Tuning Out Jesse Jackson, by Michael King

A New Visions Commentary paper published August 2001 by The National Center
for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Ct., N.E., Washington, DC 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202-543-5975, E-Mail [email protected], Web http://www.nationalcenter.org.
Reprints permitted provided source is credited.

No good deed goes unpunished when Jesse Jackson is involved. But, this time around, Jesse’s got a fight on his hands because his prey won’t roll over and play dead like usual.

Trying to give a man a leg up, Sinclair Broadcasting gave Eddie Edwards a loan in 1991 to help him start his own television company. Edwards’ company, Glencairn Limited in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, manages some of the television stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.

At the time the loan was made, Sinclair Broadcasting was lauded by many for helping Edwards – a black man – get ahead in a field that has historically had few minority owners.

Fast forward to 1998. Edwards wanted to sell his Glencairn to Sinclair. Fair enough, right? Not to Jesse "The Mouth That Roared" Jackson.

Jackson, in his infinite wisdom and working under the auspices of his PUSH/Rainbow Coalition organizations, filed the first of several petitions with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designed to block the sale of Glencairn’s assets to Sinclair. At the time, the head of the FCC was a Jackson pal, Bill Kennard.

Jackson claimed that Edwards was acting as a black front man for a white ownership group. PUSH/Rainbow Coalition cited a number of reasons why the government should block the sale of Glancairn.

Edwards believes the opposition to the sale coming from PUSH/Rainbow Coalition is nothing more than a personal vendetta on Jackson’s part. But, in light of a pending FCC ruling, Edwards declined to elaborate further in a June interview with the New York Post.

In the interview, Edwards told the Post, "The tactics they have used should have raised eyebrows at the FCC. Here you have Jesse Jackson going around filing phony petitions to interfere, to put pressure on people, so that they, in my opinion, can make peace with him."

PUSH/Rainbow Coalition has filed a number of protests of media mergers and acquisitions on racial grounds over the last several years, and dropped their objections in every case after receiving fat checks and other concessions from the companies involved.

In other words, Jesse Jackson and his organizations were hustling "protection money," not looking out for our civil rights.

Edwards is different than the others in the fact that he refuses to play the game that Jackson is running. Not only that, he insists that if anyone is playing "front man" it is Jackson himself. "You talk about fronting! There are countless individuals out there, friends and family members of Jesse’s, who got what they have only because of their relationship to him," Edwards said.

Edwards points to the $40 million Budweiser distributorship awarded to Jackson’s sons, Yusef and Jonathan. The distributorship was granted only after Jackson threatened Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch with a nationwide boycott.

Edwards refuses to pay any "protection money" to Jackson and won’t buy into any of Jackson’s racially charged rhetoric. Given the arrival of a new FCC Chairman, Michael Powell, Edwards is hopeful that Jackson’s reduced clout will allow the jam that has delayed the sale of Glencairn Limited to be lifted. Powell’s arrival has emboldened Edwards, prompting Edwards to speak out about the problems he is facing while simply conducting his business.

Here’s hoping that more people will find the courage to stand up to Jackson’s mafia tactics like Eddie Edwards so that others can see Jackson for what he really has become: a petty thug.

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