So Rush writes this op-ed in the WSJ. Go over there and read the details about his thwarted investment in the St. Louis Rams. I just want to focus on what he said about Al Sharpton, who was one of the key people who made a conspicuous fuss about Limbaugh:
In 1998 Mr. Sharpton was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay $65,000 for falsely accusing a New York prosecutor of rape in the 1987 Tawana Brawley case. He also played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot (he called neighborhood Jews "diamond merchants") and 1995 Freddie's Fashion Mart riot.Sharpton threatens to sue because of that, reports CNN, which adds:
The Crown Heights riot began after a Hasidic Rabbi accidently struck and killed an African American boy with his car. The boy died from the injuries–sparking four nights of riots. The Rabbi was not charged, but Sharpton played a large role in rallying on behalf of the young boy’s family and the African American community.CNN doesn't bother to fact check either Limbaugh's assertions or Sharpton's. What did Sharpton really do in relation to those old incidents?
According to a statement put out by Sharpton’s media consultant, a study New York Governor Mario Cuomo commissioned showed Sharpton was not involved in the Crown Heights incident until after the rioting concluded.
"Mr. Limbaugh's blatant and defamatory statements regarding the Crown Heights Riots falsely give the impression that Rev. Sharpton was present during the violence that occurred when in reality he had been called in by the family after the violence," Sharpton’s statement says.
"In terms of Freddie's Fashion Mart, Rev. Al Sharpton, along with local elected officials supported the protests. However, a lone gunman who disagreed with the nonviolent nature of the protests entered the store and killed seven people and himself… For Mr. Limbaugh to imply that Rev. Sharpton has anything to do with someone that killed people and himself is blatantly wrong," the statement continues.
I think Limbaugh was baiting Sharpton. Sharpton now has to talk about those old riots and the way he acted back then. If he sues, it will draw intense attention to the details of what happened, and we'll have to debate about the precise language Limbaugh used and how close to accurate it was. The question of the damage to Sharpton's reputation will be put in issue, and there will be discovery and factfinding relating to Sharpton's reputation and how much money it is worth. That's pretty risky for Sharpton, who likes to pose as an elder statesman nowadays. Meanwhile, Limbaugh, who may not want to begin any litigation, will have the opportunity to counterclaim, accusing Sharpton of defamation.
Look out, Reverend Al, it's a trap!
ADDED: This whole NFL controversy is a gift to Rush. I don't think Rush cared much about being one of the investors in the Rams. He wouldn't have had any serious power running things, and the group of investors came to him about it. Now, he's the center of attention, everyone's talking about him, and plenty of them are embarrassing themselves with careless, stupid, and nasty racial pandering — producing audio clips which he will play on his show, accompanied by scathing mockery and insistence that the mainstream media air his side of the story. If they do not, that's more fuel for Rush's red-hot critique of media. If they do, then he's on mainstream media, telling it his way at last.