A Reporter’s Innocent Mistake or Racial Negligence?

Posted by Heather Kilby
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Photo courtesy of lynn-a.blogspot.com

 Everyone knows how outspoken Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson has been throughout his career. Well, just a few days ago during an interview with KTLA news anchor Sam Rubin, Jackson spoke up again, and kept going, in response to Rubin “mistaking” him for actor Laurence Fishburne. Jackson was actually being interviewed to promote his new movie “Robocop” but it turned into a slightly heated and uncomfortable discussion after Rubin asked him about his ‘super bowl commercial.’  According to the CBS article, Jackson instantly responded “what commercial?” Open mouth, insert foot moment; a reporter’s worst nightmare. Apparently Jackson was not in a super bowl commercial but Fishburne was featured in a Kia commercial and that is where the awkwardness of the interview began. During the interview Jackson jumped to the conclusion that Rubin confused the two men because of their race and his stereotypical way of thinking, and in my opinion he should have.

I watched the video several times and have read the backlash on both sides. I truly believe it was the fault of the reporter. He was clearly negligent and appears to have some racial ignorance. I am not condoning the necessity to “pull the race card”, however, in this case I think Jackson had it right. This reporter should have known the difference between the two men and maybe should have researched his subject a bit better. I mean come on, the two look and sound nothing alike.

Now, there is in fact a small twist to this debate. Many are ranting in Rubin’s defense because there actually was a “Captain America 2” preview that aired during the super bowl in which Jackson is indeed in. I stress preview because I personally do not consider commercials and movie previews (trailers) the same. It was clear that Rubin was referring to the Fishburne Kia commercial (thinking it was Jackson) and not the movie preview. Rubin did not restate his question more clearly that he was referring to this “Captain America 2” preview, but instead remained completely flustered and attempted to change the subject several times. If it was me and it was just a simple mistake, I would have corrected myself and made it clear I was referring to his role as Nick Fury in the “Captain America 2” preview.

Rubin later did release a statement about the interview further explaining his intentions and defending his so-called journalistic integrity.

Things could have gone a lot worse and Rubin may not have been attacking Jackson per say, but his mix-up is an example of racial neglect and unfortunately I am not buying his excuses. I think this sort of “mistake” shows the reality of the naïve nature many people possess; it is just shameful it had to come out of a news reporter’s mouth and other media outlets are trying to cover up the bigger picture at hand.

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