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Jesse Jackson’s new defender: FOX News?

Oh for the sake of Edward R. Murrow, just play the damn tape. Today it was revealed that Jesse Jackson, the now completely irrelevant civil rights icon whose recent crusades included calling for an apology from Michael Richards for his racist tirade and defending wide receiver Terrell Owens’ right to play the Philadelphia Eagles, not only was taped on FOX News as wanting to cut off Sen. Barack Obama’s manhood, but, in an unaired segment used the N-word.

Yes, we know, this shouldn’t be news. At the moment our nation is at two wars, banks are shuttering their doors with unbelievable speed and my beloved pseudo-son, Reds rookie center fielder Jay Bruce is going through his first MLB batting slump. And, hello? Bengals training camp is only ten days away . However, Jackson, is one of the last living strands to that great and powerful civil rights movement and as such has certain responsibilities. These include not making yourself a laughingstock or figure for ridicule on South Park. It also requires that you in public settings display eloquence and grace at all times, even if you think the mic is off. You are a living, breathing connection to one of the most . And now you’ve blown it.

At the same time, FOX has bungled this from the beginning. After showing the tape where Jackson whispered that he didn’t appreciate Obama supposedly speaking down to blacks and that he wanted to cut the presidential candidate’s nuts off, the always tactful Bill O’Reilly said there were segments they wouldn’t air. Apparently this included the use of the N-word, though the full context remains unclear because FOX, while acknowledging the word was used, still refuses to air the segment. It seems naive to think that in our time if you say there’s something you won’t show that people won’t discover the details. One can only speculate that the bastion of "fair-and-balanced" reporting decided to not air the full version as a way of keeping the story going during a campaign lull.

Yes, it’s a horrible, horrible, horrible word–one that I heard too frequently growing up in southwest Ohio. But for the sake of closure, the network should air the unairable. At the very least it would make Jackson’s deserved fall into the depths of irrelevancy complete.

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