- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2003

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton contended yesterday that newspapers and other media outlets are dismissive of his presidential campaign because newsrooms are overwhelmingly white.

“I think when you look at the lack of diversity in the newsrooms, when you look at the lack of diversity from the editors and those in power, then you see them as automatically dismissive of anything that is not like them, which is white males,” Mr. Sharpton said.

“I think we’ve seen some very blatant racial insensitivity in the coverage of this race so far,” Mr. Sharpton said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Mr. Sharpton complained that former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont has been virtually anointed the hot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 — a case, he said, of white-dominated media focusing on a middle-age white man.

He noted that many commentators have compared Mr. Dean to former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom were governors, without mentioning that both Georgia and Arkansas have sizable minority populations while Vermont is nearly all-white.

“No one has even asked about the fact that this surge of support has been really one-dimensional,” Mr. Sharpton said.

In addition, Mr. Sharpton said he is often asked about how he can hope to lure white voters in key early states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, while Mr. Dean is never pressed on how he will appeal to minorities.

“When I come to Iowa, they ask ‘How can Sharpton get the white vote?’” the minister said. “I’ve run [for governor] in New York and gotten more white votes in my races than he’s gotten black votes in Vermont. Why aren’t we talking about that?”

Mr. Sharpton shot to national prominence for his role in a series of racially inflammatory protests in New York City. He lost a slander suit for falsely claiming that a white prosecutor had raped Tawana Brawley. One protest ended in a fatal arson attack on a business he had been publicly boycotting over racial insensitivity.

Mr. Sharpton said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, another Democratic presidential aspirant who is black, also isn’t getting serious news coverage. “That kind of racial insensitivity has permeated this race,” he said.

Mr. Sharpton was in Sioux City to join Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, in a series of forums Mr. Harkin is sponsoring to give the nine Democratic candidates a chance to make their cases with activists pledged to attend next January’s precinct caucuses.

The caucuses will start the presidential-nominating season.



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