In the ’50s, it was Communism that had everyone jumping at shadows; today it’s the Internet.
Malcom X spoke about the power of the media and how it could influence people’s thinking. He pointed out that during World War II American media told us to hate the German’s and love the Russians. After World War II, American media told us to love the German’s (not all were Nazi’s), and hate the Russians. As a student of history I never forgot that, and always respected the power the media can wield.

The Internet is the new hotbed of information. Skilled journalists as well as ‘wanna-bes’ and bloggers freely voice their opinions on the web. And words from both the really mean-spirited, outrageous, and the most excellent, and heartwarming go viral for the world to see.

Careers are made and tarnished via the Internet, especially in Hollywood, and in the political world. Airing another’s dirty laundry is a guaranteed hit–sex tapes; as well as public and private drunkenness is captured on video and displayed on the Internet for the world to see.

English author and journalist, George Orwell, in his classic novel “1984” warned that “Big Brother is watching you.” The novel, released in 1949 is Orwell’s vision of a society, where cameras and computers spy on everyone’s movements for political control.

Today the phrase ‘Big Brother is watching you’ takes on a whole new meaning. Anyone with the ability to write and spell their name, or own a cell phone with video capability can have their say on the Internet for the purpose of good, or evil.

By now you have surely heard about Shirley Sherrod, former United States Department of Agriculture official who was summarily fired from her position, after conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart, posted an incomplete video clip of her speech on the web. The speech, as presented had racist’s overtones, and as a result she was fired from her position without being able to defend herself or clarify the point she was attempting to make during her speech at a local NAACP event.

The ‘fear-factor’ reared its ugly head and without investigation, she was fired. And to make matters worse, the NAACP came out in support of the action. Unfortunately, no one had taken the time to wait to view the entire video before making such a rash decision. FOX was already running the damaging clip on the air.

Of course, in the end, when Sherrod, who calls Albany, Ga. home, received national media attention, with the White farmer and his wife, and even Willie Nelson coming to her rescue.

Administration officials and the NAACP decided to look at the entire video and had to do a lot of apologizing and butt kissing. That’s fear, people.

We’re giving power to the disenfranchised individuals who have an ax to grind. But fortunately for us, we still have journalists who search for the truth, get the facts and often clean up the mess these malcontents create.

The Internet is not evil. It is a source for information that can bring people together from around the world for a common cause. It entertains and gives us a window into the homes and lives of people of all races and creeds. But, we have to use this powerful tool wisely and not take what you read, see or even hear at face value.

I have no doubt that new ‘rumor control’ and video clip policies will be instituted for the current administration. We expect our government to be tougher and more courageous than what was demonstrated. We already know President Barack Obama has some ‘thick’ skin, or he wouldn’t be the first Black president in the history of this country. His people should learn how to handle the pressure; it just comes with the territory, when you’re working for a Black man.

The National NAACP also should have known better. I do hope as a result of this embarrassing incident, their policies will change as well. If you want to see the Sherrod’s clip in its entirety visit the NAACP web site at www.naacp.org.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.