Randy Tatano: THE TIME I COVERED A KLAN RALLY… WITH A BLACK PHOTOGRAPHER

August 18, 2017

“Without conflict there is no theater.”

Remember that phrase. It will make sense shortly.

This was back in the eighties. I walked into the newsroom on this particular day, looked at the assignment board to see what story I’d be doing and saw this next to my name:

Klan Rally

Oh, great. Just what every reporter wants to cover. And then it got worse. The photographer who’d been assigned to work with me was black.

I knew this couldn’t be right so I immediately went to management. “I think you’ve made a mistake on the assignment board.”

He looked at the board. “You don’t want to do your story?”

“No, that’s not it. I think I need a different photog.”

“You have a problem with the one you’re assigned?”

“No, he’s a good guy and a good shooter. But I’m sure you don’t want to send a black guy with me to a Klan rally.”

“You’ll be fine. They want to be on television.”

“You can’t be serious. Are you trying to get him killed?”

My argument fell on deaf ears. The photog, like all shooters who were born with a set of brass ones, accepted the assignment when he could have easily asked for a different one. And no one would have blamed him. A lot of people in the newsroom didn’t understand management’s decision.

I decided we would do the bare minimum for this story and get the hell out as quickly as possible. By the way, this was a political rally, as a member of the Klan was announcing his candidacy for public office. (No, it was not David Duke.) We arrived, got a few death stares from Klan members. I was as polite as possible and asked the basic questions I would of anyone running for office. “Why are you running?” and “What would you do if elected?” The photog shot some video.

And then we got the hell out of there.

Later it dawned on me. Was management hoping for some sort of altercation? Some national headline that read “Klan beats black news photographer.” It was the only plausible explanation.

Without conflict, there is no theater.

And that’s exactly what the media is doing today. Creating conflict. Creating the impression that the country is about to explode.

In reality, both the left and right have extreme fringe groups that make up a tiny part of the population. But they make for good TV. The conflict between the media and the President also makes for good TV. As do those “debates” on cable news every night and on the Sunday morning shows.

Every news person knows that people will play to the cameras. Would a lot of these incidents even happen if cameras weren’t present? If cell phones didn’t exist? If social media didn’t create flash mobs? Would they happen if political activists didn’t bankroll some of these protestors?

Is what you’re watching simply conflict that was manufactured by people trying to divide America?

And if you’re a journalist, are you telling a story or trying to create conflict?

(First reported by TV News Grapevine by Randy Tatano)  http://tvnewsgrapevine.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-time-i-covered-klan-rally-with.html    (August 18, 2017) 

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