Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a couple of dozen times, and shame on me — but also shame on what passes for journalism on television.
This truism comes to mind after my appearance on â€œPaula Zahn Nowâ€ on CNN this week to discuss the Duke rape case. Iâ€™m not naÃ¯ve about these kinds of shows — which I know are not really about journalism but about ratings, most easily obtained through sensationalism and playing to the prejudices of the audience — but over the past 20 years Iâ€™ve gone on a number of them to discuss my work as a sociologist on issues of racism and sexism in media. Like many progressives, I do that with eyes wide open, knowing the limits but realizing itâ€™s one of the few shots we have at a mass audience.
But this time I foolishly had high hopes after a producer from Zahnâ€™s show actually conducted a thoughtful screening interview, unlike any I had spoken with in the past. Most producers typically are uninterested in my views and tend to ask banal questions in these pre-interviews over the phone. They usually donâ€™t care about my arguments, but simply want to check that I have a big mouth (which, I admit, I do) and will not freeze in fear when the cameras roll. When they recognize that I am not someone who is likely to cower in the face of adversarial arguments, thatâ€™s enough for them.
But this CNN producer kept grilling me with FULL