Yesterday I received an e-mail from a producer at CNN asking for Karen Cooper’s contact information. Apparently Don Lemon wanted to interview her. I thought this was an odd, even clueless inquiry, given what I have written about Ms. Cooper, but then this is Don Lemon’s producer, right? Given that Lemon sometimes comes across as clueless, I should not have been surprised.
This morning I received another inquiry about using material posted on the blog for a story on Ms. Cooper that’s about to appear. Once more, I was puzzled. What was going on?
A quick trip to a handy search engine revealed why. Karen Cooper’s become a celebrity, making her the ideal subject for sensational and superficial reporting. She’s become Confederate heritage’s answer to Kim Kardashian.
Here’s Ms. Cooper profiled in Salon. The reporter, picking up on Ms. Cooper’s now famous claim that slavery was a choice made by black people, asks:
Given that she just declared “death” the only viable response to slavery, it is somewhat odd that she then referred to herself as a “slave of the federal government,” saying that “I can’t smoke what I want to smoke, I can’t drink what I want to drink. If I want to put something into my body, it’s my body — not theirs. That’s tyranny!”
Of course, this is not the first time a Virginia Flagger has employed inconsistent logic in the effort to portray oneself as a victim.
But wait … there’s more. Take Guns.com. Or the New York Daily News. There’s the Washington Post. BET. The Inquisitr. The Independent (not a very independent report, as it comes from the Post). The Root (where’s John Stauffer when you need him … and we’re waiting for Skip Gates to chime in). At Cocoafab, the report offered this rather ungracious headline: “Crazy Black Woman Defends Confederate Flag and Slavery.” The Mirror includes reactions to the story.
CNN may be late to the party. Certainly The Daily Mail was.
Most of this reporting is rooted in the circulation of a documentary video highlighted on this blog. I hope the filmmaker’s enjoying the attention and getting the credit for the work.
What does this flurry of attention tell us? Not much, I’m afraid. The pack mentality of an insipid media increasingly devoted to recycling each other’s stories continues, as does an absolute failure of journalistic curiosity. As for the story itself, Ms. Cooper’s comments make it painfully clear that her interest in the flag stems not from a desire to honor the service of Confederate soldiers and sailors, but from a desire to make a political statement about her views today as she seeks acceptance from her fellow travellers. That the media can’t figure that out is testimony to its mediocrity.
At least Ms. Cooper’s receiving the attention that so many of her fellow flaggers crave.