Shirley Sherrod, until this week anyway, worked for the USDA administering government assistance to farmers in Georgia. Recently, a conservative blogger posted a snippet of video in which Ms. Sherrod appears to be disparaging whites and suggesting that she intentionally withheld assistance to white farmers based on their race, setting off a media firestorm which led to her being fired. As new facts arose, journalists and political commentators on the left railed against Fox News and others for fanning the flames without presenting all of the facts in the case. (The Huffington piece listed above includes links to YouTube videos of Ms. Sherrod’s speech in its entirety, as well as the widely circulated clip that led to her dismissal from the USDA.)
Today, Barnes picks up on a story first reported by Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller back in June: that a listserv called JournoList includes a thread of messages in which liberal journalists discuss the possibility of conspiring to label opponents of then-Presidential candidate Obama as racists and to deflect news of Obama’s connections to Chicago preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
So one could argue that journalists on both the right and left are having a field day catering to their audiences and feeding America’s “us vs. them” anger. (I can distinctly remember when “us” was Americans and “them” was the terrorists, but I digress.)
In this environment, how can the average person believe anything she sees, reads or hears?
But wait. It gets worse.
With all the bickering and half-truthing back-and-forth, our government has decided to weigh in.
As Jeffrey Folks reported recently:
“Discussions underway at the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission point toward a dangerous new effort to regulate what Americans read and hear. The takeover under discussion would apply across the board to print media, radio and television, and the internet. The result of proposed regulations would be nothing less than an end to free speech in America.”
You can read a copy of the FTC’s “staff discussion” HERE. But the long and the short of it is that our government (who knows what’s best for us all…sarcasm intended…is seeking ways to introduce “balance” and “fairness” in the news.)
All of this reminds of me of when my brother and I used to fight as kids and my Dad would threaten to beat us both if we didn’t knock it off.
At the end of the day, you still have two crying kids and a Mom with a headache.
What does this mean for those of us seeking to get our messages into the marketplace in a meaningful, credible way?
- Don’t trust the news media to get it right.
- Don’t trust the government to make it better.
- Make sure you tell your own story, tell it well and make your story readily available.
- Then connect your news and information directly to the people who matter through your social networks.