The Moral of the Story? At FOX "News," Context – and Reality – Apparently DOES NOT Matter…
Time For "Our" Side to Start Effectively Fighting Back
Posted By: Michael Sweeney
July 22, 2010
This whole ugly mess – dragging an honest, reflective, effective, and trail-blazing official and her name through the dirt for NO GODDAMNED REASON other than imagined, political-points-scoring, philosophy-based race-baiting – is disgusting, illuminating, and, one hopes, a potential certain turning point. For those perhaps late-arriving to all of this, let me fill you in…
Just a few days ago now, right-wing blogger (and self-admitted Arianna Huffington-wannabe) Andrew Breitbart released a video online that appeared to show an African-American woman – who worked in the US Department of Agriculture – speaking to an NAACP gathering about how she had previously denied aid and assistance to a "white farmer" because "he was trying to show me he was superior to me." Well, that WOULD BE officially racist activity and incredibly deplorable (the action AND the seeming "bragging" about it) – HAD IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED THAT WAY. Of course, it did not.
The woman, Shirley Sherrod, has been a career-long crusader to help underprivileged farmers – many times on behalf of Southern African-American farmers, but not solely. Sherrod was hired in August 2009 to be the Georgia director of rural development for the USDA; she was the first black person to fill that position. AND – in a sad bit of history (perhaps "proving" her latent reverse racism for those among the right…but, for those of us with actually-functioning brains. I’d like to think it more clearly shows her capability for forgiveness, learning, and reality) – when she was 17 years old (in 1965, in Georgia), her father, who was a deacon at a local church, was shot and killed by a white farmer, reportedly over a cattle dispute; no charges were returned against the shooter by an all-white grand jury. She has called this a turning point in her life, leading her to want to stay in the South and try to help bring about societal change.
…And that edited Breitbart clip? It was a precisely misleading snip job from a speech in which Sherrod shared the lesson she learned that to have denied the white farmer her full assistance would’ve been very wrong. The full, unaltered video shows Sherrod talk proudly and wisely about how she ended up enabling the Spooner family to save their farm – and, in fact, she remains close friends with the family today, some 20+ years later. (For more details on the embarrassingly childish allegedly grown man Breitbart, check out this profile of him in The New Yorker from May; an "empire of bluster" is what the piece calls his raging, inaccurate attempts to counter the left-leaning news-and-blogging efforts of Huffington Post and The Daily Kos.)
Well, news leaked that Glenn Beck was going to feature a piece on the video and Sherrod’s alleged "racism" against whites…and either the USDA, Ag Sec’y Tom Vilsack, and / or the White House put the pre-reactive pressure on and Sherrod was forced to resign her post. (She was driving at the time she got the call…and the demand was so immediate, that she had to pull over and send her resignation via her handheld device that very moment,) So…absolutely no credit goes to OUR side here – the Administration DEFINITELY should have analyzed things and fought back with reality…or, fer chrissakes, just waited until SOMEBODY saw the full, unedited version of the video, before they called for the poor woman’s head. But..at least the NAACP (which had reacted to the original news), Vilsack, Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and the White House have ALL apologized (fairly profusely) to Sherrod, calling her an undeserving and unfortunate victim of left-right, white-black, FOX-the real world sniping.
And speaking of FOX…well, whatta surprise. A bunch of ‘em, actually: They continued to let Breitbart spin his crap on their air (he claims to have not edited the clip AND didn’t know it was edited, says it still shows that the NAACP audience was racist, and decries any attempt to lay responsibility with him; of course, he has yet to apologize to Ms. Sherrod)…and they used the overall story to imply that racism is what drives the Obama Administration (oh, they sure LOVE scaring up their mainly elderly, homebound white audience over there at FOX News!)…and then, as the truth emerged and their desired narrative splintered, wanted to keep pointing at the disarray (about a lie! that they helped disseminate!) surrounding the incident as proof of incompetence at the White House. So…lemme see – make up the news, then make up the reaction to it, too; that’s a damned busy spin of the news cycle! It’s a wonder somebody over there doesn’t get whiplash…(Except maybe Shepard Smith, who blasted his own network’s coverage of the eating-its-own-tail story, saying on-air that "we do not and did not trust the source" behind it; uh, coming soon – "The Report with Shepard Smith" on CNN or MSNBC!)
So…the results are as follows: Shirley Sherrod got tons of (well-deserved) apologies; she will get SOME job (probably with a promotion) back. Breitbart, Beck (who himself went all Janus-faced, slamming the "racist" Sherrod on his afternoon radio broadcast, then defending her against Admin incomps on his evening TV show), and FOX showed themselves to be not-so-much on the "news," but heavy on the editing-and-altering-facts-to-fit-the-story-we-WANT-to-tell kinda "fiction". (You know – in other words, business as usual over there at Murdoch-and-Ailes World Headquarters…) The White House initially (and pitiably) turned tail and ran, seemingly in fear of Glenn Beck. (Let THAT one sink in – they let the strict, hate-spewing, gold-peddling ENEMY define the terms of the battle and then DIDN’T EVEN TRY to fight back with the GODDAMNED TRUTH?!? Yeah, it woulda been like the Bush administration pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan in ’04 in fear of the imminent release of a Michael Moore movie…) (Although, all things considered, I guess Moore is kinda lucky that Dick Cheney didn’t order some sorta VP Ghost Squad to sneak in to Michigan and off him in his sleep ‘round about the "Fahrenheit 9/11" period…)
…BUT – and it’s a big one – here’s hopin’ that the President and his brain guys-and-gals learned a little something from all this and won’t let the rabid righty yappers (Beck, Rush, O’Reilly), scribblers (Breitbart, Kristol), and even politicians (Palin, Bachmann, the Mitt3000 Robot, the Newtster) continue to define the terms about what gets discussed and why. The healthcare AND Wall St. reforms were INCREDIBLE achievements…but don’t rest there. Keep up the positive pressure. And, when necessary, fight back…Hell, get a permanent "Truth Squad" of feisty Dem back-fighters assembled to immediately answer the pure shit flowing out of the FOX-GOP combo pack. Start with Dr. Howard Dean, James Carville, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Reps. Alan Grayson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and maybe Sen. Jim Webb (rightward of my tastes, but...strong on military issues and an unafraid verbal brawler) and let ‘em have at the other side. (Man, and I wish Molly Ivins was still with us…AND a 25-year-younger Studs Terkel, too…And can you imagine what a proud, sharp, witheringly-smart NY-dwelling "immigrant" like John Lennon could’ve added to all these debates about war and borders and finances and racism? Man-oh-man!)
…The time has come to stand up more solidly for what we believe in. They may be "Right" – but we are CORRECT…and fair and honest and optimistic - and CURRENTLY IN CHARGE!!!. Shirley Sherrod got unnecessarily roughed up over this crap, but…she seems to have made it out the other side relatively unharmed. The next person will likely be just as innocent (or misunderstood or manipulated or misheard), but might not be so lucky.
They wanna fight over there? Time to stop turning the other cheek and give ‘em what WE got, be it brains, ballots, voices, or fists…Yeah, I said "fists," too – put ‘em up!
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