As of this writing, Shirley Sherrod, the black USDA official who was hastily fired following the posting of an out-of-context video by Andrew Breitbart is reportedly inclined to decline a new job offer from an administration with egg on its face.
But, when it comes to egg on the face, this story is an all-you-can-eat media and political buffet.
As you no doubt know by now, the total video reveals a far different picture of a woman who was somewhat bravely reflecting on her own reverse racism regarding a case involving a white farmer from years earlier — a man she was not predisposed to help. She credits God with helping her see the light and lead her to, in fact, do all she could to help him. A fact corroborated by the farmer himself on CNN.
A MediaMatters timeline documents how the Breitbart video swept the internet like wildfire. That was enough to cause a nervous agriculture secretary (who denies he was under pressure from the White House and who later apologized) to quickly move to force her resignation without due process.
Fox News, while carrying the story online throughout the day, did not hit the cable airwaves with the story until prime time when Bill O’Reilly devoted about half a minute of his Reality Check segment to the most inflammatory part of the video. O’Reilly weighed in in favor of her ouster and has also since apologized saying he should have looked into it further before running with it.
Other Fox News shows dealt with the story that night — as did the NAACP which supported her ouster before reconsidering after fully reviewing the evidence.
Now, that the facts have come to light, we have another one of those teachable moments that keep piling up without, apparently, teaching us anything.
The conservative wing of the media (on the internet, talk radio and Fox News) ran way too quickly with a story that seemed to support the narrative of reverse discrimination in the Obama administration — particularly coming on the heels of questions regarding the Justice Department’s handling of a caught-on-tape alleged voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panthers.
How much you know about that case depends on the narrative your news provider is pushing. For what it’s worth, in responding to reader concerns, the ombudsman at the Washington Post has deemed the story to be legitimate and worthy of mainstream media attention.
Probably because of that case, the Obama Administration (at least its Agriculture Department) was much to fast on the draw in seek Sherrod’s ouster, no questions asked.
Most inexplicable was the NAACP’s initial eagerness to jump on the bandwagon — particularly since the video in question came from one of their events and they had it in their possession the whole time, rendering NAACP President Ben Jealous’ claim that he group was “snookered” by Fox News a bit ridiculous.
If we were all to actually learn something from this incident (doubtful) it might be to slow down and think before reacting to the latest video that happens to support the narrative we have come to believe (and, therefore, are always looking to corroborate).
This is certainly a lesson for those prone to believe the worst of the Obama Administration.
Here’s one, for those who cringe at the very mention of the Tea Party movement (affectionately known by their detractors as Tea Baggers). The leftist organization Think Progress has created a video allegedly demonstrating racism by Tea Party demonstration participants — except that at one of those shown was plucked from another video which clearly shows the clown being shunned by the other demonstrators. It was a fact that didn’t seem to matter to the video’s creator — and clearly casts doubt over the validity of the overall piece.
BTW, if you freeze frame at 00:12 you can see an almost subliminal camera shot linking an obvious Glenn Beck supporter with the racist speaking. You can bet MSNBC would be all over that one if Breitbart did that to Keith Olbermann.
But my point is not to seek tit-for-tat examples of people on the left and right taking things out of context but to suggest that a little information can be a dangerous thing — especially when we agree with it.