Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brother Brian

From Brian Williams's Sept. 30 Daily Nightly blog: "Chicago was this week in the news for a stomach-turning act of violence, and today I link to a thoughtful and edgy and provocative essay on our sister (or brother) website—not everyone will agree with its conclusion, but it will make people think."

What exactly does Brian mean by his use of the word "brother"? Since is a site devoted to the discussion of issues in the African-American community, it would seem that Brian's use of "brother" is intended to mock a word that has a specific meaning to African-Americans. Of course, this insensitivity is nothing new for Brian or Nightly News. On Jan. 26, Brian's Daily Nightly blog was titled "Old Man River At Obama's Inauguration". (The title refers to Capt. Chesley Sullenberger's appearance at the inauguration.) The original lyrics to the song "Old Man River" (also known as "Ol' Man River") were written by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1927 play "Showboat". Unfortunately, the lyrics were extremely racist, and included multiple uses of the vile "N" word. Hardly an appropriate blog title to commemorate the inauguration of America's first African-American president. And on Sept. 15, a Nightly News story about race in politics identified Rep. Steny Hoyer (who is white) as the House Majority Leader, but identified Rep. James Clyburn (who is African-American) only as a Democrat from South Carolina, despite the fact that Clyburn is the House Majority Whip, the third most powerful position in the House. Why did Nightly News identify the white congressman by his prestigious House leadership position, but did not do the same for the African-American congressman? Clearly, Brian and his producers could use some counseling with regard to the issue of racial sensitivity.

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