TODAY | July 23, 2010
>>> ford jr. is a former democratic congressman and chair of the democratic leadership counsel as well as the author of "more davids than goliaths." the publisher and editor of "the nation" magazine. we heard a lot this week of people from the naacp to the administration all over the place saying there are teachable moments here. what did we learn?
>> i think we learned two things. one, we should all take a collective sigh and deep breath. the immediamedia, those in politics, those listening and weighing issues in congress and certainly those who immediately inject race into things. i think the politics is bigger than the race. we in the media , and i consider myself in the media somewhat working for nbc, we jump on things whether it's from blogs, a report from some group that may not follow ethical standards as forcefully as some in the media do. it's time for us all to take a step back, listen to the other side and you may reach a different conclusion.
>> what did you learn?
>> i think this is a testing moment for america. are we going to be an america that learns from shirley sherrod's tales of reconciliation over prejudice, working with that white family to overcome poverty? are we going to become a media system which is vetting and holding standards, or are we going to be bullied by a right-wing media which peddles fear and slanders the obama presidency. finally, is this white house going to wake up --
>> in the past it's worked in both directions, by the way. bias media is nothing new.
>> it's not about bias, it's about a mainstream media with a few exceptions in this case accepting andrew breitbart , a journalist known to have no credibility, and he ginned up his story and people moved too quickly. i agree with harold . this white house needs to institute the procedures president obama said and get a sp spine because it is feeding the zealots of our system by not standing tall and confronting the forces of hate and fear in a country that has a lot of economic pain.
>> harold mentioned this, too, you say the word race or racism and it immediately elicits a sense of fear in people. ordinarily reasonable people start to do some very unreasonable things when they worry about being associated with that word.
>> but i think you're doing too much moral equivalent, matt. i really think you're seeing people in the media system in this country who are doing good work. in this case "the atlantic journal constitution" and cnn stood back, took the time and vetted due diligence which is what the white house may have done. fox news hasn't retracted the story. shepherd smith has sued a few words. this was a ginned up, fabricated story and this country cannot a afford this kind of --
>> bill o 'reilly also apologized. they didn't run the tape until after the resignation. so it's not as if they forced the resignation.
>> the most positive thing about the racial aspect was that the collective response, if ms. sherrod had said and meant the things she said, the collective response of the nation was the right one, that she should be removed from her job if she allows race to determine how and when she will work. the problem no one looked at the tape. collectively our response to what we thought was an injustice as a nation, be it fox news or the white house , was the wrong thing. she is the hero in this whole thing. the fact she has shown a temperament, a disposition and the same kind of reconciliation she expressed in her speech towards those in the media and i know to mr. breitbart she said he was dead wrong but to the president and all, that's the spirit we should all embrace.
>> if she doesn't end up taking this job, does she do real damage to this administration?
>> no, no, i don't think so. but i do think that in the grace and dignity she showed, she stuck to her principles and i think this country can learn a lesson.
>> katrina and harold , good having you both here.