The UpTake's "Gook" video has garnered a lot of good response. Thanks to everyone who has emailed, commented, and Twittered. There's a ton of (often crazy) near-conversation on the Veracifier version, and it's been posted on AlterNet, Huffington Post, Brave New Films, and several other blogs, including most prominently Minnesota Public Radio's NewsCut with Bob Collins.
Bob started out talking about the thorny issue of racism, especially accusations of racism in an election year, which I agree merits healthy skepticism. But then he set his sights on the way I covered the story. We've gone round and round, and near as I can tell, Bob is unhappy with a video only about Irwin Tang's book, though the basic facts of the story are sourced.
For example, in the video Tang talked about McCain wanting to kill the Iranians with cigarettes, and sang "Bomb bomb Iran" in response to a question about Iran. Tang argues that this sort of dehumanizing is a preparation for war upon those people. Considering McCain has warned of Iran 'Armageddon', and promised "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars," I don't think that assertion it unreasonable. Perhaps more links or quotes by McCain in the video would have underscored the validity of Tang's assertion.
More information, more research, and a deeper story are certainly there for the making. I don't claim this video is the be-all end-all, or the most comprehensive video on the subject of McCain's alleged racism. But it is a story, and a good one I think, presenting Tang's case, a history of the word "gook" and it's connection to U.S. wars and invasions, and Tang's own experience with the word "gook" as a Chinese-American.
Bob Collins seems to want me to go find someone trying to prove John McCain is not a racist, or wants a documented conversation between Tang and McCain.
This is not that story. That story would be good, too - not better, necessarily, but different and informative. I welcome Bob Collins, or anyone else, to make that story. The more the merrier. I stand by my work, and I'm damn proud of it.
Collins says he likes non-political stories about people. I like making stories about people, too – in fact that's what I love, and why I'm a documentarian. But, I will not shy away from people with controversial stories. I find Irwin Tang's story, and the case he makes, compelling. I hope people know more about the term "gook" and John McCain's use of that word after watching it – I sure do.
//Bob Collins seems to want me to go find someone trying to prove John McCain is not a racist
That's not at all close to true. As you know.
Posted by: Bob Collins at Jul 24, 2008 7:08:55 AM
Not at all - several things you've said point in that direction.
But if it's not true, I'm glad to hear it.
Posted by: Chuck at Jul 24, 2008 7:28:25 AM
The new journalism (aka not THE mainstream media) often consists of pushing out these one-person stories. Queried by MSM whether this is a good way to do it, we're often told that it's OK because in the blogosphere, if something isn't correct, someone will post something that corrects it. Part of that process is asking some tough questions of the person making the allegations and the media that acts as the surrogate to do so. So to the extent that Chuck and/or you are unhappy with that process, well, I'm only engaging in the one that the new journalists say is the one they prefer. The alternative in the absence of a balanced presentation is acceptance of the premise without question and I don't think that's a particularly intelligent approach to serious issues and allegations.
It's a little disconcerting that the people who have gained this awesome responsibility at a time of the decline of mainstream media don't seem to understand that.
You're really on a high horse about how you'd approach this, as opposed to my apparently not-intelligent approach. As I said in a pending comment, you are increasingly sounding like you want to show us new media upstarts a thing or two about journalism.
To which I say - great. Throughout this conversation I've encouraged you to talk to Irwin Tang, ask whatever hard-hitting questions you have, get the balance you seek. The more the merrier.
But the undercurrent to much of what you say is that my story is not valid, or it wasn't done right. I reject that. We have a compelling short video out there now, factually correct, giving a lot of people a perspective they're not getting elsewhere.
Posted by: Chuck at Jul 24, 2008 8:59:38 AM
With apologies to Bob Collins, I have yet to read anything by him that I found compelling or insightful. Your quote above proves the point. Old media's obsession with "balance" is inane. Paul Krugman jokes that if you wrote a story about the shape of the earth the headline would be "Earth's Shape: Differing Views". The fucking earth is spherical, evolution is a fact, astrology is complete and utter bullshit and John McCain has said what he has said. Sometimes the intelligent thing to do is assume your readers have both a brain and access to other sources of information.
Posted by: lolife at Jul 25, 2008 11:51:16 AM
You mention the "Bomb, Bomb Iran" joke to prove that John McCain somehow wants to start a war with Iran. I've always found it weird that I have never gotten to see what McCain said after saying that. Perhaps, the reason the YouTube video cuts there is because Sen. McCain goes on to talk about needing tougher diplomacy with Iran, not war. He has always called for more diplomacy:
I honestly don't know what he said after singing that weird "Bomb, Bomb Iran." That's the problem though. We have a drive-by media that parses every word.
Posted by: Terry Ann at Jul 27, 2008 10:06:48 PM