Now that the media has decided to help whitewash Andrew Breitbart's hit piece on Shirley Sherrod by using what happened as an excuse to talk about rac
July 28, 2010

Now that the media has decided to help whitewash Andrew Breitbart's hit piece on Shirley Sherrod by using what happened as an excuse to talk about race relations non-stop instead of the fact that this is not the first time Fox News and Breitbart have done hit pieces on organizations like ACORN and others that were patently false and the need for some accountability for their actions, we continually get treated to segments like this one. The big elephant in the room that is ignored is the real need for something to be done about the fact that six companies control our media and they need to be broken up. Until that happens we're going to be fed the stream of garbage that calls itself "news" like we have here.

CNN's Anderson Cooper hosted a panel segment to discuss Howard Dean's statement on Fox News Sunday that Fox's coverage of Shirley Sherrod was racist. One one side we have the Reverend Michael Eric Dyson. And on the other side Red State blogger and now CNN contributor Erick Erickson. So CNN's idea of "fair and balanced" is to make a professor of sociology at Georgetown University have to debate a right wing flame throwing racist about race. Nice. Although now that he's part of their "Best Political Team on Television" what else should we expect from them? His hire ranks right up there with that of Republican operative Alex Castellanos.

I'd like to know why CNN thinks that someone with Erickson's history should be brought in to discuss race...ever. He's the Pat Buchanan of CNN. This is a man who called Obama's Nobel Peace Prize" an affirmative action quota". He defended Rush Limbaugh and the racist "Barack the Magic Negro" song. He also defended President Obama being portrayed as the Joker. But here he is on CNN being asked to weigh in on race relations in the United States when he's part of the problem.

Thankfully Dyson did point out just how dishonest Fox has been on the time line of when they ran with the Sherrod story but apparently Erickson doesn't want to let a little pesky thing like facts get in the way of his spin. Erickson also slammed Media Matters as "nothing but a left-wing hit job". Yeah, whatever you say Erick. That's some severe projection you've got going on there buddy.

I'm sure Erickson has a lot of disdain for Media Matters since they do a good job of documenting his hackery day in and day out. I have little doubt that sunshine is not something Erickson appreciates very much.

Transcript via CNN below the fold.

COOPER: Well, the charges of racism have been, frankly, used on both sides of the political aisle over the last week. The question is, are they fair? Or have our conversations about race in this country become nothing more than partisan weapons?

Joining me now, blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson.

Professor Dyson, what do you make of this? I mean, is Howard Dean basically just using this just as the right has used this? Or is he -- is he correct?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, clearly the history of racism in this country is not simply about individual bias. It's also about institutional power.

And I think, if there's any validity in what Mr. Dean said, it is to point to the institutional matrix in which this whole thing unfolded. The reality is, is that FOX News has not been friendly toward the interests of or perspectives about African-American people or Latinos or a whole range of other minorities.

And I think that when we begin to sling around the term racism, people get offended and think, well, the right says it. The left says it. Well, bias is one thing; racism is another. Racism is the ability to impose your viewpoints, biased as they are, as normative, and then have the power to reinforce them as necessary, and primarily exclusive.

So I think in that sense the institutional power that's wielded by a place like FOX News certainly has to be called into question, and the fringe, as he pointed out, of the Republican Party has to be taken to task for the racist elements that are there.

COOPER: Erick Erickson, what are your thoughts?

ERICK ERICKSON, REDSTATE.COM: Really? We're going to go there with a news channel that they're racists? You know, we can't have an honest conversation about race in this country because of things like this.

Everyone wants to hurl the racism charge, particular towards Republicans and towards conservatives, simply because they don't agree on policy. And we try to take policy disagreements and turn them into racial issues when they're not. I think it's time to grow up.

Honestly, I can't believe an week after the Andrew Breitbart story broke, we're still talking about Shirley Sherrod instead of the economy, jobs, you name it.

DYSON: Well, but here's the problem. When you say that racism is equally distributed on both sides, I have no doubt. And talk about liberal enlightened racism on the one hand and conservative racism on the other. I think that's an absolutely valid point. The problem is...

COOPER: Wait, do you see -- professor, are you saying there's some sort of difference in racism on the left versus racism on the right?

DYSON: No, absolutely not. I'm saying that racism is racism, period. I'm saying it's deeply embedded in the structure of American society and that people on the left and people on the right certainly have been racist and have promoted and promulgated racist ideas. But let's not pretend Mr. Erickson can't be that naive to say it's more than policy disagreement. Policies are rooted in the culture of racism. Jim Crow was a public policy perpetuated by the legal systems of American society. So don't pretend that the mere reference...

ERICKSON: Yes, but tax cuts and stimulus opposition and opposition to Barack Obama are not racist.

DYSON: The opposition to Barack Obama as a witch doctor? Tell me, sir, why -- why the reference to his ethnic particularity has anything to do with his policy? Be opposed to the public policy.

ERICKSON: That's what I'm wondering.

DYSON: What I'm saying is that the witch doctor motif has been perpetuated by the Tea Party. And on top of that, when we talk more specifically about FOX News....

ERICKSON: No, not perpetuated by the Tea Party, just by a few people who were crazy enough to hold up signs.

DYSON: You know what?

ERICKSON: We can't paint with that broad of a brush.

DYSON: I understand that. But, see, that -- that's the argument. You can't paint it with that broad of a brush. But the same people who never stood for civil rights, who never stood for the progressive realization of freedom for minority people, who never stood for the realization of the basic rights of these individuals, then all of a sudden appear on the scene, take the words that have been used by the progressives -- that is civil rights, liberty and justice -- and then use them in defense of right-wing policies that have no sensitivity toward African-American people.

ERICKSON: We've been talking about liberty since the founding of the country. You know...

DYSON: I'm talking about racial liberty, sir.

COOPER: Wait, wait.

DYSON: I'm talking about liberty rooted in...

COOPER: Let...

DYSON: ... the possibility that black people can be -- be respected. That's what I'm speaking of.

COOPER: Let -- let Erick respond.

ERICKSON: You know, to say that people who weren't there marching in the civil rights movements are all of a sudden marching in the streets, and that's proof of racism or something, no, it's not. It's proof of people being hacked off by the growth of government.

And certainly there's some people out there on both sides. I mean, saying the Tea Party is racist is like saying all Democrats support cop killers, because a few Mumia Abu Jamal people show up and have three hand posters. I mean, we're painting with too broad a brush here, and we should be having a serious conversation about race, but we can't because we're too busy with the stereotyping.

DYSON: Well -- no, no, the reason we can't have a serious conversation on race, because it's very difficult for white Americans to conceive the legitimacy of a viewpoint that says, listen, this is not an equal argument. You can't say that, well, it's racism on the left and racism on the right, which is certainly true.

But the problem is, you never acknowledge the vitriolic history of racial animus in this country. And as a result of that, when you say -- you make strong arguments like I'm against people who are out there marching, and because you didn't support the civil rights marches, that therefore, you're racist. That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying you cooperated with and benefited from a society that was unequal and that permitted African-American people to suffer for a great deal. That's what I'm talking about, something concrete and empirically verifiable and specific.

ERICKSON: My family's from Sweden. How exactly did I benefit from that?

DYSON: Wait a minute. Are you are actually trying to tell me that, because your family is from Sweden, that white skin privilege does not extend to them because they are European and not Anglo-Saxon from America? That's ridiculous.

ERICKSON: See, this is why we really can't have this discussion.

DYSON: No, you don't want to have an honest discussion.

ERICKSON: If I want to have -- if I've got to have the sins of generations ago placed on me...

DYSON: No, not the sins.

ERICKSON: ... we can't move on.

DYSON: I'm not talking about the sins, the benefits.

ERICKSON: The benefits. But you're also talking about them as sins. And you know, I would love to be able to move on from this.

DYSON: No, I'm not talking about the sins, I'm talking about the benefits.

ERICKSON: But the benefits are derived from the sins. Therefore, the benefits are also part of the sins.

DYSON: No, no. I'm saying...

ERICKSON: I will admit, it was terrible. But you know, there were people like Charlton Heston, who marched with Martin Luther King, and if he were alive today he'd be out in the Tea Party movement, as well.

DYSON: All I'm telling you, sir.

ERICKSON: Are we going to say someone like that is racist?

DYSON: I'm telling you this. When you go to the Supreme Court, you make arguments predicated upon what? Legal precedent. Why is it that the right wing is capable of acknowledging the historical impact of precedents that were set 200 years ago but can't acknowledge the benefits that they've inherited as a result of the same system?

So all I'm suggesting to you is that the past does have an impact on the present. And when we deal even with, specifically with FOX News, read Media Matters. FOX News claims it did not report the story before Shirley Sherrod resigned, but reported on the story before she even resigned. So I'm saying we can't get the facts right.

ERICKSON: No. If you're going to quote from Media Matters, then we just -- we can't have this conversation, because Media Matters is nothing but a left-wing hit job.

DYSON: Well, wait a minute. You play for the Los Angeles Lakers. I play for the Miami Heat, but we're both in the NBA. We still have rules that we have to observe on either side.

ERICKSON: Yes, but you know, we also have facts we have to observe on either side, and it seems like no one wants to talk about the objective facts. We'd rather talk about the spin.

DYSON: Well, no. Sir, that's redundant, objective facts. If it's objective, it's factual.

What I'm certainly suggesting to you is that the facts have been printed there. All we have to do is look at them, sir. And when we look at them, we see that was involved in the story prior to the resignation of Shirley Sherrod. After...


ERICKSON: For some reason, you and I are looking at the same facts and coming to different conclusions. Which I guess is fair, but I just don't think we can deal legitimately with this conversation when we're having to go back 200 years to who had benefits and who didn't and what have you.

DYSON: No, I'm talking about benefits right now. Look, if you're a white person and you get stopped by the cops, and the cops don't assume that when you real reach for your wallet it's a gun, that's a form of privilege that has nothing to do with how much money you have or what country you're from.


COOPER: Erick, I'll let you have the final thought, because we've got to go.

ERICKSON: Well, Anderson, I appreciate the time to do this, but I just think we're painting with too broad a brush. And we've just moved to the point where we can't have a civil conversation here.

DYSON: We're very civil. We just disagree.

ERICKSON: Just -- the brush that we're painting, calling people racist and racism. And is the Tea Party or not? We're talking about individuals, and we're painting with a brush that involves groups.

DYSON: We're talking about the collective enterprise -- we're talking about the collective enterprise of American society. Individuals belong to a United States of America. The United States of America benefit from privileges that were extended to certain groups and not to others. So that's empirically verifiable fact.

ERICKSON: There you go.

COOPER: We'll leave it there.

ERICKSON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Erick Erickson, Professor Michael Eric Dyson, appreciate both your perspectives. Thank you very much.

DYSON: Thank you.

And one last note, just in case there's any doubt that Fox was running with the Sherrod story before she was fired and where they were going with it, here's a screen shot of their web site from the 19th of July.


And again, here's Media Matters timeline of the Sherrod smear, or a "left wing hit job" as Erickson would call it.

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