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Civil rights, scapegoats, and social media: Unscripted brings us up to speed

April 16, 2014

From Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ recent resignation to Buzzfeed’s growing role in political coverage, Unscripted with Chuck Todd left no story unscrutinized in this week’s news cycle.

Todd ventured to Austin, Texas, last week for a Civil Rights Summit hosted by the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. In attendance was NFL legend Jim Brown, who spoke with Todd about his career as a simultaneous celebrity athlete and civil rights icon during the ’60s.

“The first thing that would happen in the morning when you’d get up is that you were reminded that you were black, and that was bad,” Brown said. “And so each and every day, you had to fight this kind of hate and not understand really why, but it was a struggle all the time.”

Todd also spoke with New Republic senior editor Jonathan Cohn regarding the Obama administration’s struggle with the Affordable Care Act. Though the administration states that 7.5 million Americans have enrolled for Obamacare, technological difficulties and unanticipated insurance refusals have sparked skepticism for the law’s effectiveness among both Democrats and Republicans.

“The first two months of the roll out of the Affordable Care Act — October to November — went very poorly…I mean [the management of healthcare.gov] was basically dysfunctional,” Cohn said. “Let’s hold [Sebelius] accountable, and I think that’s totally fair. On the other hand, that’s not the whole story. The final score of a baseball game isn’t what the score was in the second inning.”

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith spoke to Todd about his company’s growing role political coverage.

“In 2008, you were reading political blogs, you were obsessing about political blogs, and if you were writing, as I was, one of the blogs that people were talking about and reading, it was really fun,” Smith explained. “You were kind of the central channel for these sort of…micro-conversations all in total, whether it’s policy, or politics, or rumor, or gossip, or jokes, kind of add up to the sum total of the political landscape…And so when Jonah Peretti, who founded Buzzfeed…sort of came to me and said, ‘We have this website that’s all cat pictures.’ But really what it is is kind of an experiment in what people share.”