Harriet Rossetto

Telling the truth today is dangerous.  We live in a black and white world of partial partisan truths, images and symbols.  We bully, deny, demean and crucify the parts of ourselves and others that don’t conform to the party line.

“Gotcha” is our favorite game.  People are paid to dig up shit and spread it virally across the land.

This week’s victim is Shirley Sherrod, a “woman of valor”, who publically admitted her biases and how she overcame them.  She revealed her original difficulty in helping a white farmer until she realized the issue was not race but poverty and committed herself to helping poor farmers of every description.  Her remarks were deliberately taken out of context by Fox News, sent to the NAACP, the Department of Agriculture and spread on the internet, branding her a racist.  No one bothered to check the facts.  She was publicly stoned by everyone, including the NAACP and the White House.  She lost her job and in the public eye, her 40+ years of devotion to her cause and her hard-earned integrity.

I wept for her this morning; I identified with her.  My heroes and heroines are people who examine themselves, struggle to overcome their demons and dare to tell themselves and others about them.  Our country’s heroes and media darlings appear to be those who deny their inner demons and demonize others.

That’s in public.  In private, we overdose on the smut of reality TV.  That further reassures us that we’re better than they are and affirms our denial system.

Last week it was poor Robert Gibbs, who was on the carpet for admitting an obvious truth.  It wasn’t even anything personal.  Just reality.  Not permissible in a partisan paradigm.  Deny, deny, deny!!

I weep for the Obamas and for all of us who got our hopes up and have watched hatred and fear overcome them.  We are in the grips of an addiction far more lethal than drugs or alcohol.  Only the truth shall set us free.  Honest to God!!!

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6 thoughts on “SPIN IS THE NEW TRUTH

  1. Harriet,

    This is a sad story, and what transpired was wrong and unfortunate. But Fox News did not “deliberately” take her remarks out of context; that is not accurate. Fox News was sent the clip already out of context. When it was revealed that the remarks were taken out of context–and that Shirley’s tale was really one of compassion and redemption–anchors at Fox News apologized, including Bill O’reilly.

  2. Thank you for this post Harriet,

    The following comments are related but slightly off topic…

    I have been thinking a lot about honesty since Tuesday of this week. In my work with gambling addiction, honesty is a central issue and I think about, say, or hear the lines from Chapter 5 AA often: “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”

    But of course, because I am so smart (said jokingly) I thought it was written wrong and should have said “being honest with themselves AND OTHERS”

    I struggle with food issues, and have since I was a child. I was at the gym and working out as I need to and I did not have enough time to finish before work. So, I say to myself : I will finish the last 20 minutes tonight when I get home.” I instantly felt better about not getting the workout done. But then I thought about it and saw I was full of …. well you know… and I was able to see the utility of the little BS we tell ourselves, we get ego points !! based on an empty promise. In an older example years ago I heard on the radio the mission needed underwear donated so I thought: I will stop by Ross and buy a bunch and bring it over.. I felt great ! what a nice guy I am, then I did not do it. I did not need to, I already got the rush out of the thought.

    I also could finally see that chapter 5 is exactly correct because if we are rigorously honest with ourselves we will be so with others, I just don’t think we could be lying to someone else and still be RIGOROUSLY honest with ourselves, perhaps in some convoluted manner but it sure would be a stretch.

    The final thing I have been thinking about regarding honestly is that we do need an environment to feel safe in to do it. If a patient can not tell me that they gambled last week, is it partly because I was too judgmental? too harsh? or they did not trust my reaction would be helpful or that I would be disappointed in them? How do we react when someone is rigorously honest with us? Are we providing an environment for them to do that in? How about when it hurts us like infidelity?

    Shabbat shalom to all the BTS staff and patients !
    Friday, July 23

  3. Linda Dorfmont July 24, 2010 — 8:05 pm

    A very wise woman, Barbara Branden, once told me that the more vicious and obstreperous the expression of an opinion, the less confidence the person holding that opinion has in it. My question to her was regarding the extreme political vehemence that we were hearing in the press during the mid term elections in the second Bush administration. I was hearing horrible things said by little old ladies about “the other guys” and wondered why I had never heard this before. Ms. Branden reminded me that we went through the same thing under the Reagan administration and explained the cause. Every time I hear these attacks on people who hold opposing opinions I remember where they are coming from.

  4. Oh, you are so right about this. During the election we had a bumper sticker on one of our cars. A client saw it and said, “If I’d seen that sticker before we listed you’d not have gotten this listing and further, you’d better get it off because if people in the Valley see this you’ll never get another listing.” I was horrified but secretly grateful I already had ’em in escrow. Not the America I know. One should never have to feel ashamed to stand up for their beliefs. But somehow, oddly, it has turned this way. Ok, I am outspoken. Always have been. Always have taken guff from people mocking me for being outspoken. Tough. It’s who I am. Recently I saw a Facebook comment from one of my “friends” with a nasty rhetoric about the Obamas. I have friends from all sides of the spectrum and I always recognize their opinions even if I do not agree. Anyway, this time I couldn’t help but comment that I am not understanding why a certain faction seem to eager to tear our President down and see him fail. Why not, I wonder, support him and try to be positive about things. Don’t we all succeed if he does? Oh, and one last thing. Honesty. Ok, I’ll be honest here. I watch New York Housewives, I watch Housewives of the O.C., Atlanta and New Jersey. I admit it and I enjoy it. But even I can not bring myself to watch the Washington Housewives. Maybe I need a spin doctor?

  5. I was unacquainted with the issue of Shirley Sherrod until reading this post and some web material around its controversy. I am Canadian and this story did not get much publicity here.

    I would ask, are media crucifixion, distorted reporting and character assassination through hysterical accusation really anything new?

    With the web and a couple hundred TV channels, conjecture and sensationalization represented as news can travel faster and farther than ever. So is spin really the new truth or is it the old truth accelerated?

    We as a society seem to have largely traded in past media such as newspapers, comic books and harlequin romance novels as escape vehicles of choice for “Reality” TV, YouTube debris, Facebook and Twitter. Same drug, different dealers.

    Has society not always sought reprieve from the dullness of their existence (lack of gratitude and creativity) through fixation with the sensationalized and scandalized accounts of others?

    And are there not retaliatory voices to every issue circulated to the addicted public? One article I read indicates Rev . Jesse Jackson making a public defense of Shirley Sherrod and Bill O’Reilly offering a public apology stating he did not research the issue thoroughly.

    Yet the damage is done. But can Ms. Sherrod not now be viewed a victim in the eyes of the public and the same swift media that brought her down, and potentially be restored and held in esteem for her climb back? I guess only time will tell.

    One thing that is definitely not new is the fact that there is a large portion of the population who need to get a freakin life.

    Newsflash! Not everything on the news is accurate or true!



  6. Harriet ~

    Have been re-reading People of the Lie.

    Peck says this; “it is characteristic of those who are evil to judge others as evil. Unable to acknowledge their own imperfection, they must explain away their flaws by blaming others. And, if necessary, they will even destroy others in the name of righteousness.”

    I don’t know if the spin placed on Sherrod is anything new. Rather, perhaps its that current practitioners have honed Scanlon to a high art form.

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