>Now that we’ve had a chance to dissect the Shirley Sherrod video “controversy” and the subsequent omelet-in-face fallout for Andrew Breitbart’s pseudo investigative journalism, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to take a step back and examine this news story from various angles.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
“I am public enemy No. 1 or 2 to the Democratic Party, the progressive movement and the Obama administration based upon the successes my journalism has had,” Breitbart said in a telephone interview late Thursday morning as he headed to the airport for what he said was a long-planned, three-day vacation.
Breitbart asserted that liberal media outlets are shifting the focus to the misleading excerpting in the videos he posted — as well as his erroneous statement about the context of the footage — to divert attention from what he asserts is a double standard on racist behavior exposed by the video, which he released Monday to push back against a recently passed NAACP resolution expressing concern about “racist elements” in the tea party movement.
“The desire here is to make it about me and not the Democratic establishment and the NAACP vs. the tea party,” Breitbart said, defending the footage he posted as “a self-contained newsworthy video that established the media standard of pointing out that the NAACP countenanced racism in its own award dinner setting. That was the point. That was the point. And the video proves it.” He offered no apology to Sherrod but said that she has not been held accountable for the racial overtones of what she said. “If anybody reads the sainted, martyred Sherrod’s entire speech, this person has not gotten past black vs. white,” he said.
I’ll let that marinate for a bit…
There are some who argue that the railroading of Ms. Sherrod is a wake up call for black folk, particularly black women, to watch what they say in public. Any comment or speech we give can be misrepresented, they tell us. I can’t argue with that point. Minorities and women must be twice a sharp and work harder than the good ol’ boys and anything we do or say can very much be used against our advancement.
But can’t any comment nowadays be misrepresented as something negative/racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic? All it takes is a tech savvy activist who has revenge in his heart to manipulate any person’s message for his personal gain. Just watching what we say in public won’t stop anyone from taking us down if they so desire.
But we must look at the larger picture concerning this story. The mere idea that a blogger, who has no journalistic integrity or experience, can manipulate any story to paint a person a certain way should be of concern to the public. Political discourse in this country largely depends upon communication, whether written or spoken. With the pressure new media writers places on traditional news outlets to get and report scoops first, misinterpretations of messages are bound to happen–and happen often. And these traditional news outlets, facing the inevitable decline of viewership and readership, often resort to using new media outlets as sources of their poorly vetted stories.
Brietbart’s campaign to destroy Ms. Sherrod (or, as he claims, exposing racism in the NAACP) unmasks something conniving and desperate about conservative white men who worship the likes of Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, et. al. These men and their followers have become obsessed with painting the Obama White House as one being led by a socialist Muslim Kenyan who practices the teachings of so-called reverse racism. These men, along with their Tea Party activists, are convinced that Obama is on a covert mission to elevate the black race’s position above theirs in society, to take from whites and give to blacks. As we’ve asserted before, the Tea Party movement, in a nutshell, has become about this core group of people feeling like they are losing “their place” in America to the person of color by way of electing a black man as president. And what better way to expose reverse racism ideology in the Obama White House than to exploit a black female bureaucrat who is employed by the White House?
Nevertheless, these men have asserted their power over the White House. Their fear mongering and rantings about Obama and race have the administration tucking their tails between their legs and skirting the issue of race altogether. Noticing any hint of a story that will have racial overtones, the Obama White House retreats and moves in the opposite direction to avoid another Henry Louis Gates moment. Any bit of discomfort that comes with discussing race has Obama shifting nervously on his feet and desperately looking for soothing comments to ease the concerns of skeptical whites he hopes to win over in November.
It would be interesting to see if the Shirley Sherrod fiasco will change the way we think of bloggers and consider the accuracy of their “news.” My hunch tells me that this tide moving in their direction won’t change until the public’s news viewing habits reverts back to preferring traditional sources over online outlets. And I don’t see that happening anytime soon…
For the president and the White House, the Shirley Sherrod affair can and should be used as leverage in openly discussing race with the public. That’s if they can overcome the rising tide of angry white men.