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How the 24/7 News cycle Destroyed JournalismPosted Sunday, July 25, 2010, at 5:34 PM
I had not planned on writing again until some time in August but the more and more this story plays out the more and more it becomes clear that truthful honest journalism is a thing of the past in the United States. For that reason I felt a need to write about this sad, pathetic case of "journalism" in our country's history.
I speak of course of the situation regarding Shirley Sherrod. The sad soul by the name of Andrew Breitbart (he calls himself an investigative journalist, he is the furthest thing from) put a clip on his website that apparently showed Mrs. Sherrod talking about how she was able to pull an act of reverse racism on a white farmer almost three decades ago.
What Breitbart did not show on his website was the entire video which clearly showed Sherrod using the episode as an antecdote about how she realized that what she was doing was just as bad as white racism against blacks. She ended up helping that white farmer keep his farm.
But for two days on one major network (the one that loves to continually pump it's ratings over everyone else when they are criticized) immediately condemned her and called on President Obama to force her to resign. Bill O'Reilly went on his "Number 1 Show" and demanded that she resigned, after she had already resigned.
She was forced to resign from the USDA even as she was privately and publicly stating that the video on Breitbart's website was not the entire video and she was being taken out of context.
A day after she resigned the full length video came to light and showed the United States exactly what she had been telling everyone was there. She was describing a time where she had purposely delayed a farmer getting assistance because of his skin color. When she realized what she had done she immediately did everything to help him keep his farm.
The news media should have been ashamed at the cutthroat way they had gone after this woman. They had committed the largest journalism sin you can commit. They did not investigate the source of the video. They did no investigative reporting of their own. They trusted the source of the video. History, especially with this sorry excuse for a human should have told them otherwise.
Andrew Breitbart came to light in 2009 when he went on Fox News attempting to discredit the group ACORN and throw reverse racism charges at them (this is just a disturbing path he is going on to convince people that black people are racist). He showed several videos showing him as a pimp and one of his producers as one of his prostitutes getting help from ACORN in how to circumnavigate the law. But his videos were complete fabrications. Most of the shots shown on Fox News that he supposedly shot he never actually shot and was not even in the room for the shooting. He had lied to make a name for himself and what's worse ruined the reputation of a decent group that helped those less privileged get the help they needed. The group no longer exists. Fox News ended up being embarrassed by the whole exercise so one would think that they would actually stay away from Breitbart in the future. Or at the very least actually investigate his video before putting it all over their network as actual news.
But here is the twist. Ever since the full video has come out Fox News has been trying their hardest to blame Obama for them not doing their jobs. When called out they get defensive. Bill O'Reilly upon being criticized by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC for not researching the video first simply defended himself by once again declaring that he had the number one show in America.
Keith Oblermann of MSNBC did a lengthy Special Comment on his show about the whole incident where he went after all of news cable (not just Fox News) and also went after President Obama and the USDA for forcing her to resign before ANY of the facts were in. Glenn Beck's response to Olbermann? Mockery.
Andrew Breitbart has even come out and declared that he was a victim of some supposed witch hunt against him. He has divorced himself from any responsibility at all for what he did and blames everyone else.
So what have the hosts and the networks and the talking heads that were fullish enough to tout the video from the very beginning done since they were embarrassed? They have blamed everyone else for their mistake. Mostly they have fully blamed Obama and somehow left Breitbart out of it.
In their effort to get a news story first the 24/7 networks threw a woman's career under the bus just so they could have a scandal. The same thing happened last November when Tiger Woods had his very famous run in with his wife. When the news first broke, Fox and NBC were reporting that he had been in a very serious wreck and was close to death. When the truth came out that he had not even been in an accident and only in the hospital for a short while they offered no retraction.
Just as in that case the 24/7 news cycle did all they could to get a story. In their effort they ruined a woman's life and painted her as something they are not. Maybe a more important snapshot of today's America is that not a single one of them, not Fox News, not Bill O'Reilly, not Glenn Beck, not Newt Gingrich, and especially the slimeball Breitbart who will never apologize for any of his lies have apologized for what they have said or what they demanded. Instead they blame other people.
Whatever happened to the simple apology? How hard is it for these grown men who ganged up on a woman because they believed it would spell political problems for President Obama to just admit that they were wrong for what they did? There is one thing I have noticed in my short time on this Earth, Americans are willing to forgive. It may not be immediate but they will forgive if a famous person is truly contrite for a wrong they have done.
Unfortunately all these men are teaching the children in this country is never apologize, and never NEVER admit that you are wrong. If you are caught point the finger at someone else, anyone else and hope to God that people forget that you screwed up. But above all else, when it comes to journalism, never investigate your sources or do your own research. If someone gives you a story and says that it is trustworthy just run with it.
I rarely watch any of the news cable channels anymore because most of the stories that they run end up being wrong on some point.
But that is what they are teaching our children on a daily basis, step on anyone and everyone if it will prop you up.
I keep hoping that they will apologize for what they have done to Mrs. Sherrod, but I am not holding my breath. President Obama has not only publicly but privately apologized to her. The head of the USDA that demanded her resignation has not only apologized but offered her another job within the USDA. But nothing from the ones that started the whole episode. All they care about is making themselves appear the victims.
What sad, sorry souls they are.
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