Rhonda Robinson

Dan Rather Stumbles, Chris Matthews Fumbles Over Watermelons and Racism

Posted on March 12 2010 7:32 pm
Rhonda Robinson is part of NewsReal's editorial team. As a columnist, Rhonda has provided readers with thoughtful insight into social, political, and parenting issues since 1995.
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I’m not a slapstick fan. Honestly, much to my family’s dismay, I really don’t care to watch “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Where, I would venture to guess, most of the action is preceded by the phrase, “Hey, hold my beer—an’ watch this…”

Although, I did find it slightly amusing and very telling, to watch Chris Matthews on his Sunday talk show, dive in after Dan Rather in an attempt to save the fallen news icon, from shooting himself in the foot.

Unfortunately for Rather, this is the age of the new media, and making a fool of yourself is highly entertaining to some. Plus we now have the thought police, and they will tweet your name into utter shame for any perceived utterances of racism.

Rather, who once tried to damage former President George W. Bush with forged documents and a misleading “news” story, has found himself having to write “I am not a racist” on the Huffington Post wall of atonement.

What Rather was trying to convey, is what he believed the GOP strategy against the President will be: that he is a lousy salesman if he can’t sell his signature issue to the American people.

Rather stated his opinion of President Obama’s lack of salesmanship:

“…an ineffective leader who couldn’t sell watermelons if you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic.”

This week, Rather wrote in the Huffington Post:

“I was talking about Obama and health care and I used the analogy of selling watermelons by the side of the road. It’s an expression that stretches to my boyhood roots in Southeast Texas, when country highways were lined with stands manned by sellers of all races. Now of course watermelons have become a stereotype for African Americans and so my analogy entered a charged environment. I’m sorry people took offense.”

“But anyone who knows me personally or knows my professional career would know that race was not on my mind.”

He then goes on and on about his work in Civil Rights, and blames the misunderstanding on snippets posted on Twitter and YouTube clips that fail to reveal the entire story or context. Basically he blamed poor reporting.

What Rather got tangled up in, and what Matthews tried to save him from, was not the perils of sound-bite reporting but the ridiculous side show of politically correct clowns that continuously create racism where there is none.

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