Breaking Brown

October 31, 2011

soledad o’brien responds

There are always two sides to every story. Kudos to CNN’s Soledad O’brien for sharing hers:

As the conversation heated up, Arrington wrote a blog post — titled “Oh sh*t, I’m a racist” — in which he accuses me of bullying him in our 30 minute interview.

But the reality is very different. Our interview was pleasant, not the light-in-the-eyes third degree Arrington is now recounting in his blog. We were at an AOL office with the publicists who negotiated the interview.

Ron Conway, a major investor in startups like Foursquare and Twitter, listened in on the interview. Afterward, Arrington introduced us and encouraged me to interview Conway, which I did. Parts of that interview are featured in the documentary as well. Then Arrington invited me to a party.

In his blog Arrington says CNN “went to great lengths to hide the topic of the interview.” He posts an early e-mail from one of my producers asking him for a general interview about the tech industry.

He omits the second e-mail we sent four days before the interview that spells out that the documentary is about a “group of entrepreneurs we are following who are participating in the NewMe accelerator. The first accelerator of its kind set up specifically for entrepreneurs of color. Their inspiring stories will be the focus of this CNN Black in America documentary.”

Arrington may’ve had a chance of emerging from this controversy unscathed had the interview not been recorded. From where I sit, Soledad wasn’t twising his arm or flashing floodlights in his tender eyes. In fact, O’brien offered Arrington two opportunities to answer the question of whether there were black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Arrington answered, rather offhandedly, that there weren’t any. Then, when it came out that he not only knows them, but has funded at least one black CEO via The Crunch Fund, Arrington sought to shift the blame (and unflattering media attention) to Soledad O’brien. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s best just to say sorry.

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