Racism and Vidor
Photos by Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise
Watson Franks' television went blank during the Vidor segment of CNN's Paula Zahn Now special on racism at his home in Vidor Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006. Homes in Beaumont and Vidor were unable to get the CNN channel while the Vidor segment was aired. Immediately after the segment, the show resumed.
Watson Franks uses a remote control on his television after it went blank during the Vidor segment of CNN's Paula Zahn Now special on racism at his home in Vidor.
Ray Schultz of Dallas prepares a CNN satellite truck near sundown at Time Warner cable company in Nederland on Wednesday, December 13, 2006. A CNN story about racism in Vidor was interrupted on Tuesday at local Time Warner stations.
A CNN satellite truck is prepared for a live interview of Vidor's mayor by CNN's Paula Zahn at Time Warner cable company in Nederland. Vidor was previously known as a "sunset town." In the Old South, a sunset town was one where minorities were not welcome and often harassed or worse after sunset.
CNN reporter Keith Oppenheim talks with Paula Zahn via satellite at Time Warner cable company in Nederland. Oppenheim filed the original story about racism and Vidor. The Vidor-related segment of the CNN story about racism was interrupted on Tuesday at local Time Warner stations. Time Warner claims it was a technical glitch caused by a technician's human error.
Vidor Mayor Joe Hopkins (left) talks with CNN's Paula Zahn via satellite at Time Warner cable company.
Vidor Mayor Joe Hopkins talks with CNN's Paula Zahn via satellite at Time Warner cable company in Nederland. After initially accepting to host a CNN town hall meeting about racism in Vidor, he canceled the agreement and cited "security" as the reason.
I waited to post this story because it kept getting more interesting. I was scheduled to cover the CNN town hall meeting in Beaumont on Tuesday, but I ended up at a basketball game while Jennifer covered the meeting (I'm still not quite sure how this happened).
I've already said racism is a problem in Southeast Texas. CNN decided to give it some national attention. This caused some grumblings. However, when the Vidor segment of the Paula Zahn Now special on racism was about to air, homes in Vidor and Beaumont only saw dead air on CNN. (See the video)
It also took what could have been an embarrassing moment for Vidor and propelled it into a national incident. After speaking with Vidor's mayor, Paula Zahn's production wanted to host a town hall meeting about racism in Vidor.
First, the mayor said OK. Then, he changed his mind and canceled the meeting citing "security" as the reason.
Beaumont Mayor Guy Goodson helped move the meeting to Beaumont to examine this important issue.
Before the meeting, Zahn went to Vidor to interview Mayor Joe Hopkins. There was no security problem in Vidor while she visited. She then came to Beaumont and conducted the town hall meeting with all the panelists without a security incident.
Please read "When We Lost The CNN Signal" on Fayrouz's blog to understand this strange story.
Please also read "CNN racism forum raises issues for some" by Dee Dixon as well as the related links.