Accuracy in Media

CNN, which has been battling with MSNBC for second place in the cable news ratings and losing far more often than it’s winning, has seemingly embarked on a new plan to gain viewers’ attention by its consistent use of the N-word on the air.

In mid-March on CNN Newsroom, special investigations unit correspondent Drew Griffin used the racial slur while explaining phone-call evidence in a Mississippi hate-crime case.

Griffin compared that to the Trayvon Martin case which has been attracting national attention for the last few weeks.

“At the end of this, Deryl Dedmon is laughing with his friends and actually called on a cell phone and, pardon my language but there’s no other way to say this — ‘I just ran over that f—ing n—ger,’ that’s what he said. And it was a clear-cut case of pure racial-intent murder that took place there, which is why it was so easy to apply the hate crime legislation in this case,” Griffin said. “There was no question about it, unlike the circumstances involving the case in Florida.”

Just because Dedmon uttered a slur doesn’t mean that Griffin should repeat it on the air.

But CNN wasn’t finished.

This past Saturday, during a special Color of Crime edition of the very same CNN Newsroom, Don Lemon and his guests Goldie Taylor, comedian Dean Obeidallah and diversity expert Buck Davis discussed the use of racially charged words and the Trayvon Martin case:

Lemon: Because you’re too polite, you’re too polite. Because you’re too politically correct. You’re too polite, this is racism free, so why not say it. Don’t feel bad for me, that only motivates me to speak the truth, right? Because you can’t—not everyone is going to agree with you.  And when I said, when I said that word, I’m going to say it again, “the N word,” I just wish—I hate saying “the N word.” I think it takes the value out of what that word really means especially when we’re reporting it. And I don’t care what color the reporter is, I think someone should say, “That person called someone ‘nigger’” instead of saying “the N word” because I think it’s sanitizes it, in a way.

Davis: Well I think Don, that you confuse white people when you use the N word. Because we’re going, “If you can use it, why can’t we use it?”

Lemon: I don’t mean it in that context, though. I’m not talking about on the street. I hate it in music.

Taylor: No, no, no, no, no.

Lemon: Listen, hang on, hang on. I hate it in music, I hate it in those kinds of things. I hate when it’s misogynistic in rap and all that. But what I’m saying is, in the reporting of a story, you should say the word not to sanitize it.

Taylor: White people aren’t confused by the use of the word “nigger.”  I mean, when they say it towards someone else who is black, they mean it, generally speaking, in a derogatory fashion.

Lemon: Okay.

And finally, yesterday CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti, reporting from Tulsa on the arrest of two suspects who police believe shot five black men, killing three of them, read a posting on one of the suspect’s Facebook page and chose not to soften the language.

“Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a f–king n–ger.”

That seemed to shock anchor Fredricka Whitfield who apologized to the viewers for the profanities Candiotti had just uttered on the air. Candiotti later apologized, saying that she regretted repeating the offensive and inappropriate language.

Candiotti later apologized, saying that she regretted repeating the offensive and inappropriate language.

CNN is supposed to be reporting on the news, not fanning the flames of racism as it did by not bleeping out the actual language. Fortunately, based on its low ratings, the chances are that not that many people were watching.

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