Rosemary Robert's recent, but belated (Feb. 20), column is the N&R's only editorial response to the awarding of the Alston-Jones International Civil Rights Award to the Rev. Al Sharpton back on February 6th. Roberts cites Sharpton's past transgressions on racial matters and terms the giving of the award as a "shame".
The Rhino, a weekly publication that hit the streets six days (Feb 13) after the Sit-In Movement event, expressed outrage over the award as quickly as they could through a well researched piece written by former N&R columnist Jerry Bledsoe. Bledsoe termed the presentation a "travesty".
Both publication's op/eds seem to agree that Commissioner Skip Alston and State Rep. Earl Jones hung a very dark cloud over their here-to-for well-considered award by giving it to Sharpton. The timing of Roberts' column is odd though.
Surely it doesn't take 14 days to formulate an opinion on Al Sharpton and why his past should preclude him from receiving any award that has "civil rights" in its title. Because of the delay, it appeared that the N&R was going to keep silent on Sharpton's award as Bledsoe alleges, but the Rhino may have forced their hand by creating news through blasting Sharpton, Alston/Jones and the N&R in equal measures.
I realize that there is no love lost between the Rhino and the N&R but, in light of Bledsoe's criticism of the N&R in his column (including his allegation that the N&R committed "jounalistic derelection" by not covering Sharpton's past), I find it curious that Roberts never mentions Bledsoe's op-ed. Roberts column feels like an answer to the Rhino to me. The N&R editorial staff doesn't give an any other opinion on the award nor an explanation for their lag in outrage, so what else could Robert's column be but a response? Did it get lost? Was she on vacation?
The Rhino routinely, although disrespectfully, mentions the "TECAN&R"'s (The Eleven County Area News & Record) reporting ... but there is rarely any reciprocation.
Note to N&R: Ignoring the Rhino won't make Hammer and Co. go away. Roberts column should have given credit where credit was due if it indeed was an answer. If it was not an answer, what's up with taking 14 days to condemn Sharpton's past and the inappropriateness of him receiving the Alston-Jones award.
Related Posts: 2/17 Ed Cone: 2/13
Update 7:30p: It was pointed out to me in an email that Roberts' column reflects only her views and not those of the editorial staff at the N&R which I guess I kinda knew. I stand corrected.
Roberts' op/ed was certainly better late than never so we still have the N&R's "official" opinion on the appropriateness of the award to look forward to. Perhaps they will mention Bledsoe's column and answer his charges against them which are becoming more credible as time passes.