media-manufactured spectacle that is and was the Shirley
Sherrod incident tells us all we need to know about Andrew
Brietbart, Fox “News” and the dangers of extremist hack
media - unregulated, irresponsible and unethical - run amok.
course, I speak of the firing of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture official, based on a heavily edited video of
a speech she gave at an NAACP event in Georgia. Ms. Sherrod is the
wife of a SNCC cofounder, and she became a civil rights
activist after her father, a black farmer, was lynched by
a white farmer. Ms. Sherrod described how she overcame her
reluctance to give her all in helping a white farmer who
acted superior towards her. In the end, she helped him.
She realized that the issue was not as much about race as
it was about poor whites and poor blacks finding themselves
in the same situation. And good for her.
the doctored-up video, brought to us by conservative blogger
and hatchet man Andrew Breitbart, made Sherrod
appear as if she denied assistance to the white farmer,
end of story. And Breitbart has lots of practice at this
sort of thing, fraud,
that is, as the “person” who introduced to us, via Fox
News, the fabricated ACORN
pimp video that brought down the nonprofit organization.
not as if we should have been surprised this time around,
yet some people were. Many reporters were snookered. The
NAACP was hoodwinked. And most of all, the seemingly invertebrate
Obama administration was so fooled, or scared, or both,
that they fired the woman without due process. I’m sorry,
even worse, they forced Ms. Sherrod to pull over the car
and type her resignation on her blackberry. And as a wise
man once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee -
I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says,
fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can’t
get fooled again.”
watch the lambasting of Shirley Sherrod on Fox News, before
the facts were known, was unbearable. At the same time,
one should not depend on Fox for actual news. You could
conceivably drink a tall glass of soy sauce with dinner
and pretend it is a beverage, but it wasn’t intended for
is safe to say that Fox News, like its movie and television
divisions, is pure entertainment, that is, if you get your
entertainment from a lynchmob.
lynchings in this country once were considered a form of
entertainment by some, believe it or not. Often the victim
- typically a black
man accused of insulting a white woman, or perhaps a
black man having the nerve to wear his army uniform, or
just any black man walking - was beaten, burned, stabbed
or hanged. Often, torture and castration was involved, and
various unspeakable body parts were cut off as souvenirs.
White women and young children were on hand with picnic
baskets to observe in the family-like atmosphere. Railroad
agents even sold
tickets to the events. And frequently among the instigators
and participants were not only lowlife good ol’ boys, but
the community’s business and political leadership.
today’s polarizing political climate with declining journalistic
standards, sloppy fact checking and faltering government
oversight, Fox News serves as the ticket agent to the lynching.
They even handle the promotion and advertising. They participate
in a high-tech media lynching of sorts, somewhat akin to
what Justice Clarence Thomas described at his confirmation
hearings, except that he was (and still is) full of it.
Bush Justice Department under the guidance of Karl Rove,
Fox News and other conservative media decide on a narrative
beforehand, and lie and fabricate to fit that narrative.
The Bush DOJ, stacked with an army of televangelist law
school graduates, pursued imaginary cases of voter
fraud, anti-white voter intimidation and discrimination
against Christians. Those prosecutors who did not comply
Fox is filled with vacuous news models who dutifully read
the scripts prepared for them. The hot topic these days
among the conservative movement is the myth of rampant black
racism against whites, and the truth be damned. This narrative
serves an important purpose for Republicans, which is to
energize the Tea Party base, and kick out the Democrats
in the midterms and in 2012. Then once they impeach Obama,
they’ll finish off the job of ruining the country through
nightmare that Bush came close to fulfilling. It’s that
deep, and yet that simple.
get me wrong, freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. As
a writer, I appreciate the ability to speak and write freely
about this or any other issue. But inciting a lynchmob is
quite another matter. What we’re witnessing is the use of
the media specifically to spread lies, defame, and hurt
groups of people, in this case based on race, solely for
political gain. And that’s downright dangerous and antidemocratic.
Why, that’s the type of thing you would expect from one
of those fascist and communist governments that the ultra-conservatives
so vocally decry, guilty as they are of psychological projection.
without shame, the folks at Fox and others of their ilk
would have done well for themselves under the employ of
a repressive regime. Surely they would have used their media
manipulation skills to publicly dehumanize unpopular groups.
Certainly they would have shaped public opinion by scapegoating
defenseless minorities, thereby paving the way for laws
to make them disappear. And I can’t help but think that
someone such as Glenn Beck, or the troubled, attention-craving,
perpetually angry Breitbart, would have felt at home in
radio station in 1994, inciting violence by encouraging
Hutus to exterminate the Tutsi “cockroaches”.
words? No, harsh people. There’s no telling what they’d
do if given half the chance.
Editor, David A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights
advocate based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to The Huffington
Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service,
In These Times
and Philadelphia Independent
Media Center. He also blogs at davidalove.com,
Salon. Click here
to contact Mr. Love.