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Because It Fit the Narrative

July 24th, 2010

How Fox “reported” on Sheryl Sherrod without any of these “journalists” or supposedly even halfway semi-responsible people (a) checking the context of the tape to make sure it wasn’t distorted, or (b) contacting her to get her comment before running wild with the story:

The fact that they did neither of these things proves (again) that this is not a “news” organization reporting the facts, but rather a propaganda outlet trying to create a narrative.

Not that this is any kind of surprise, of course, or that the stark clarity of their status demonstrated by this example will cause them for one moment to stop pretending.

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  1. stevetv
    July 25th, 2010 at 00:11 | #1

    Yes, and it’s very telling that the administration neglected to do the same things Fox News neglected to do before forcing Sherrod’s resignation, and they should be called out on it as well, perhaps even more so. It’s a great representation of how cowardly Obama, his administration and the Democratic party are before the right wing noise machine, and how willing they are to abandon the high road whenever it’s politically expedient. Their treatment of Dawn Johnsen is another, maybe even worse, example.

  2. Luis
    July 25th, 2010 at 01:00 | #2


    In a perfect world, you’re exactly right. To fire someone on such flimsy grounds without checking the veracity of the accusations when the source is inexcusable. Even in an imperfect world, it’s still wrong. But while not defensible, it is understandable. Sadly, it is what the GOP and the right-leaning and ratings-hungry media have made it: a shooting gallery where you sometimes have to cut your losses quickly or else you get clobbered, and badly. Not that I defend Vilsack–it was absolutely the wrong decision, and it appears that he’s eating crow big-time, likely forced to by Obama (not that Obama would likely have been nearly as upset with Vilsack had the accusations proven true).

    But Steve, your point misses a very sad reality in American politics today: neither the GOP nor the media would have given the administration enough time to do the full checks. For them, it was probably less about who did what and more about what would cause the least damage and disruption to the administration and its work. Even though the administration fired Sherrod in a very short time, Fox, Limbaugh, and a host of right-wingers were already in full-swing attack mode, scoring points and sliming the administration.

    Let’s not pretend here–had the administration held on to Sherrod for a few more days, the GOP would have spent all of that time bashing the administration and calling them racists and worse, and because neither the full tape or any evidence to the contrary would be available, the media would eat it up and give it full play, and millions would believe the hype and ignore pleas from the administration to wait for all the facts, instead buying the inevitable GOP line that Obama was harboring racists and not firing her because she was black. Even with later exoneration, the damage would be done.

    Again, I do not defend it–but it is arguable that from a higher perspective, it was–as you put it–the politically expedient thing to do. But let’s not pretend that the GOP or the media was not forcing their hand to a very strong degree, and also have responsibility for making it happen–it is what they were screaming to have happen, after all.

    As for Obama being cowardly, you are assuming quite a bit. It is highly questionable, even very unlikely, that Obama had any hand in the firing. More likely is was Vilsack, and perhaps people on Obama’s staff. But I seriously doubt, with everything that’s going on, that stuff at this level is really brought to the level of executive decisions. Nevertheless, he was responsible–and he immediately apologized.

    And on that tack, let’s not forget that Obama, Vilsack, and the administration in general have apologized to Sherrod, offered her her job back and more, and has admitted openly and very publicly that what it did was wrong.

    Breitbart, on the other hand, lamely asserted that he was attacking the NAACP and not Sherrod, as if that somehow made presenting libelous accusations was not a problem. And while Bill O’Reilly–couched within a barrage of attacks at Obama, liberal media, and even Sherrod herself–apologized, neither Fox itself nor the other shows that slammed her and the Obama administration and the NAACP have done so. Glenn Beck made a big deal about how he wasn’t one of the ones attacking Sherrod and that he actually defended her–but he in fact played the edited clip and attacked Sherrod on his radio show when the story first broke, and only after she was asked to resign did he talk about context–and only then so he could attack Obama.

    Instead, conservatives have turned on a dime and instead of blasting Obama, the NAACP, and Sherrod, they are now blasting Obama and the NAACP for doing exactly what they demanded be done in regards to Sherrod. Like you, they are quickly admitting to the false reporting (not calling it that, of course) but then making the biggest deal about the administration’s reaction. But they are not taking responsibility for what they did wrong.

    Yes, what the administration to Sherrod was wrong–but let’s not be so disingenuous as to pretend like the Obama administration were the main bad guys here. This was a perfect example of political game-playing at the slimiest level: conservatives could not but win on this, big-time. They lie and smear; if the administration dod not fire her immediately, they would get a few days of non-stop, highly-corrosive attack played 24/7 in the news media, and the evidence showing up the lie would not have been paid as much attention to. But since the administration did fire Sherrod prematurely, they now get to pretend like they did nothing really wrong but it was the administration that was wrong. They win both ways, despite the fact that they were the ones who lied, smeared, and forced hands.

    And they said Clinton was slick.

    July 26th, 2010 at 14:45 | #3

    The three laws of thermodynamics:

    First: you cannot win, you can only get even.
    Second: you can only get even a zero degrees Kelvin.
    Tird: you cannot reach zero degrees Kelvin.

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