On Saturday, CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield slipped in a puddle of gaffe when she described the man who shot up the Dallas police department headquarters as “very courageous and brave, if not crazy as well.”
I wrote about her initial comments here: CNN Anchor Power-Gaffes Dallas PD Shooting Story
The reaction was swift and vicious. (My own comments, linked above, weren’t exactly gentle.) Even the Houston and Fort Worth police officers’ associations jumped on the pile, demanding an apology from CNN and Whitfield:
— Fort Worth Police OA (@FWPOA) June 13, 2015
"Courageous and brave" to shoot at police officers with an assault rifle. Get a clue and WAKE UP!
— HPOU (@HPOUTX) June 13, 2015
Responding to pressure, Whitfield, addressed her choice of words today, saying, “I misspoke, and in no way believe the gunman was courageous, nor brave.” Watch:
Notice that I didn’t say “she apologized for her comments,” because she didn’t. Stick a pin in that.
Joe Concha at Mediaite has, at least I think, a fair point about the ensuing outrage, and how far the internet lynch mob is willing to go when something like this happens:
Whitfield should have absolutely known better having sat in an anchor chair during situations like this for nearly two decades, having worked for the NBC Nightly News before CNN since 1995. And of course, everyone in the business knows what happened to then-ABC’s Bill Maher when he seemed to praise the 9/11 hijackers for bravery (or whatever “not cowardly” equates to) while calling the U.S. cowardly. Here’s what he said on his show shortly after 9/11:
“We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from two thousand miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly.”
Maher was fired soon thereafter. So should Whitfield be fired as well? Not even close. Suspended? Don’t think so…only because there was no intent here (unlike, say…ex-MSNBCer Martin Bashir, who wrote his recommendation that someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth beforehand and had it loaded in prompter).
In my original post on this, I called Whitfield’s words “ignorant” with regards to the severity, fear, and danger of the situation the Dallas PD found itself in. I stand by that statement, but I also think that Concha has a point with regards to intent.
Whitfield should have apologized, not because I expect every journo who makes an ignorant comment to fall at my feet and plead for the life of her career, but because what she said was just that shockingly stupid. It offended people; it shocked a community; it led some of her viewers to believe that we were about to hear an irrational discussion about the motivations of a madman.
That earns an “I’m sorry” that neither her viewers, nor the Dallas PD, are likely to ever get.DONATE
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