC merger. The Daily Beast claims that Sharpton’s endorsement, which makes him the first “major” black leader to offer one, came with handsome payoffs both for Sharpton and his primary employer – Radio One.
“The Daily Beast has already reported that just months after Sharpton played a pivotal role in pushing the merger, he became a regular substitute host and appears now to be in line for a fulltime anchor post on Comcast’s MSNBC. As awkward as that coincidence is, how about a conflict of interest he did not disclose in his letters to the Federal Communications Commission – or his other pro-merger activities?” the Beast asks.
The site claims that Sharpton cheered on the merger when it had already paid dividends to Radio One and its affiliate TV One. After the merger, Radio One’s ownership of TV One rose to 50.8 percent, a conveniently timed stock transfer that Comcast admitted to facilitating. Radio One/TV One also became part of the basic cable package in Chicago and Miami after the deal, underlining the benefits that sprung from the companies close ties with each other.
“While Radio One is the largest single shareholder in TV One, Comcast has been its partner since TV One’s inception in 2004 and, until recently, held almost as much stock in the television network, 34 percent, as Radio One, 36.8 percent. In fact, Comcast’s role in the launch of this network, which targets a national black audience, was cited repeatedly by the company when questions were raised about its diversity track record during the yearlong debate about this merger,” the Beast reports.
So not only did Sharpton publically attach himself to a controversial cause that has already indirectly paid him for doing so, he virtually signed away the rights for the media giant to tokenize those African-American news mediums. He has been a much bigger asset politically than he has as a host for both his primary employer and his (possibly) future employer, Comcast/NBC. And this is the man who will soon become a trusted “journalist.”