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An Open Letter to WashPo’s Howard Kurtz on The Sherrod Affair

Reported by Guest Blogger - July 22, 2010 -

By Aunty Em

So many people have wanted their bite at the Shirley Sherrod apple and the way Fox “News” Channel helped gin up this whole controversy that when I saw you had written a column called Finger-pointing at Fox in Shirley Sherrod Firing, I just had to see what the Washington Post’s Media Notes columnist would have to say.

After reading it I can only shake my head and mutter, “How’d you get this story so wrong???”

For the sake of argument I’ll allow you to say that Faux Noise didn't report on this until after Sherrod was fired, even though there are blogs debating even this with inconvenient facts. Yet you neglected to report what they did say on Hannity, Fox & Fiends, etc. in the middle of the maelstrom, and what they have said in the days after. Even Glenn Beck says, "Context is everything" and I never thought I’d find myself in agreement with him. Amazingly and ironically you left out all of this context in a story that was about how there was no context in Andrew Breitbart's slice & dice tapes.

You were wrong in this column, without really getting the facts wrong, just the context. Maybe you should take a look at Wednesday’s Rachael Maddow Show (07-21-10), where she plays what Fox “News” was saying before it was learned that Brietbart punked the world again and then contrasted it with what they were saying after the hoax became apparent.

You say:

Breitbart has worked closely with Fox opinion hosts in the past, most notably when he posted videos of two young activists ostensibly posing as a pimp and prostitute and seeking help from ACORN offices. Breitbart promoted those tapes on Sean Hannity's Fox program and the network gave them heavy play.

Worked closely? Don’t you mean “hand in glove?" No matter. The real point is that you never mentioned that the Pimp & Ho tapes were another selectively edited “balloon boy” scam foisted on an unwitting public and media by Breitbart. And, you never mention that ACORN was absolved by every investigation that looked into Breitbart’s last train wreck. Nor did you lament how Breitbart’s ACORN swindle brought down an important organization that did nothing more than help poor people, the vast majority of whom were Black. Can you not see how that might be relevant context in a story that—bottom line—is really all about race relations in America, and not how Fox “News” handled the story? Fox is Fox. How they handled the story is to be expected for a network that feels no compunction to live up to its motto FAIR & BALANCED.

What’s even worse is that in avoiding the context of Breitbart’s lies you also avoided talking about the lies he told after the firestorm broke. He has said it was never about Sherrod, but it clearly was. That is, until he was being righteously and rightfully pilloried. That’s when he started backpedaling and needed something new to hang his hat on. He even asked CNN’s John King how he knew that the Eloise Spooner (remember her?), was really the farmer’s wife. For someone who has no journalistic ethics whatsoever, it was a stunning question for Breitbart to ask of a real news network. Laughing yet? Me neither.

What about if Breitbart was now claiming to be the victim? Now that’s funny.

You also say “[Fox Senior Vice President Michael] Clemente, the Fox executive, said in an interview that Sherrod ‘certainly could be forgiven for being confused.’ As for other critics, he said that blaming Fox is ‘a comfortable reflex for some people.’”

No, Mr. Kurtz. It’s a very uncomfortable reflex. And, even if it is a reflex, that doesn’t make it true that Fox is blameless. Fox “News” reflexively pumps out disinformation like a Tourette’s sufferer cannot help shout obscenities. It’s expected that a Fox “News” executive would say something like this. And you didn’t do your due diligence on why this reflex might exist.

This whole “we didn’t cover the story until after she resigned” is another brilliant Fox “News” Channel deflection, which it always performs like the best prestidigitator saying, “Nothing up my sleeve.” It allows the network to avoid having to reveal what they really did say. The fact that everyone on Fox is saying the exact same thing today (07-22-10) leads me to believe that these were the instructions from the very top of the Fox hierarchy in one of those famous memos that Fox is also known for. (To be fair: I don’t know this to be true, but I do know Fox.) This has been the Fox “News” spin du jour all day today and you have provided more cover for the most mendacious tee vee network ever devised.

I bet they start quoting you now. "See? See? Even that Kurtz guy at that evil Liberal WashPo says we were right. That should tell you something, dear sheeple."

Media Notes Columnist? Howard, you screwed the pooch on this one. Fox News is scrambling to covering its ass and you have provided them with a comfy blanket with which to stay warm.

With all my love,
Aunty Em

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