Val and Al: MSNBC’s Real Teachable Moment
Jeffrey Lord
by

May 29th would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 101st birthday. It is a moment worth recalling in the middle of the Roseanne episode.

In June of 1963, JFK took to America’s television screens in the middle of racial turmoil surrounding the admittance of two young Americans to the University of Alabama. He began this way:

This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.

From there the President went into a candid discussion of race in America. It was an absolutely inspiring speech if, as I was at the time, one was old enough to understand it. It inspires still today. Out of that speech came this one JFK line that should serve as eternal wisdom for Americans:

“…race has no place in American life or law.”

It is safe to say that Roseanne would still have her television show had she absorbed this particular JFK wisdom long ago, not to mention that the country would be better off.

Which brings us to the immediate issue of Roseanne and her wildly offensive tweet on ex-Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. To say that Roseanne was wrong understates. It is particularly sad that her mistake has cost her cast-mates and a horde of behind the scenes folks their jobs. Lost too was a really good show that had sharp writing, a good plot line, and was, quite obviously, a massive hit with the audience.

But let’s not let the moment slide without a serious acknowledgment of what followed Roseanne’s tweet.

MSNBC invited Ms. Jarrett on their network to discuss. Which seemed fine when one simply heard of the invite. But as presented? Wow. There at Valerie Jarrett’s side as she talked about this episode as a “teachable moment” was — one can’t make this up — Al Sharpton.

Sharpton has been discussed here in this space six years ago, and also here, with reason.

Among other things, I linked to what I called the “Sharpton tapes.” As here:

Here, American Spectator fans, are the Al Sharpton tapes.

Listen here if you really want to hear MSNBC’s star at work, the n-word spewing and spewing and spewing.

Listen here to hear MSNBC’s star Sharpton instruct on “Chinamen” and Koreans and watermelons.

• And don’t miss MSNBC star Sharpton’s “Greek homo” routine, here.

• Or MSNBC star Sharpton’s “apology” for inflaming a Harlem racial situation by going on about a “white interloper” here. That incident, by the way, resulted in a death.

Oh yes. Let’s not forget Sharpton’s infamous TV appearance in which said to an audience member: “You ain’t nothing, you a punk faggot.”

In other words? There is Sharpton — on either audio or videotape — repeatedly spewing the “n word,” ranting on about “Chinamen” and “Greek homos” and referring in classic anti-Semitic style to a Jewish man as a “white interloper” in an infamous incident that lead to someone’s death. And that’s before we get to the “punk faggot” slur.

And the end result? MSNBC gives him his own television show — and Ms. Jarrett and her boss, President Obama, give him serious access to the White House. Reported National Review in 2014:

Sharpton has been “enthusiastically embraced by President Obama. He has bragged about

helping to pick a new attorney general and communed with the current one. In fact, a much-quoted Politico profile last summer described Sharpton as Obama’s “go-to man on race.”

Given the reports of phone calls and text messages frequently exchanged between Sharpton and top Obama officials, a complete accounting of the relationship may be impossible. But a perusal of the White House visitor log — which shows 61 visits by Sharpton since 2009 — illustrates the extraordinary access Sharpton has had to the president and his top advisers.

Thirty-four of Sharpton’s visits were for White House events like high-profile nominations, bill signings, and soirées. Some, like the February 9, 2010, “Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” seem well within Sharpton’s wheelhouse. But many more — including a March 18, 2010, signing ceremony for a “jobs bill” and a May 19, 2010, event honoring visiting Mexican president Felipe Calderón — leave one wondering where Sharpton’s expertise enters the picture. Others — such as the Obamas’ 2011 Super Bowl party, small-scale movie screenings in February 2011 and April 2013, and especially the president’s birthday party in August 2011 — speak to a close personal relationship between Sharpton and the first family.”

Now. Can you imagine — can you imagine???? — the uproar that would (rightly!!!!) ensue if, in the wake of this episode with Roseanne, she were welcomed to the Trump White House for some 61 visits, with all kinds of access given her to President Trump? There would be, quite justifiably, hell to pay.

Yet there sits Valerie Jarrett on MSNBC talking about a “teachable moment” as next to her is somebody — a notorious racial arsonist — who has an absolutely wretched record on all things racial. Will MSNBC dump Sharpton in the wake of the Roseanne episode? Of course not. For that matter will they dump the gay bashing Joy Reid? Absolutely not.

And Disney? The company that so ostentatiously fired Roseanne — but hired Keith Olbermann?

Olbermann the guy who tweets four letter words and all manner of contemptuous bile towards the President and his supporters? Will Olbermann be fired for, to borrow from the Disney Roseanne statement, tweets that are “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values”?

Ha! Don’t hold your breath.

Let me be clear. The way to resolve these moments is — or should be — crystal clear. Let the audience decide. If the viewing audience opposed Roseanne — and there is every reason to think many would — her ratings would have tanked. Ending the show in a fashion consistent with one of the oldest of American values — free speech.

In fact, the NFL has learned this lesson the hard way. They gave free rein to Colin Kaepernick and other kneeling players to insult the NFL fans. No one was saying that Kaepernick didn’t have free speech rights. His rights were perfectly intact. But no employee of anything anywhere has the right to demand protest time on company time. And in the case of Kaepernick the kneel-for-the-national anthem routine was seen by fans, not to mention President Trump, as a serious insult. Result? The television audience for NFL games dropped like a stone. The message was finally received by a slow-thinking league and now, finally, the word has gone out to the players: stand for the national anthem — or stay in the locker room while it is being played.

Roseanne, ABC, and Disney would have benefitted from this wisdom. Instead they chose to fire her — instantly drawing attention to their own hire of Olbermann and MSNBC’s problem with Joy Reid and Al Sharpton.

And in the case of Valerie Jarrett, MSNBC, and Sharpton?

We have indeed had a teachable moment. Which is to say, one can spew racist sentiments that are as vile as Roseanne’s if not more so. One can out with the abject racism of the “n-word” or go on television and call someone a “punk faggot.”

But if you are a liberal it is all one big no big deal.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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