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Coretta Scott King Coverage: What Does it Take to Get BET's Attention?



I am watching the Coretta Scott King funeral coverage on CNN and marveling at Bill Clinton's amazing ability to be our most magnetic ex-President ever, when I get the urge to channel surf a bit over the coverage.

Fox News? Check. C-SPAN? Check. MSNBC? Yup. Black Enetertainment Television?

Um, hold on.

As Clinton roused the house by reminding the congregation that there was a woman inside that casket who made tough choices throughout her life, BET was serving up a Busta Rhymes jam -- communicating their priorities in a single, searing instant.

I've never been one of those who thinks BET should be all things to all black people. But as the oldest black-focused TV outlet in the country, their priorities have an impact. What they cover says something.

And when they don't cover something, that makes a statement, too.

The cable channel has admitted choosing not to cover King's funeral live today, instead scheduling brief update reports and a special later in the day.

Why should Chris Matthews and Kyra Phillips be the only one dissecting the impact of the political speeches made at Mrs. King's graveside? Why shouldn't BET gather some strong, black intellects to dissect the meaning of her passing at this crucial time? (I'm told another black-oriented channel, TV One, did feature the funeral coverage live, but it's only avalable in the Tampa Bay area via digital cable)

As a subsidiary of Viacom, they don't even have the excuse of limited resources. Surely the death of a civil rights icon could bring a halt to the booty shaking videos, just for a moment?

As someone who badgered local cable systems to feature BET when I was a young college student, I gotta say I never imagined a day when the channel would pass up coverage of presidents speaking at Coretta Scott King's funeral for the umpteeth play of a Common video (oh yeah, you can watch streaming video of the coverage at

Time for Black Entertainment Television to find a new dream, I think. One that involves educating our young black people as much as entertaining them.


My pal and author Bob Andelman weighed in on the mug shots currently filling the SmokingGun web site from a stripper bust in Pasco County.

Already featured on Keith Olbermann's Countdown show last night, the Smoking Gun has an array of 25 mug shots from strippers arrested at six different clubs, all holding up makeshift booking signs with their alleged crime written along with their name.

Bob felt the whole display was somewhat exploitive, with no pics of the male strip club patrons. I felt it continued TSG's well-established fondness for the Stripper Mug Shot, second only to the Celebrity Mug Shot.

What do you think? Might they have gone too far this time?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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