Sam Rubin, entertainment reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles, is being ridiculed far and wide for “mistaking Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne – while interviewing Jackson on live TV!”
Bulletin: That’s not what occurred.
Jackson was wrong, Rubin was correct, and Jackson’s long riff, funny as it was, about how white guys can’t tell black actors apart was both a cheap shot and viciously unfair. Rubin made no such mistake. Jackson owes him an apology. Watch this trailer:
Did you see that black actor in two places in the video? That was Samuel L. Jackson, not Laurence Fishburne. That video di run during the Super Bowl, and was obviously what Rubin was referring to when he began his question with “You’re working for Marvel…” Marvel Comics, the creators of Captain America, in which Laurence Fishburne has no role.
Maybe Jackson wasn’t aware that the trailer ran, but that’s no excuse: he essentially implied Rubin was a racist, unprepared, incompetent, and should be fired. Rubin was unprepared, all right—he was unprepared for a classic Jackson rant that he didn’t deserve. Rubin didn’t get Jackson mixed up with another black actor; Jackson jumped to an unjustified conclusion and unfairly made Rubin look like an idiot.
And what did our crack news media do, Rubin’s supposed colleagues? Yhey immediately presumed that Jackson had a racial “gotcha,” and mocked Rubin—for doing nothing wrong!
Rather than letting Rubin point out that Jackson was being a race-baiting jerk, KTLA made him apologize, which he did, in a classic “I’m apologizing but I have no idea for what but I’m going to say I did something wrong anyway” statement, saying…
“We start right now with the beauty and the occasional pain of live television. First and foremost, I do know who Samuel L. Jackson is. I’ve interviewed him several times over the years, but never quite like the conversation we just had. I indicated to Samuel that I’d seen him during the Super Bowl, and he thought that I had confused him with the commercial Laurence Fishburne had done for a car company. Of course a “Captain America” ad had also run during the Super Bowl, but I immediately felt so dumb, I didn’t bring that up — and he gave me the shellacking that was well deserved. I pride myself on the fact — that unlike a lot of people who do this kind of work — more often than not, I really do know what I’m talking about. But I didn’t 30 minutes ago, and I’m really embarrassed about it, and I very much apologize to Samuel L. Jackson and anyone else who was offended for what was a very amateur mistake.”
- How was he unprepared for the fact that Jackson had Fishburne on the brain?
- What was “amateur” about what he did?
- What justification did anyone, including Jackson, have to be “offended”?
- Why did Rubin deserve a shellacking because his guest didn’t know that a trailer of his own film, with him appearing in the trailer, had aired during the Super Bowl?
- Why is Rubin responsible for what Jackson mistakenly thought, when there was no reason for him to think it except his own bigotry, which obviously causes him to be ready at the drop of a hat to assume that white people think all blacks look alike?
- Why didn’t a single news, web or broadcast outlet (that I can find—there are hundred of links to sources saying that Jackson ripped a news anchor who mistook him for another black actor) have the integrity to point out that Jackson was mistaken and completely out of line? Or did none of them watch the beginning of the interview before piling on Rubin?
If a black celebrity says a white reporter is a racist, then he must be a racist, and it’s wrong, or at least perilous, to challenge him, I guess.
Samuel L. Jackson, and every lazy, gutless reporter and writer that blatantly misrepresented the incident because of their own biases owes Sam Rubin an apology.
[Further Ethics Alarms analysis of the Rubin-Jackson incident is here]