To all who this article may offend, it is written by Ira. I have chosen to publish it because it is the right thing to do. Reporting has gone to the level of “Yellow Journalism” in the past ten years and the people in this country should know that everything you hear is not necessarily true. You must read, research and then make your own opinion. Do not believe everything you hear no matter how much you usually agree with the person making the statement. I believe in free speech, but I do not believe in Yellow Journalism. And, now for Ira’s article unedited by yours truly because I’ve said I will publish well thought out articles regardless of where they are from politically:
For years I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that the way the internet allows most news to be reported almost instantaneously is a mixed blessing at best. Yes we get the information almost as fast as it unfolds but it is often posted so quickly that we really don’t get all the facts. And facts/truth is what a news story SHOULD be all about. In the days before the internet newsmen and woman like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Bernard Shaw and Edward R. Merrow actually spent days researching a story before they would even consider it for airing. They would make sure they had all the necessary facts before they released it to the public.
When I worked at Black Rock, CBS Headquarters in New York, I had the good fortune to bump into Walter Cronkite in the elevator one evening. After several seconds of getting the courage up to speak I asked him what he thought was the most important attributes of a journalist. He smiled and in that wonderfully deep voice said, “Research. If done properly it will always reveal the truth and the truth is what the story is all about. After all every time you go on air it is you they are listening to; it is you they believe in not the TV network, not the radio station or newspaper but you. Integrity is everything for a newsman. Once you lose that it is almost impossible to get it back.”
What a shame today’s crop of “On Air Personalities” don’t subscribe to the same beliefs. Integrity. That’s a word we don’t hear used very much when referring to today’s “News Organizations”. They seem more interested in getting the “story” out first then getting their facts straight. And some even twist and bend the facts to fit their own agendas. Enter the picture…biggovernment.com, a political website which is part of the Andrew Breitbart media group.
Big Government.com released a heavily edited video showing USDA Director of Rural Development in Georgia, Shirley Sherrod, spewing racist’s remarks while speaking at an NAACP banquet. Now this video, taken as is, clearly indicated that Shirley Sherrod has no love for white people and used her position to further this agenda. The Fox News Network picked up the video and ran it on their website. According to the website “Media Matters “ FoxNews.com’s first report on Sherrod reported her statements made in the clip, but gave no indication that it might have been taken out of context. It reported that Fox was “seeking a response from both the NAACP and the USDA,” but not that they had attempted to find the full version of the tape or contact Sherrod herself.
In Fox News’ first on-air mention of Sherrod, Bill O’Reilly aired a portion of the Breitbart-pushed clip, then called her comments “simply unacceptable” and said Sherrod “must resign immediately. In the next hour, Sean Hannity led off with the Sherrod story, which he called “Just the latest in a series of racial incidents.” Fox contributor Newt Gingrich then said that she had displayed a “viciously racist attitude.”
Apparently the USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack felt the same way and asked Sherrod for her resignation. Vilsack went on to say, “There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. We have been working hard through the past 18 months to reverse the checkered civil rights history at the department and take the issue of fairness and equality very seriously.” Sherrod resigned under protest.
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous supported the resignation saying, “According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race,” he said in a statement before Sherrod’s explanation. “We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.”
Then the complete video of Director Sherrod’s speech surfaced and everything really hit the fan. You see that 2 minute edited video left all alone is quite damning but when seen in its entirety presents a much different picture. I have provided a link to both versions decide for yourselves.
So what happened? What always happens with these sorts of things. Someone with a political agenda got creative with the editing program on their computer, sent the finished product to a website that would be sympathetic to the cause, in this case it was BigGovernment.com, and the rest is history, AGAIN. FOX News ran the video WITHOUT CHECKING; USDA’s Tom Vilsack took action WITHOUT CHECKING; NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous commented WITHOUT CHECKING and I wonder how many of you out there had made your minds up about this woman…WITHOUT CHECKING.
Events like this have become the norm more than the exception now a days. So far the only ones to apologize to Sherrod for their part in the deliberate smear campaign are Sherrod’s ex boss Tom Vilsack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous. Fox, as of this moment, is silent and Andrew Breitbart, in an interview with Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert on ABC refused to apologize when he was asked to do so several times by Boehlert. (see my postscript)
Breitbart is who he is. A man who will do almost anything to further his political agenda. Fox on the other hand needs to re evaluate its protocol when deciding what stories it should air. They are, please don’t laugh, supposed to be a “News Organization”. These people, again don’t laugh, are supposed to be professionals who should, alright laugh, know better. Even a first year Journalism Student knows you never, ever run with a story until you checked the facts. It doesn’t matter if you’re first to the finish line if you cheated to get there.
Those words Walter Cronkite said to me so many years ago still ring true today,…
“Integrity is everything for a newsman. Once you lose that it is almost impossible to get it back.”
That’s why Walter Cronkite was known as “The most trusted man in America.” How many news men and woman out their today can make the same claim? It’s a sad testament of the times isn