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In the Crossfire

Is Sharpton the target of a smear campaign?

(CNN) -- A 19-year-old FBI surveillance tape shows the Rev. Al Sharpton discussing a drug deal, but Sharpton says the recording is part of a campaign to smear his name. The tape, which was to be aired on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on Tuesday night, was recorded as part of a government investigation into whether boxing promoter Don King had ties with organized crime. Did law enforcement officials leak the tape in attempt to disrupt Sharpton's potential presidential run in 2004? Sharpton steps into the "Crossfire" with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to discuss it.

CARLSON: But Mr. Sharpton, do you think that you... may be, as a political matter, as a presidential candidate, playing this wrong? Rather than saying, They set me up, I didn't do it, et cetera, wouldn't it be more effective to say, "Look, I've been there, I'm the man of experience, I'm the candidate of experience, I've been involved in drug deals, I've been around them, and they're bad."

Don't you think that would be give you...

SHARPTON: You know, you know, Tucker...

CARLSON: ... an edge?

SHARPTON: ... first of all, I hope you're sober saying that. But if you just looked at this tape, clearly, anyone...

CARLSON: I just saw the tape, Mr. Sharpton.

SHARPTON: ... in their right mind would say, "If you have an FBI sting that didn't have -- what am I going to say I've been involved in, that I survived a sting?"

CARLSON: Well? Well, the man says...

SHARPTON: That the government says -- first of all, we -- my two predecessors...

CARLSON: ... but the man...

SHARPTON: My two predecessors...

CARLSON: You're wearing a cowboy hat, Al, and the guy says, "The cocaine?"...

SHARPTON: Oh ..

CARLSON: ... and you say, "Yes." I mean, come on!

SHARPTON: My two predecessors, one said, I smoked marijuana and didn't inhale. The other was arrested, drunk driving. I had an attempted sting, and I ended up being the bee. So, I mean, let's go forward with the election.

CARLSON: But at the time, you didn't know it was a sting, by your own admission.

SHARPTON: By my own admission, I was trying -- I would say anything to make sure I get out of there alive.

CARLSON: But you didn't report him to the police...

SHARPTON: The challenge -- I did. And the...

CARLSON: ... once you left.

SHARPTON: ... challenge is...

CARLSON: No, you didn't.

SHARPTON: ... then why didn't we make the deal? What happened to the deal, Tucker? Any lawyer will tell you...

CARLSON: Well, he wasn't a real coke dealer.

SHARPTON: ... any lawyer will tell you, any lawyer will tell you that there is nothing on that tape that could have been used against me, which is why they didn't.

But the reason, what you just said about he wasn't a real drug dealer, is all the more reason, that if they felt that they really had me, and that I hadn't said no later, they would have come in, done a drug deal, tape that, and there wouldn't be no question about what I was going to do.

CARLSON: Put it in your campaign ads then, it's a great spot, I love it.

BEGALA: Reverend, do you think, do you think that this is entrapment, and do you think that they targeted you for this?

SHARPTON: Oh, there's no -- they even admitted that they targeted me. They admitted it was a sting. And clearly it's entrapment. And it will be a great campaign ad, because it shows the danger of the abuse of things that we're looking at, like homeland security and others, that you can just come in, target people, do private tapes, release them when you want, don't explain where they come from.

I think that this is an absolute campaign issue. There are millions of people... that have been entrapped...

BEGALA: It is true, the FBI...

SHARPTON: ... in certain situations that couldn't fight back...

BEGALA: ... the FBI did not dangle car keys and a six-pack of beer...

SHARPTON: ... I will fight back.

BEGALA: ... in front of Bush, he did that all on his own.

CARLSON: Speaking of campaigns, speaking of campaigns, Mr. Sharpton, I want to wish you luck on yours. You have a lot of heart to come on our show after that tape. It's really an amazing tape. Take our advice, put it in your campaign ads. Good luck, you're a great Democrat. Thanks for joining us.

SHARPTON: I will, Tucker, along with you.



 
 
 
 







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