The Washington Post

CNN’s O’Brien goes for a do-over

Last week, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien attacked Joel Pollak of for misinterpreting “critical race theory,” that body of thought now in the news thanks to the un-news of a hug between Barack Obama and then-Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell two decades ago. Pollak then asked O’Brien to defend her own interpretation of Bell’s defining academic work. That led to something of a fail on part of the CNN host, who mouthed a helping of boilerplate:

Critical race theory looks into the intersection of race and politics and the law and as a legal academic who would study this and write about it, [Bell] would advance the theory about what exactly happened when the law was examined in terms of racial politics.

Based on that definition, Pollak returned the favor, charging O’Brien with misinterpreting the theory.

O’Brien apparently felt the sting, because this morning she revisited the topic with Dorothy Brown, a law professor at Emory University. Over a seven-minute segment, O’Brien and Brown agreed that Pollak and had it wrong in every possible way. As a CNN viewer, I’ll gladly take the initial, contentious segment over O’Brien’s chorus-of-consensus do-over.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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