Al Sharpton says the New York Post should not have accused him of shaking down businesses because he also shakes down the paper’s corporate owner.
“SHAKE DOWN AL” screamed the Post’s Sunday front page. “How Rev gets paid not to cry ‘racism!'”
The story ripped Sharpton for going easy on companies who donate to his National Action Network.
But in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, Sharpton’s central defense was that News Corp — the company that owns the New York Post — also fills his coffers.
“I am not going to let them get around the fact that their company has been involved, has donated money, had us on their board of diversity.”
“Why are they doing it?” he asked. “Are they being shaken down?”
The plucky tabloid’s story said that, “For more than a decade, corporations have shelled out thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to Sharpton’s National Action Network. What they get in return is the reverend’s supposed sway in the black community or, more often, his silence.”
According to the Post, “Companies have long gotten in line to pay Sharpton. Macy’s and Pfizer have forked over thousands to NAN, as has General Motors.”
Now, the reverend is positioning for a new race hustle, the Post suggested.
When Sharpton met last month with Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal to discuss her racially coarse comments about Barack Obama in leaked emails, he left the door wide open for a donation.
“Sharpton notably did not publicly assert his support for Pascal after the meeting—what observers say seems like a typical Sharpton ‘shakedown’ in the making,” the Post noted. “Pay him in cash or power, critics say, and you buy his support or silence.”
In fact, after his meeting with Pascal, Sharpton told reporters “the jury is still out on where we go” with her.
The famously loquacious reverend hung up when TheDC asked if he would rule out hitting Pascal up for money.
“I am not prepared to do anything but to say that Rupert Murdoch has given, through News Corp, money to us and that we’re on the board, on their, have been on their diversity board. I am going to force you to use the quote I give you because that is the only quote I am giving you.”
Sharpton called back moments later with more quotes, albeit interspersed with his fixation on the alleged News Corp donations.
But when pressed for detailed comment about other businesses that shower their largesse on the National Action Network, he threatened to hang up again.
“Let’s end this because you playing games,” he thundered.
Sharpton then requested, and received, permission to record the rest of the interview for use on his MSNBC show — before doubling down.
“I said to you in response to the article in the New York Post that one, there is no company that has said in any way shape or form that they had given a donation to National Action Network to stop us from calling them racist.”
The reverend seemed to find it exculpatory that a good chunk of the article alleged influence peddling, rather than explicit race hustles.
The Post cited allegations in a New York State inspector general report that Sharpton worked to grease the wheels for a donor’s bid to open a race track casino in Queens.
The Connecticut hedge fund Plainfield Asset Management donated $500,000 in 2008 to a group promoting education equity, which then “funneled” the money to the National Action Network.
Plainfield was a $250 million investor in a group vying for a license for a new casino at the Aqueduct Raceway.
The Post cited a 2009 email from a consortium “member” that “Sharpton lobbied [then-New York Governor David] Patterson hard over the weekend on our behalf.”
“Tell me how that is a shakedown on race,” Sharpton demanded when asked about the arrangement. “That is their alleging someone said that I helped this guy cause he contributed to education.”
“That shows you how contorted the story is,” he continued. “Is there any allegation in that report or in the inspector general’s finding that there was any charge of racism involved?”
Sharpton then conceded he did discuss race with Patterson.
“I talked to, uh, Governor Patterson several times about the casino bidding thing—that I hoped that whoever he gives it to that they will, uh, commit to doing business with some of the minority entrepreneurs that are going to be in the area.”
“But I did not lobby him for anybody.”
It can take some pretty unfriendly persuasion before companies donate to the National Action Network.
According to the Post, General Motors rebuffed solicitations from the National Action Network from 2000 to 2006.
But the car giant finally coughed up the dough after Sharpton “threatened a boycott of GM over the planned closing of an African-American-owned dealership in the Bronx. He picketed outside GM’s Fifth Avenue headquarters.”
It is “absolutely not” true that the demonstration resulted in donations, Sharpton insisted. “GM, first of all, had given us money for many years [before that],” he claimed.
The Post also reported that Sharpton “targeted” Honda in a 2003 letter about the company’s supposed under-representation of black employees and managers.
“We cannot be silent while African-Americans spend hard-earned dollars with a company that does not hire, promote or do business with us in a statistically significantly manner,” he emailed.
But the reverend halted the “protests” once the company started to “sponsor NAN events.”
Sharpton insisted to TheDC that, “Honda had given us money before that [email] and since then and still does.”
He also claimed that the letter to Honda was not a “protest” but merely a request for information. “There was a letter asking for information. I can write a letter to the Daily Caller and say I want to know your diversity. That is not protesting.”
Upon conclusion of the interview, Sharpton warned ominously, “We will play what you write and play what you say.”
Sharpton’s communications manager Jacky Johnson refused to provide any proof of News Corp’s donations.
“We don’t release exact figures from any contributor, but News Corp has contributed for several years,” Johnson said. “They have been a sponsor at our annual dinner and awards program.”
“In 2014 Newscorp supported our events financially,” she emailed later.
Reached for comment, a representative for News Corp promised to look into the matter.