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CNN’s “teachable moment” in their coverage of Breitbart

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:51 am - July 30, 2010.
Filed under: Media Bias,New Media,Random Thoughts

There was a time, say about a quarter-century ago (and more), when CNN was the new media. Today (or was it yesterday), when I was pushing myself on the Stairmaster (or Elliptical Trainer), I looked up to see the “news” network running a piece on Shirley Sherrod, portraying her, as it were, as a martyr against the sloppy reporting of right-wing bloggers.

Now, I didn’t see the whole segment — it may not even have been a segment, may just have been a promo — so I write only to make an observation not to arrive at a conclusion. But, from what I’ve observed on CNN since this story broke is an attempt to jump on Andrew Breitbart (as a representative of the new conservative media) and apologize for traditional media.

And yet, in their rush to demonize Breitbart, the folks at CNN as well as their cohorts in the MSM, lose sight of the incredible complexity of this story.

Indeed, a story of this complexity leads to a difference of views between my co-blogger and myself.  From the very breaking of this story and throughout its “trajectory”, we have not seen eye to eye on this matter.  I do think he was right to apologize, but cut him more slack than he did.

I would rather he hadn’t taken back his apology (but I do appreciate the traffic that post generated 🙂 ), just wish he had walked it back a bit or at least qualified it instead of withdrawing it all together).  Still, on one key issue, he’s right.  This is a complex story.

And Andrew Breitbart, while clearly not guilty of malfeasance, did blunder in his initial release of the video; he should have (as per the Anchoress) said he would like to see the rest of the video before rendering a final judgment on Ms. Sherrod.

Now, while I agree that Breitbart had blundered in not so qualifying the initial posting. I believe those in the media who are attacking him are using the occasion not to address the error per se, but to try to bring him down because his work has threatened their enterprise — and the power they once enjoyed to set the national agenda.

No one (at least not in any post or article) has provided any evidence that Breitbart had seen the rest of her speech when he first released the segment, that is, they can’t show, but can only surmise, that he heavily edited the original or deliberately withheld any evidence related to Ms. Sherrod’s work in the particular case she addressed (in that video).  Unless they back up their allegations with evidence of his intent to deceive, they’re guilty of the same kinds of slander they accuse him of committing.

She may not be the racist she appeared to be in the initial segment, but she is far from a martyr and far from an exemplary public servant.  Let’s hope CNN looks into some of her more troubling statements, attitudes and lawsuits.

And perhaps the network’s executives will see this as a teaching moment of how the once novel network has become little more than an echo chamber as its anchors and reporters parrot the notions and persist in the prejudices of their peers in broadcast news rooms.

RELATED: Shirley Sherrod doesn’t have a case against Andrew Breitbart.

UPDATE:  Seems my cursory glances at the TV monitor prevented me from hearing Anderson Cooper’s mea culpa:

On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper faulted himself for not pressing Shirley Sherrod when she appeared on the show back on July 22 and claimed that conservative Andrew Breitbart was a “vicious” racist who “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”

Cooper now says he should have challenged Sherrod to support such an inflammatory charge with facts: “I believe in admitting my mistakes….I didn’t challenge her that night and I should have.”



  1. There was a time, say about a quarter-century ago (and more), when CNN was the new media.

    They served Forward Observers for Iraq’s artillery. Can’t remember what it was, but a responder to the ValuJet 592 disaster told me that CNN was booted out of the Everglades for something. I think it was for reporting there were survivors or something.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 30, 2010 @ 4:33 am - July 30, 2010

  2. go find the FULL video…after the story AB posted, she is back to race baiting.
    Also, as AB pointed out, she was not the sole target of the psting. The Crowd, NAALCP members were agreeing with her racist leanings. She was getting applause and words of support before the Mea Culpa portion. That was what AB was pointing out. Not just her “racism”, but that of the supportive crowd of like minded liberals. The retraction of the apology was well in tune with the situation. She is still a racist it seems. She seems to know this (hence the mea culpa portion of the story), but she isn’t working on getting over it at all.

    Comment by JP — July 30, 2010 @ 4:47 am - July 30, 2010

  3. The question I haven’t heard asked was what was the motivation of the source of the video.

    Say AB is correct. First he got the edited video, then the full video. What did the source seek to accomplish with that bit of gotcha classism?

    Comment by ksevens — July 30, 2010 @ 6:17 am - July 30, 2010

  4. If you watch Obama much at all, you will note that his “summer of recovery” tour is all a campaign before the carefully arranged choir and never is he challenged or challenging. Fine. Politics as usual.

    I have spent my adult lifetime in meetings with people who play to the choir. Sherrod may have been carrying a morality tale to the choir in hopes of changing their view. However, when you watch the whole speech you see a sort of bio-pic of ongoing struggle with “the man” and endless victimization.

    She had a real opportunity to deliver a clear, unambiguous message. She took the low road.

    Breitbart claims the video was aimed at showing the NAACP as bigots. Some say he shifted gears fast when the “context” tape and Sherrod’s explanation came out. Who knows? I certainly do not.

    When I watched the initial snip right here, I saw the head bobbing and mumbled agreement that accompanies so many race baiting artists like Sharpton, Jackson, Wright and minor community agitators across the land.

    The fact is that the NAACP has done nothing about the destruction of the strong black male or the fact of miserable parenting of so many or the crime and depravity in so many government run ghettos. They are not a think tank in any stretch of the imagination. They are a blame whitey first organization that pimps for more government money.

    So, do you really expect their members to be above the level of the choir? If Sherrod was there to shake up the choir, she sure did a lousy job.

    The time has come to throw off the burden of white guilt when these race sharks come nipping.

    I can take you into black homes across this country where the values, stability, education, achievement, belief system, etc are the equal to any of the white neighbors. None of those blacks belong to the NAACP or credit it with providing them with a single thing.

    Blacks are beginning to leave the plantation in large numbers. They are turning their backs on the NAACP and the democrats. They look at the Sherrods and they see the same old government employees playing the skin color game.

    My city government paid me to help black police men and women to pass the sergeant’s exam. Time and time again, I discovered I was charged with making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The problem was that those with smarts and ambition passed the exam without any special tutoring and those who needed special tutoring were largely too dull to absorb it. There are plenty of whites, Hispanics, Asians etc. to keep them company.

    This is a long ramble away from CNN and Sherrod, but it is all the same story. More money, more attention, more effort will usually pay off in small ways and sometimes in huge ways. But the politics of race is a dead end street.

    Booker T. Washington discovered the formula for success early and wrote the seminal book on the topic.

    If you really care about race, take yourself to a local grade school and arrange to mentor a “disadvantaged” student of your choosing. Work daily and keep at it through thick and thin for a dozen or so years. You may be disappointed, but at least you will have made an honest effort.

    Giving a race larded speech to the NAACP is chump work.

    Comment by heliotrope — July 30, 2010 @ 9:38 am - July 30, 2010

  5. “he should have (as per the Anchoress) said he would like to see the rest of the video before rendering a final judgment on Ms. Sherrod.”

    I disagree that this was the actual intent. Breitbart never received the entire tape. He would have to ask the NAACP for it, which I doubt will release it to Breitbart with the knowledge of who he is. He took the original exerpt and ran it. I think it is entirely appropriate since his target is the NAACP and not Sherrod.

    The fallout proves the judging was by the the race baiters, not Breitbart. The White House and NAACP targeted Sherrod initially. This reduces the credibility of all race baiters.

    Comment by Anon387823 — July 30, 2010 @ 10:09 am - July 30, 2010

  6. Helio – excellent short essay!!! I used to recruit for the University of California back in the days when everyone believed that minorities didnt get accepted into this educational system “kept them down.” Guess what, the pool of individuals capable with all the bells and whistles (mentoring, tutoring, etc.) couldnt keep those without the ability in the University of Californa. Turned out, the Bell Curve actually got it right. The capable make it while those that are not, do not.

    Comment by killiteten - Native Intelligence — July 30, 2010 @ 11:09 am - July 30, 2010

  7. I will not join the crowd that is trying to be ‘fair’ by saying that Brietbart was wrong in posting the clip.
    Sorry, for years now we’ve only see the ‘clips’ the media wants us to see. For instance, man with riffle at obama rally – media tells us it’s about killing blacks, turns out gun holder is black.

    So Brietbart plays by the same rules, and suddenly we have to jump down his throat. I understand the media doesn’t play fair, but clearly demanding that only the Right play by the rules only gives more power to the left.

    If being in the media today means selling your own version of events and trying to reshape the narrative, so be it, let both sides play that game.

    Comment by Leah — July 30, 2010 @ 11:25 am - July 30, 2010

  8. Well, Leah, the one thing Breitbart did accomplish was getting liberal pundits et al. to scream context and to show how the NAACP and Administration rushed to do damage control before considering said context.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — July 30, 2010 @ 12:41 pm - July 30, 2010

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GayPatriot and Sister Toldjah, DNC Fail!. DNC Fail! said: CNN’s “teachable moment” in their coverage of Breitbart #tcot #tlot […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention GayPatriot » CNN’s “teachable moment” in their coverage of Breitbart -- — July 30, 2010 @ 2:21 pm - July 30, 2010

  10. Is it still a ‘teachable’ moment when the teacher would appear to be the one needing the Dunce Cap? Who actually watches CNN anyway?

    Comment by Delusional Bill — July 30, 2010 @ 2:36 pm - July 30, 2010

  11. I’m going to go ahead here and assume that the influx of unhinged lefties we’ve seen in the last couple of days has now proven itself a temporary, albeit amusing anomaly. 🙂

    Comment by Eric in Chicago — July 30, 2010 @ 3:50 pm - July 30, 2010

  12. eric, the DNC just got some union thugs to try to support this inept administration.
    oil spills. terror attacks, leaked military info, state dinners, racial tension, leakey borders, unemployment, wasted “stimulus”, Rangel, Dems punching journalists, Pelosis swamp, Trillions in debt, no press conferences, Obama on the view, another vacation, one of the three unemployed is a felon who stood next to Obama,
    it’s all indefenseable.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — July 30, 2010 @ 4:27 pm - July 30, 2010

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