By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Jul 26, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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The story of Shirley Sherrod moved briskly last week.

First pushed as a story of black racism, it turned into a tale of an out-of-context video clip disseminated by conservative bomb thrower Andrew Breitbart to a conservative media willing to jump on it.

So how did one of Milwaukee's top radio talkers handle the story -- both the original version and then the truth?

Charlie Sykes brought it up in the final hour of his WTMJ-AM (620) show on Tuesday morning.

"How big a story will this be?" he asked. "What is the standard applied to other conservative organizations? You have one nut-job, one person who is racially offensive in a conservative organization and it is endlessly and relentlessly drummed on as a sign that the entire organization must be racist.

"The same standard is never applied to the other side." 

On Wednesday morning, when he learned the truth, Sykes offered this:

"I do think that Shirley Sherrod was taken out of context. Throw the rocks at me, but I do. You watch the full video, I think that Breitbart edited the context from her remarks, which I think have a very different theme than what was originally portrayed. 

"So, yeah, he screwed up. And, yes, I screwed up, by buying that, as well as a number of people. And the Obama White House screwed up by pulling the trigger on this woman's job before they even heard her story."

By Sykes' Friday morning show, the story had changed.

The talker used a sound byte from the president saying Sherrod was dumped too quickly because Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles."

In fact, he played the clip twice. 

Charlie's mocking response: "In other words, it's the media's fault ... No, no, no, no ... in other words, the bucks stops -- someplace else."

While he didn't absolve Breitbart of responsibility, Sykes' take on the story had morphed into a critique of Barack Obama.

Kudos to Charlie for admitting that he was pushing a bogus Breitbart story and apologizing. But he quickly dropped the defense and moved back to his offense, playing the story as an anti-Obama one.

That's standard operating procedure for talk radio.

The return of Ted Perry: Channel 6 anchor Ted Perry is a pretty funny guy and he used to share his with with listeners to the Dave Luczak-Carole Caine morning show on WKLH-FM (96.5).

Then the station made a deal with Channel 12, to provide news and weather, and the Channel 6 anchor guy disappeared from its airwaves.

Well, WKLH says Ted's back for weekly visits starting this Thursday morning, but its partnership with Channel 12 continues.

On TV: Spin Hollywood got some valuable camera time on Sunday night's "Entourage" as Johnny Drama took on John Stamos in a climactic ping pong match. Can Spin Milwaukee be that glitzy when it opens this summer?

  • NBC says Linda Hamilton is joining "Chuck" this fall as Chuck's mom.
  • Alfred Molina will play a deputy district attorney on  NBC's new "Law & Order: Los Angeles." 
  • The Daily Mail says Oprah Winfrey has offered Sarah Ferguson a show on her new cable channel.
  • Remember when Amanda Bynes tweeted last month that she was retiring from acting? Ignore that.

For fans of "Dexter": The trailer for the fifth season of Showtime's "Dexter" is out and should whet the appetites of the show's loyalists waiting for the Sept. 26 season premiere:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.