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Trayvon Martin: With call for sanctions, is Al Sharpton crossing a line?

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On Friday, shopkeepers in Sanford urged Sharpton to reconsider the proposed sanctions. My Fox Orlando, a TV station, also reported that the some in the NAACP have urged Sharpton to tone down the idea.

“Punishing me and the rest of downtown for something? No,” wine merchant Ken Martin told Fox. “We don't do that to you, why do that to us?”

Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly went one step further on Friday, alleging that media organizations like MSNBC and CNN, which has published fiery op-eds on the topic along with straight news coverage, have a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

“They will say racial injustice has been done if he is not convicted,” O'Reilly said, “and that can lead to violence.”

MSNBC is hardly alone in using high-profile public figures and activists to push points of view and inject themselves directly into public debate and controversies.

Fox News itself has hired major Republican politicians like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin to give conservative spin to daily news events, including on issues and causes on which they have staked their professional careers, and Ms. Palin has been a well-paid speaker at tea party events.

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