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Sharpton on Jackson's Place in History

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 26, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is a close friend of the Jacksons, join me now. Reverend, I know you were close to him. I'm very sorry about your loss. You know, Tommy said something, and I went back last night. I was watching the coverage, and I went back, and I went to YouTube. And I started watching Michael and the Jackson 5, and amazing talent.

You were friends with him. What happened? The strangeness, this — he became a recluse, the surgery? What happened? Why was he so conflicted?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: You know, I think you've got to see it in the right context. If you look at Michael Jackson as the global icon he had on the level of Sinatra and the level of Presley, what happened to all of them? All of them had conflicts. All of them had a dark side.

Video: Watch Sean's interview

Do we remember Elvis for the allegations against him or do we remember what he did? Do we remember Sinatra?

I think that Tommy's right. We've got to deal with the fact this man changed music. This man was the first global artist of his kind and let whatever was negative sort out what may or may not have happened. And let's extol him to the level that he deserves.

HANNITY: Maybe — maybe we're asking a broader question, and maybe I'll — maybe I'll head to your spiritual side on this. You know, why — look, the carpenter has pressure. The guy that's a blue collar worker, they have pressure. Everybody in their life has pressure. Believe it or not, even radio and TV show hosts, they have pressure. You have pressure being in the public eye.

And I understand this is on a scale that maybe most people can't — maybe can't relate to, but they certainly have a lot of pressure if they can't pay their mortgage. Why is it this phenomenon with famous people, celebrities?

SHARPTON: I think that the phenomenon is that sometimes when you have these extraordinary gifts and this extraordinary reach, you can't fit that into an ordinary lifestyle, and sometimes adjusting the extraordinary into ordinary is very difficult to negotiate.

HANNITY: Would this be a fair statement, and I've noticed this of a lot of my friends in the radio business. People you don't like. I always say their blessing is their curse. Was his gift of song and dance and his ability to perform a great blessing? Was it also a curse?

SHARPTON: The question is it could have been, and it maybe wasn't. The question is, was it a blessing to us, and do we celebrate the blessing? And do we look at the curse and say, "Well, let's learn by not having to engage ourselves in those same problems."

HANNITY: As a friend of Michael Jackson's, did he confide in you? Did he reach out to you? Did he seek spiritual counseling?

SHARPTON: Michael — Michael and I talked and worked together on things down through the years. I was like three years older, so we knew each other since teenagers.

HANNITY: You were a born preacher.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: I grew up in the pulpit. But he talked — he was closer to his family than the press says. He talked to his brothers. He talked to his mom and dad. In fact, he was at the 60th wedding anniversary of his parents a few weeks ago, and I think that Michael understood he could trust very few people. Very few people weren't trying to get his story out of him.

HANNITY: Last question. You were preaching — how old were you?

SHARPTON: I preached my first sermon when I was 4. And again when I was 10.

HANNITY: What was the name of your book?

SHARPTON: "Go and Tell Pharaoh."

HANNITY: All right. So I read your book. I found it pretty interesting, because you were preaching and you had this...

SHARPTON: Yes.

HANNITY: Why were you able to, you know, not succumb to drugs and to enablers and handlers and all these people that are manipulating?

SHARPTON: Well, because the difference between growing up, even though you're in public, you're in a church world. And the people around you are church oriented or civil rights oriented. The people in entertainment have a basically, a whole different mode of thinking.

And I think that Michael, the fact that he was coming back, practicing eight hours a day, Michael did a whole lot better than the media wants to give him credit for. And even in his state, he changed music; he changed the world.

HANNITY: Did you know about his drug use?

SHARPTON: I don't know now. We're still waiting to see if it was as bad as people say it was. I didn't know about Elvis' drug use, but I know Elvis was a great artist and so was Michael Jackson.

HANNITY: Michael Jackson was a great talent. This whole story is a tragedy.

SHARPTON: The whole story...

HANNITY: When you look at that young — that young performer, that was Michael Jackson, that could have been, and this need not have happened.

SHARPTON: Sean, the fact that he's gone is a tragedy. The fact that a young black kid from Gary, Indiana, changed the world, where kids of all races imitated him, that's a victory.

HANNITY: That's a great story. All right — we agree.

SHARPTON: We're not going to take the victory out of Michael Jackson.

HANNITY: And thanks for being with us, Reverend. Appreciate it.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

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