Every now and then, I toss off notes to reporters when I hear them uttering obvious absurdities in the vain belief that it might actually increase their consciousness about the issue under discussion.
Two days ago, I sent a tweet to CNN anchor Ali Velshi about an interview he did with the Park 51 developer Sharif El-Gamal, taking him to task for labeling the Park 51 project “controversial” in his remarks to El-Gamal.
The Kenyan-born Velshi, a Muslim by birth, has been moving over from CNBC where he was a business reporter to CNN where he has a couple of episodic weekend shows and share co-anchoring duties with the never-ending parade of CNN anchors, where he is one of the most distinctive presences on the anchor desk.
A sharp dresser who favors three-piece suits, Velshi often takes surprisingly moderate positions for a “business” reporter in an age where business reporting often suffers from Republican undertones.
Because he is such an affable personality, whenever he takes a misstep it jars the consciousness of the viewer moreso than when one of the empty-headed talk meisters sticks foot in mouth.
That’s why I took such strong except to Velshi’s labeling of El-Gamal’s project controversial when, in fact, it was only controversial to an extremely small group of people who saw an opportunity for them to get their ten minutes of fame by opposing the construction of a Muslim community center several blocks away from Ground Zero.
Let’s face facts. Ground zero was a term invented for the impact point for a nuclear weapon. The World Trade Center isn’t ground zero because it is still there. Stop calling it Ground Zero. It never was and never will be.
I don’t believe that the World Trade Center site was sanctified by what happened there. That’s a rank prejudice that results from fundamentalist thinking.
So, I took Velshi to task in a couple of tweets, as follows:
@AliVelshi @Park51 @CNNam ...except for people who are seeking a controversy to enhance their own visibility. Don't pander to them, please.
I was shocked and gratified when I received this reply from Velshi:
AliVelshi Ali Velshi
@alanmilner I totally hear your point thanks for this
I felt heard. I don't know if that's going to change behavior, but it will cause me to pay more attention to what other commentators are saying and I will take them to task to see if they are as responsible as Velshi has been.