So, as the week draws to a close, has the Shirley Sherrod affair vanished from the Stateside screen? Well, no it hasn’t. And now the backsliding, repositioning and blame shifting has begun in earnest.
And those nice people at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) have been attracting a mounting tide of criticism, some of which their “stars” are finding hard to take. Over at MSNBC, the genuinely polemic “Special Comment” midweek by Keith Olbermann appears to have spurred colleague Rachel Maddow into laying into Fox with some relish.
Maddow put forward her take on the Fox agenda: that it was to frighten white voters into believing that blacks are coming after them, coming to take their jobs, their livelihoods. But what made for interesting viewing for the average Joe and Joanne was uncomfortable for Fox, so much so that Bill O’Reilly hit back the following evening in his “Talking Points Memo”.
This was classic Bill-O: he started by apologising to Shirley Sherrod, but then went on to pick at the rest of her speech to the NAACP, questioning her language and suitability for Government service. It was typically disingenuous: the language Sherrod used, and which caused O’Reilly such discomfort, was used to show how she had felt at first, before she realised that she had a duty to help all those less well off, whether black, white, hispanic, or whoever.
And then Bill-O made a big mistake: he patronisingly went after Maddow. Bad move. O’Reilly’s comments on Fox’ superior ratings, as she pointed out, were only used to allow him to evade the issue. After all, she pointed out, the wrestling and Spongebob got bigger ratings than Fox – so what? As Maddow showed, Fox in general and O’Reilly in particular are wrong on those little things called facts.
And that’s a fact.