Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Did MSNBC's Toure Diss CNN's Don Lemon On Twitter?

MSNBC "The Cycle" co-host Toure
It's taken a long time for African-Americans to get the opportunity to anchor or co-host mainstream prime-time television news broadcasts for cable and the major networks.

Bernard Shaw set a pretty high standard on CNN as did Ed Bradley on '60 Minutes' on CBS. Personally I think Lester Holt does an excellent job as the weekend anchor of the NBC Nightly News and as the occasional fill-in for Brian Williams.

There aren't a lot of black television journalists out there but the ones who are there are pretty sharp in my opinion; including Gwen Ifill on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry on MSNBC and Suzanne Malveaux on CNN - and for a little younger perspective I've been a fan of MSNBC co-host and political commentator Toure for some time.

So I was more than a little puzzled by the news on the Huffington Post that he had publicly dissed CNN anchor Don Lemon via Twitter.

Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that all black television journalists are going to think and act alike and agree on everything in some kind of mutual kumbaya-fest.

But given the climate of increasing racial polarization in this nation (thanks in no small part to right-wing media) it's more than unprofessional of Toure to take a casual public cheap shot at Don Lemon on social media; it's irresponsible on a deeper level that should be more than obvious.

And frankly it exposes Toure's immaturity as a journalist/commentator for someone who's been fortunate enough to have had stints on BET and CNN as well.

Think what you want about Don Lemon he's sharp, well-spoken, quick-thinking on camera and to me is one of the more interesting TV anchors on a mainstream cable news channel.

Lemon took some heat back in June for going on-air and defending Bill O'Reilly's comments about problems facing the African-American community that contribute to at-risk young men of color gravitating towards criminal activity. Read the transcript for yourself, was Lemon wrong? Was O'Reilly?

Like Bill Cosby, Lemon said some things that many African-Americans think, but don't really like to hear. And he got a bunch of heat from "liberal" media pundits for it. So on Sunday Toure Tweeted the following: "Why aren't white leaders like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Don Lemon doing anything to combat white on white violence?"

I think it's fairly obvious Toure was going for something of a sarcastic tongue-in-cheek kind of statement to make a point.

But unfortunately for Toure and his credibility as a television journalist the reality is white on white violence is NOT the issue in cities like Trenton, Camden, Detroit or Chicago.

Nor is white on white violence to blame for the shockingly low test scores of a place like Trenton Central High School; where the scores are so low the school refuses to even publish them - and the likelihood  of many of those students making it to college and graduating is so slim it's heartbreaking.

White on white violence doesn't make a kid in Chicago or St. Louis decide to join a gang and drop out of school either. So while Toure is kicking back on a Sunday in his jammies trying to be clever on social media and take a swipe at Don Lemon for having the balls to speak publicly about an issue people can barely acknowledge - a shocking percentage of young black children in many US cities are being left behind in a nation with a growing income gap. 

Without the skills to compete in a rapidly-changing 21st century workplace that's tough enough for people with college degrees.

So was Toure thinking about that when he sent that tweet? Or was he thinking about starting one of these petty "Twitter feuds" with a fellow black journalist who had the temerity to express an opinion on the state of Black America?

Or in his rush to take Lemon down a notch, was Toure actually unknowingly feeding into the kind of divisiveness over race that right-wing "media" Websites like Brietbart.com are already (using his Tweet quote) seizing on to justify their own distorted perception of people of color?
My maternal grandmother, who was a wise church-going woman of deep faith, used to simply call that "crabs in a bucket". It's a term typically used in the African-American community that describes black people who try and tear down other black people over things like envy, resentment or for reasons which are just plain petty.

In this case it looks like Toure tweeted without thinking, and got his claws caught in the cookie jar.

No comments: