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Fox News Baselessly Uses Sorority Step Competition To Gratuitously Race Bait

Reported by Ellen - March 8, 2010 -

On America Live earlier today, Megyn Kelly made an obvious attempt to whip up resentment toward African Americans by discussing the results of a step dance competition in which, after a white team won an upset victory in the traditionally black form, a scoring change was announced so that the white team and the black team became co-winners. Kelly made no attempt to hide her judgment that the white team was the “real” winner. She made no attempt to find out from the judges what had caused the scoring change. She also made no attempt to get any African American perspective. In fact, despite her obvious prejudice, Kelly seemed to have done absolutely no investigation into the circumstances at all. Otherwise, a simple Google search would have told her that the original (white) winners had no problem with the outcome. Instead, Kelly looked stunned and more than a little foolish when, after a big buildup pointing to a different conclusion, the co-captain told her that the other team was worthy and that she was glad they got scholarship money, too. This segment continued a pattern of racial hostility we have long noted in Kelly. With video.

Kelly said in her introduction, “A sorority step competition causing quite a stir between sisters.” She played a clip of the white dancers, the Zeta Tau Alpha team from the University of Arkansas.

“Pretty darned good,” Kelly enthused. She never played any clips of the black team.

Kelly continued, “Recently, Sprite… hosted a ‘Step Off’ competition and these ladies won. But then there was a huge outcry following the event. You see, later the organizers suddenly said there as a ‘scoring error’ (said with obvious disbelief). And the women at Zeta, who you just saw, now have to SHARE (her emphasis) first place with the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority… from Indiana University. Was the scoring error a move to be more politically correct? You see, the second sorority is black. The winners of this competition (Kelly conveniently left off the word “original” before “winners”) were white.”

Just in case viewers didn’t get the message, Kelly announced that the co-captain of “the winners” (i.e. the white Zeta Tau Alpha team), Alexandra Kosmitis, would be joining her by phone.

Kelly's first question played up the angle of racial animosity. “Your team is all white, you win this competition, you were the only white team, I’m told, at the competition, and I’m told there were audible boo’s when you won, from the mostly black audience. Was it unusual to have an all-white step team there?”

Kudos to Kosmitis who showed more grace, maturity and better sportsmanship than Kelly clearly expected or wanted from her. Kosmitis completely defused the situation. “Yes, …it was unusual that we were competing at this level.“

Still, Kelly did her best to drum up some hostility. “As soon as you won, there was an outcry on line. Some postings on line said white organizations should not – I’m reading this – should not be allowed to participate in these step competitions at all since stepping is a black Greek cultural tradition. And on and on the accusations went.” Then, just to race bait a little more, she asked, “Is there any merit to that?”

Funny, I thought it was the media’s job to ferret out that kind of information.

Meanwhile, a banner on the lower third of the screen suggestively read: Winners of sorority dance off find out they have co-winners.

Kosmitis, acknowledging that step dancing has been a traditionally black event, said that with the change, “You’re gonna have people embrace it, and then you’re gonna have negative reactions as well.” She added that there have been “extremes” on both sides and that her team was focusing on the positives.

No focusing on the positives for Kelly. “So people booed you when you won the first prize, although a lot of people on line came to your defense and said it was clear that your team was the best. And then! And then! Five days after the competition, as the internet started buzzing… the organizers announced… that there was a scoring error and now you have to share your first prize with another sorority… a black sorority that placed second. Your feelings on that.”

Kosmitis said she and her team “completely support” the scoring change. She said that Sprite is a company of integrity that had acted in fairness. “We are really excited that we got $100,000 for our education and we’re really excited that the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha had that opportunity as well.”

Kelly was obviously surprised by that reaction. “So you didn’t have any problem. You believe that the second place team was as good as your team and that they deserved to share the first place prize with you.”

No, Kosmitis did not have a problem with the outcome. “They were a really good step team. I mean, we knew we had stiff competition and they did really well so the score just reflects what happened,” she said.

“OK, well, good,” Kelly said. And while I would not say she sounded deflated, she was obviously surprised. “So there’s no controversy. You think it’s great.”

Kosmitis later added that if it’s what Coca-Cola (the owner of Sprite) thought it was what needed to be done, her team supported it. “We’re just happy and happy that we still have first place and some scholarship money.”

“That’s good news!” Kelly said. “Problem solved, then. Everybody’s happy… All the best to you both.”

Had Kelly bothered to Google before going on the air, she would have been prepared for this outcome. In less than no time, I found an AP article about the controversy dated February 26, 2010, in which Kosmitis showed all the same bigness of character, as did a spokeswoman for the opposing sorority.

The AP article also quoted spokeswomen for both sororities noting their disappointment “that talented young women who were doing what they love got swept up in an ugly online controversy.” What’s really unfortunate is that instead of exploring that angle, Kelly did her best to make the controversy even uglier.