JOHN W. SAWYER III
July 26, 2010
New York Times
620 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY, 10018
Re: The Last Straw.
Notwithstanding my obsession with knowing everything, hence my (2) subscriptions to the Times, Brian Stelter’s article, “When Race Is the Issue, Misleading Coverage Sets Off an Uproar” sets a new standard for biased journalism.
Discussing the heavily-edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod’s (self admitted) bias against a white farmer, as portrayed in a column by Andrew Breitbart, Mr. Stelter alleges “The Sherrod episode is hardly the first charge of reverse racism that has been raised by conservatives media figures . . .” Why is it racism when white people discriminate, but “reverse-racism” when perpetrated by people of color? Isn’t racism, racism?
Next the article quotes Jane Hall who claims that what Ms. Sherrod endured was “classic propaganda,” a terminology that implies an indeterminate smearing of Ms Sherrod’s character to obtain a result. The Breitbart report came out on Tuesday. Ms Sherrod was forced to resign at the behest of the Whitehouse (according to the lengthy CNN Sherrod interview - not disputed by the Whitehouse, ever). Wednesday morning. The gravamen of the Whitehouse’s argument for rushing to judgment was a possible negative reflection of the Sherrod comments on the first African-American President on the evening Glenn Beck Show.
Ms. Sherrod, with the insistence of a paranoid White House, summarily was fired without a hearing. Media coverage AFTER that has nothing to do with that firing. Regardless of Ms. Hall’s eloquent point, propaganda, by definition, had nothing to do with her firing.
Next slide please: “Ms. Sherrod said she had been told by an unnamed Agriculture Department official that she had to resign immediately because ‘you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight’.” That’s not what Ms. Sherrod said, and the Times knows it. “They harassed me as I was driving, said she. I received three calls stating that the White House asked me to resign.” CNN Reporter: “So, the administration pressured you out?” “Yes.”
When Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, later took the responsibility, with White House assent, for firing Ms. Sherrod, shouldn’t someone in the media (that’s you, in case you have forgotten) have asked him if he was calling Ms. Sherrod a liar? Or perhaps the Times might have asked Carol Cook, the official who called and demanded the resignation on behalf of the White House.
Ah, but the White House fears that Glenn Beck would jump on the racial incident, that was messy, wasn’t it? So, I tuned in, which I rarely do, to Glenn Beck. He defended Ms. Sherrod, and strongly opined that the firing was a rush to judgment and firmly asserted that Ms. Sherrod should be reinstated forthwith. Apparently you missed that.
Now that the straw man has been established, this followed: “The incident has also (sic) renewed accusations of racism directed at Fox News.” Ahh. “Some people say,” “sources tell us,” and other weasel words. More later.
Vous continuee: “ In the past month Fox doggedly pursued an accusation of voter intimidation by a fringe hate group called the New Black Panthers . . . “ and “Last fall, Fox’s news programs gave heavy play to heavily edited tapes that appeared to show counselors at the liberal community organizing group Acorn giving advice . . About evading taxes and setting up a brothel.” Shame on Fox; taken out of context, I suppose. I can’t wait until the complete tapes are released showing that the Panthers were a ‘fringe’ group of McCain supporters, and those folks at Acorn warning that they were calling the police.
Of course, Rush Limbaugh piled on by asserting that other media “doing their best to cover it up by ignoring it;” an absurd assertion given the Times’ extensive coverage of the ACORN tapes, the Panthers intimidation, the acquittal of Congressman Murtha’s favorite military baby killers; etc.
Then there was yesterday’s news programs, wherein Howard Dean “accused Fox of pushing a theme of black racism . . . . Continuing to cater to this theme of minority racism and stressing comments like this - some of which were taken out of context . . . “
Sunday moderator, Chris Wallace, admonishing (some peoples) penchant for not letting the facts interfere with their version of the truth asked Mr. Dean if he was aware that Fox News had not reported even ONE single story on the Sherrod affair until AFTER she had been fired, thus making it implausible to place the blame of Ms. Sherrod’s firing on Fox News. An obviously surprised and flustered Howard Dean tried to blame Fox anyway with this great line (paraphrased): it’s Fox’s fault because the Obama administration was so concerned about possible adverse coverage by Glenn Beck that they ordered Ms. Sherrod’s resignation, without hearing the truth, to pre-empt adverse publicity.
To which one wag on the panel later in the show commented: If Obama can’t stand up to Glenn beck, how does he expect to stand up to Ahmadinejad?
None of which, of course, was mentioned in Mr. Stelter’s hit piece.
I’m probably one of the few conservatives who subscribes to the Times simply because I appreciate the unique diversity and the depth of your coverage (grammar’s a different matter) compared with the lack of both in all other print media. Your ‘sports section’ sucks, though - I digress.
Recent articles on Job Fairs in China; the demise of barcars on commuter trains, your insightful book reviews (so badly misinterpreted by Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and other hack writers), and today’s article on Pakistani Intelligence (allegedly) helping Afghanistan insurgents, can’t be found anywhere else. But, while I generally ignore your vacuous Op-Ed articles, such as Bob Herbert’s predictable “Thrown to the Wolves” column last Saturday (The Shirley Sherrod story tells us so much about ourselves - OURselves, Bob? I’ll hold my breath), should I fact check everything I read from now on in the Times? After all, you expected Andrew Breitbart to fact check that video before he wrote his column.
I insist on fair and honest reporting from the Times, and you, sir, should expect no less. Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth, indeed ! !
John W. Sawyer III