Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod: Victim of the sensational 10 second press clip

Monday night, Fox News aired a video clip of Shirley Sherrod, Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA. In this clip, she relates her hesitance of helping a white farmer. This brief ignited a fire storm, lit by the NAACP, and then put out when the USDA called for her resignation.
There’s one problem here: That little news clip, edited to maximize its sensational value, left off the part where Sherrod spoke out about that was a transformative experience and how she went on to help that white farmer and a lot of other farmers like him and through those experiences learned that race really doesn’t matter.

The source of the original story was . His goal was to shame the NAACP for coming out against the Tea Party so he thought showing a woman talking about racism at a NAACP meeting would do just that. And it worked. Fox News aired the clip, NAACP reacted, Sherrod resigned under pressure from the head of the USDA, and truth once again took a back seat to “headline” news.

Huffington Post has both the original footage and the edited version if you are interested in seeing it for yourself.

To say this is disgusting doesn’t even begin to cover it. We are in a dangerous time when any clip, any photo, any quote can be edited or taken out of context and ruin someone’s life. In Sherrod’s case, this impacted her life, but also all those other farmers that she has helped and could have continued to help.

Right now, the outrage is directed at the Obama Administration, calling for her reinstatement. But where is the outrage towards Fox News? To say what they did was irresponsible is kind. The pressure of the twenty four hour news cycle claims another victim. Unfortunately, I don’t think this irresponsibility is limited to Fox News. I don’t harbor any hope that this phenomena will get any better. In fact, I only think it will get worse. Hopefully, the Administration will right this wrong and give Sherrod her job back. For the larger issue of false reporting, I have no idea how we begin to combat this assault on the truth. If you have any ideas, please let me know.

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