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Jul. 24 2010 - 12:27 pm | 218 views | 1 recommendation | 7 comments

Enough already with the ’teachable moment’

With the drama of Shirley Sherrod having been played out far more quickly than the mainstream media would have liked, the focus has now turned to the question, “What is the teachable moment to be found in this unfortunate experience?”

Let’s answer the question so we can get this over with and move on to Charlie Rangel, the next distraction sure to capture our undivided attention while derailing the White House from focusing on jobs for yet another week or more.

There was no “teachable moment.”

Is there anyone out there who did not already know that Fox News, Breitbart, and others of their ilk would pollute and twist a story in order to better meet their political objectives? Because if this comes as a revelation to you, than you simply haven’t been paying attention and any teachable moment will likely be fully lost on you.

Is there anyone out there who did not know that when it comes to both the right wing agenda and the defensive political stance of this Administration, an intelligent, effective and well-meaning woman like Shirley Sherrod is completely expendable?

Two words  - Van Jones.

When Glenn Beck and company went after Mr. Jones, also an effective and highly capable member of the White House staff, the White House folded like a cheap suit and sent Mr. Jones packing. Obviously, that ‘teachable moment’ didn’t result in any accumulation of knowledge given the Administration’s willingness to throw Ms. Sherrod under the bus. She – like Jones – was politically inconvenient and, thus, completely expendable.  So, exactly what is it that we are to learn from the current experience that we failed to pick up on during the last such event?

Is there anyone out there who did not know that this White House has a tendency to freak out when it comes to issues regarding race and react without all the facts? Two more words – Beer Summit.

Did anything happen this week that revealed something new about race in America and those who would exploit it in the effort to attack –by proxy- the nation’s first black president while, at the same time, revealing this administration’s tendencies to fumble the ball when race is the issue?

A nation polarized by ideological politics has little interest in teachable moments -unless the teacher is an approved source of knowledge and information for your particular way of thinking. If you believe in the truth of Fox News, than you very likely feel exactly the same after Sherrod as you did before Sherrod. If the truth for you comes from the mouth of Keith Olbermann, same result. Nothing will have changed for you having lived through the week that was.

As for those without the commitment to one ideology or the other, let’s face it – most are not listening.

And those who are listening probably already knew to beware of Andrew Breitbart and his propensity for dishonest journalism, the political weakness of this White House when it comes to such issues, the state of race relations in America, and how people will hurt a nice woman in Georgia when these people -whatever side they play for – perceive it to be of benefit to their own personal goals and desires.

I will, however, admit to learning one thing.

CNN’s Kyra Phillips is not very bright.

Phillips’ ‘teachable moment’ led her to the conclusion that bloggers need to be legally regulated, despite the fact that her own cable TV news organization is not.

Appearing on CNN with co-anchor and her husband-to-be, John Roberts, Phillips had this to say –

There’s going to have be a point in time where these people have to be held accountable. How about all these bloggers that blog anonymously? They say rotten things about people and they’re actually given credibility, which is crazy. They’re a bunch of cowards, they’re just people seeking attention.

What is amazing about this comment is that were we to take out the words, “anonymous bloggers”, I would have assumed Phillips was discussing on-air television and radio “news” reporters and talkers such as herself.

Phillips continues-

…there’s going to come a point where something’s going to have to be done legally about anonymous bloggers… There has to be some point where there’s some accountability. And companies, especially in the media have to stop giving these anonymous bloggers credit.
Via Business and Media

Again, take out ‘anonymous blogger’ and insert ‘cable news’. It fits to a tee.

While I too disapprove of bloggers who take shots and don’t put their name on their handy work, I also disapprove of clearly identified bloggers, like Mr. Breitbart, who lie and disparage people unfairly just as I disapprove of TV and radio talkers who do the same. Did Ms. Phillips forget that Nancy Grace works for the same network that employs Ms. Phillips and her fiancé as did Glenn Beck before he was lured away by Fox? Did Ms. Phillips forget her own network’s propensity to spend 45 minutes out of an hour covering such important ‘news’ as Michael Jackson’s troubles du jour, airplanes landing at Atlanta’s airport with a blown tire (a complete non story as they always land without incident) and Phillips’ own memorable broadcast from the bathroom where she trashed her sister-in-law on an open mike during a broadcast?

I suspect that Ms. Sherrod is actively taking a look at her legal opportunities to “regulate” Mr. Breitbart by way of a law suit based on slander. Let him have to pay her a few million bucks and I think he’ll have his teachable moment.

As for Kyra, might I suggest that what she took from this week would be of greater value when applied to her own business and industry. Clean up cable-tv news and then you come and clean up our business. 


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  1. collapse expand

    So what we learned was CNN is O.K. with liars and slanderers if they attach an identity to their poison. Sounds like Glen Beck can go multi-platform with his rage. The rest of US must make concessions to our constitutional rights. Very egalitarian. They can goP in their boots. And I’m not anonymous.

  2. collapse expand

    The thing about “anonymous bloggers” that’s so misplaced is that it has nothing to do with the issue at hand: Andrew Breitbart does not blog anonymously. As someone who does blog in general anonymity, I’m offended by Phillips’ assertion that anonymity serves as some magical shield to issue attacks. No one who can influence the national conversation as Breitbart has, is likely to remain anonymous for long. And I’d say many anonymous bloggers, because we do prefer not to become the story, actually work harder to get the story right and to shy away from extremism, personal attacks, and deliberate misrepresentations of fact. Ms. Phillips is right that they should be some sort of legal recourse for someone like Shirley Sherrod… and that’s why I tend to hope that she’ll pursue a suit against Breitbart, which could help serve as a benchmark for where to draw the line on deliberate errors of fact that do damage to a person’s reputation. The point being… anonymity isn’t the issue here. Lying is.

  3. collapse expand

    The issue is not anonymity. It is integrity and honesty. Breitbart used the clip of Sherrod because it revealed what he wanted it to reveal. He may have done this with the intent of deception. He may have deceived himself into thinking that this was a responsible thing to do. He admits, himself, that he didn’t watch the entire speech. This is obviously someone who decides what “reality” is and then adjusts the facts to fit this, and to fit his own ambitions.

    The Van Jones thing was also an abomination. His editorial regarding this debacle is in the NYtimes and is worth reading….. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/opinion/25jones.html?ref=opinion

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