Still Crazy After All These Years
If someone had told journalists back in the 1980’s that the media would still be covering Al Sharpton’s feuds with Donald Trump 30 years later, they would have had a good laugh. But here we are, a befuddled public watching as Trump, now President of the United States, tangles with Sharpton, now America’s most influential civil rights leader. This long-running show is playing to a whole new generation of news consumers, like a third remake of “Batman.”

The details of their recent fight, almost too insipid to recount, revolve around Trump’s battery of racist tweets disparaging Congressman Elijah Cummings and his district in Baltimore. When Sharpton called him out for his insults, Trump trained his attacks on him. “Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score,” Trump responded . “Hates Whites & Cops!”

The media plunged in.

“Sharpton calls Trump's Baltimore attacks racist,” reported Reuters .

“Sharpton: Trump has ‘particular venom’ for black people,’ headlined Politico .

“Trump calls Al Sharpton a ‘con man’ who ‘hates whites,’” the New York Post screamed .

“A look at their Twitter feud” offered USA Today .

Democratic presidential candidates ran to Sharpton’s defense. “@TheRevAl has dedicated his life to the fight for justice for all,” wrote Elizabeth Warren. Sharpton has “spent his life fighting for what’s right,” said Kamala Harris. He is “a champion in the fight for civil rights,” said Joe Biden.

That was too much for Sharpton’s critics.

“He’s made a career of inciting violence and vomiting lies,” wrote Kyle Smith in The National Review . “And Democrats have cheered him on.”

“Mr. Sharpton is an ambulance-chasing, anti-Semitic, anti-white race hustler,” wrote an incensed Glenn Loury in The Times, adding that the Democratic candidates who rose to Sharpton’s defense “have, yet again, taken Mr. Trump’s bait, handing him another easy victory while yoking themselves to a genuine bigot.”

The jukebox of Sharpton oldies cranked up. Tawana Brawley. Freddy’s Fire. Crown Heights. The Central Park Five.

The Reverend “should still be seen as a notorious hate figure but has somehow escaped that fate,” wrote Seth Mandel in the Washington Post .

Yet the most recent infractions on that list are several decades old. Sharpton never apologized for those infamous episodes, creating a lasting stain on his reputation. But his politics have grown so mainstream over the past two decades they’re almost boring. He’s proved smarter and more politically agile than his legion of critics. Instead of his clout diminishing with Barack Obama’s departure from the White House, he seems more relevant than ever because the current president seems obsessed with denigrating black people.

And truth be told, no one really wants Al Sharpton to go away. Conservatives love to hate him. Democrats are content to kiss his ring when necessary. And Trump is clearly going through the motions in slamming his old tabloid counterpart.

Sharpton told The Times that the last time he and Trump ran into one another was on the set of Saturday Night Live in 2015.

“He came with a thumb handshake,” Mr. Sharpton recalled, “and he said, ‘You gotta do what you gotta do, I gotta do what I gotta do.’”

Like partners in an aging music act, they’re still singing the same songs, all these years later.
Bill de Blasio, Media Punching Bag
It may not be much longer before Bill de Blasio makes his painful return to his job running New York City. His debate performance Wednesday seems unlikely to revive his stillborn campaign.

When reporters wrote about him at all, they mainly noted the hometown hecklers who greeted de Blasio with demands to fire the police officer in the Eric Garner case. Yet the reviews in the national media continued to reflect the same overt disdain that has been prevalent from the start.

“New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was evidently determined to disprove the oft-repeated refrain that voters gravitate to the candidate they would most wish to have a beer with,” wrote Politico founding editor John Harris. “His face regularly flashed a self-satisfied scowl, as he rasped self-righteously at his rivals.”

“Let’s be honest,” wrote Emily Stewart in Vox . “Bill de Blasio also is not going to be president.”

But that was generous compared to the reviews from columnists and writers for The Times who handicapped the debate.
“Winning the bronze cup for most irritating,” wrote Gail Collins.

“Too catty,” said Maureen Dowd.

“His candidacy remains inexplicable,” said Michelle Goldberg.

“He came across as mostly opportunistic and destructive,” said Nicholas Kristof.

“He was his typical irritating and insufferable self,” said Peter Wehner. “He may be the most unlikable presidential candidate in living memory.”

Somewhere, there may be fans of de Blasio's candidacy in the media. For his sake they'd better come out of hiding soon.

Here and There
Kimberly Winston , previously senior executive producer for New York 1, joins Mercury … Brooke Lorenz moves from the Washington Post to CBS News to become senior manager of communications in Washington, D.C. … Sophia Kim joins the New York State Department of Financial Services as press secretary after leaving SKDKnickerbocker … David Ng leaves the Los Angeles Times to join Breitbart … Stephanie Sy , formerly at Yahoo! News, becomes correspondent and West Coast anchor at PBS NewsHour … Jordan Fabian moves from The Hill to Bloomberg … Sarah Boxer , formerly political and field producer at Yahoo! News, becomes a senior producer at CNN… Jodi Rudoren , former assistant managing editor at The Times , moves to the Forward as editor-in-chief.
"Better to have a few rats than to be one" - Baltimore Sun editorial
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