When it came to rushing to judgment on the Shirley Sherrod affair, no one ran further afield than Fox News. They battered away at the story with a unique fury, feeding on pure bamboozlement and lactating the same substance back onto the teevee screen. Sherrod was a crazy racist radical who had "burrowed" her way into the Obama administration to radiate "reverse-racism" throughout the land from her obscure position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The end!
And all of this was utterly wrong. In fact, if Sherrod was radiating any ethos at all, it was this: we're all responsible for confronting our own prejudices and taking the necessary actions to surmount them. That was the "context" of the speech she gave. That was the character that she showed the Spooner family. That was -- or would have been -- a powerful lesson to learn. It's a pity that Fox News didn't afford this lesson much of an opportunity to be instilled.
You know, you got to give Glenn Beck some credit. He said that context mattered, and he found the context: "Now if [Sherrod] is just relating a story from 1986 to make a point about how her racial perceptions changed, this woman deserves her job back." Sadly, this came long after the damage was done.
It didn't have to be this way! Let's listen to Fox News' own Shepard Smith, making perfect sense:
"We here at Studio B did not run the video and did not reference the story in any way for many reasons, among them: we didn't know who shot it, we didn't know when it was shot, we didn't know the context of the statement, and because of the history of the videos on the site where it was posted, in short we do not and did not trust the source."
If that had been the policy in the first place, organization-wide, things would have been very different. It would have not, for example, gone like this:
Video produced by Ben Craw
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place