Whatever happened to innocent until proved guilty? Are we deciding murder cases now by taking polls?
As Trayvon Martin’s parents call for calm, debate heats up in the media itself, not about the Florida teenager’s shooting death, but about Al Sharpton’s multiple roles in the case as cable news host, racial agitator, judge and jury.
A quarter of a century ago, the Reverend Al began his public career as champion of Tawana Brawley, a black teenage girl in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. who, after staying out overnight, invented a story of gang rape by white law officers, which ended with a Grand Jury finding Sharpton guilty of defamation and ordered to pay damages to the accused.
Since then, Sharpton has morphed into super-celebrity as a presidential candidate in Democratic debates as well as the beneficiary of free face time in every incident with racial overtones since then, including the firing of Don Imus, culminating in his hiring as an MSNBC news host last year.
In the Trayvon Martin case, Sharpton’s antics have been abetted by the failure of local Florida authorities for weeks to provide details about the accused, allowing one-sided news to escalate into a national uproar, involving even the President.
Now, in slow leaks, facts begin to emerge.