Fox News Reporter ‘Sick’ Over On-Air Mix-Up Of Black Newsmakers

by | August 4, 2010 at 4:24 PM | Cable News, TV News

Greta Van Susteren (Fox News)

Greta Van Susteren (Fox News)

Nobody’s perfect, especially the producers of live news programs such as Greta Van Susteren‘s nightly show on Fox News Channel, ‘On the Record.’

Greta had to hammer out a quick and adamant apology on her personal Fox News blog site, Gretawire, to set the ‘Record’ straight earlier this week after her show mixed up video clips of California Rep. Maxine Waters and Shirley Sherrod, the U.S. Department of Agriculture official who was fired – wrongly, it turned out – when she appeared to make racially charged comments in a speech she delivered.

On Van Susteren’s show, a video clip of Sherrod appeared on-screen during an interview Greta was conducting with a guest, ‘ABC World News’ senior editor Rick Klein, about Waters, who is the subject of a House Ethics Committee corruption probe. The Sherrod clip was intercut with clips of Waters – a mistake that was presumably unintentional but nevertheless opened up Fox News to criticism that the right-leaning news network is so racially insensitive that it can’t tell one African-American woman from another. (For the record, the two women are close in age – Waters is 61 and Sherrod 62).

Watch the segment here:

“OOPS… we so screwed up on this one and we are sick about it,” Van Susteren wrote on her blog. “We hate it when we screw up here at ‘On the Record.’ Right now we are trying to console ourselves with the fact that, while we did a doozy of a mistake, at least it was unintentional, we noticed it immediately and scrambled to fix it immediately. And yes, even with telling ourselves that, we still feel horrible!”

The mistake was especially ill-timed because of the criticism that has been leveled at Fox News ever since the cabler jumped on the original story of Sherrod’s speech – video of which was posted on a web site operated by controversial anti-government gadfly Andrew Breitbart. It later came to light that the video of the speech had been edited in order to drive home the impression that Sherrod was personally biased against white farmers with whom she was assigned to work.

In the meantime, Fox News personalities (and other pundits) turned up the heat on the bogus Sherrod racism story and she was fired. President Obama later phoned her personally to apologize. And now, Sherrod says she plans to sue Breitbart.

All things considered, it’s hard to believe that someone behind-the-scenes at Fox News would slot an erroneous video clip on purpose, especially one involving a newsmaker such as Sherrod, who stands at the center of a racially charged story that Fox has been vilified for. It’s more likely that the clips were mixed up on the fly in the midst of producing a live television show. What on earth would be the motive for doing such a thing intentionally?Even the channel’s harshest critics would be hard-pressed to tag Fox News with the R-word – racist.