So when are we going to learn that lesson?
It is my sincerest hope that the current fracas over Shirley Sherrod will lead people, especially the current Administration, that Fox News is not a news organization. Fox “Noise” is, at best, a collection of commentators who are do not hesitate to lie, distort and destroy worthwhile organization or innocent individuals to extend its political narrative.
The current hullaballoo has to do with the “dirt” dug up by Andrew Breitbart reported that USDA official Shirley Sherrod admitted on video to using racist standards in deciding whether or not to help a white farmer save his farm. You remember Breitbart. He’s the guy responsible for launching the ACORN scandal, supposedly uncovering the community organizer’s proclivity for extending help to pimps, prostitutes and sex slavers. The ACORN story was picked up by Fox News and plastered across the political landscape without so much as a peak behind the curtains to determine if the accusations were true. As a result, ACORN was defunded by an unconstitutional bill of attainder and went belly up. The accusations against ACORN were eventually investigated and determined to be false. The claims were made based on nothing more than selectively and creatively edited gotcha video that distorted the truth for the sake of political espionage.
So when Breitbart released video of Shirley Sherrod admitting to being a racist, what else could Fox Noise do but
jump on the video as an unflinching example of racism in the Obama Administration. After all, with Breitbart’s reputation what could possibly go wrong?
Responding to Fox News (yes, I said responding to Fox News!) the NAACP called for Sherrod’s dismissal from the USDA. The NAACP could not take the chance of pandering to a black racist after making a big stink about the Tea Party refusing to distance itself from white racists. That would be hypocritical. Indeed it would. But the NAACP should have considered the sourceFox News and Andrew Breitbartbefore taking a position on this matter. They didn’t. What were they thinking? That Fox News is a legitimate news source?
So what could go wrong? The full video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech was uncovered and, to its credit, released by the NAACP. It turns out that when you listen to the whole speech in context, rather than the selected version presented by Breitbart and Fox News, she isn’t admitting to racism at all. In fact, she’s recalling a tale of how she overcame her own racial stereotypes when confronted with the prospects of helping a white farmer. The theme of the speech is that it is not about race, it’s about poverty. The white farmer was interviewed and credited Sherrod for helping him save his farm. This was a story about personal growth, not personal prejudice.
After watching the full video, NAACP president Benjamin Jealous claimed to have been “snookered” by Fox News. Snookered? Really? At this point can any thinking human being be snookered by this organization? Time and again, from “the war on Christmas” to “death panels” “ACORN” “climategate” Fox has demonstrated they cannot be counted on to furnish news and certainly can never be confused as being Fair and Balanced. So why is it that groups like the NAACP and even the Obama Administration continue to react to the stories delivered by these charlatans?
Well, in a postmodern sense, truth is not an objective reality that can be understood through enlightened reasoning. Truth is the subjective result of social construction techniques such as marketing. Truth is that which is understood to be true, not because there exists an intrinsically valid underlying reality, but rather because people en mass accept it as true. People make their decisions based not on examination, experimentation and logic, but on charisma and presentation. It is this charisma and presentation, enhanced by brilliant marketing techniques, that has made Fox News the most trusted name in news. Any con man knows, however, that being trusted does not mean that one should be trusted.
I’m not a postmodernist in sensibility. I believe that there is an objective, underlying reality that can be known and understood. I also happen to believe (perhaps I’m overly optimistic) that ultimately truth will win out. I think the postmodernists have a point in the short term. Marketing can proxy for truth in the short term, but cannot perpetuate a permanent façade. Eventually other voices will be heard. Eventually the debate will be forced. Eventually the truth will find its way to the surface.
For now, however, we must be wary when organizations like Fox News, and Breitbart, and yes, even MSNBC, market themselves as news organizations. In fact, they are sources of commentary. There’s nothing wrong with that. A problem exists, however, when an organization like Fox News has a consistent history of distorting the truth (read lying) to extend its agenda. To compound this problem, Fox News does not hesitate to destroy the innocent to do so. This organization should be suspect. On my end, I find that it is much easier to assume that Fox News is lying and wait until their reports are validated, than to assume they are telling the truth. The NAACP would not have been “snookered” if they had followed this simple tactic.