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Michael Arrington Is Not Racist

Article first published as Michael Arrington Is Not Racist on Technorati.

Michael Arrington was sandbagged by CNN. Arrington, founder and former editor of TechCrunch, and now running his own venture capital fund aptly dubbed CrunchFund, has been accused of being racist — a  completely ridiculous accusation.

Arrington sat down with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien back in July, for a documentary scheduled to air in November. According to the email sent by CNN to Arrington, which has been posted on his blog, Arrington was asked to participate in a documentary about the “Silicon Valley accelerator phenomenon and start-up culture.”

The email went on to say, “This particular documentary will be told through the experience of a group of digital entrepreneurs who travel to Silicon Valley to chase their dreams.” The email from CNN also called Arrington “GOD” of Silicon Valley, and TechCrunch “the Bible.” The email never stated that the real topic of the interview was the lack of minorities in Silicon Valley.

The documentary was previewed a few days ago, and CNN placed a clip from it on the front page of its website, featuring Arrington. In the clip, O’Brien asks him if he could name his favorite black entrepreneur, Arrington replied,  “I don’t know a single black entrepreneur.” This is the quote that started the whole argument.

I’m going to keep this short. If you have ever met, or spoken to Mike Arrington, you would find that he is as far from racist as you can get. Arrington, like most civilized people, doesn’t think in black and white.

“See, my brain database doesn’t categorize people in terms of skin color. Or hair color. Or sexual orientation,” Arrington said. “When I queried that database, under stressful circumstances, I got zero results.”

In the interview with CNN, Arrington went on to talk about Clarence Wooten — a black entrepreneur — his friend of nearly 20 years, who is the CEO of Arrived. Arrington is a shareholder in Arrived, and was Wooten’s lawyer for his first startup.

After the interview, Arrington said, “Soledad told me afterwards how much she loved that killer question. ‘Everyone pulls a blank, it’s perfect,’ she said. No one she interviewed had any idea that the real topic was about minority entrepreneurs.”

You could say that Arrington should know this information of the top of his head, as he covers the industry. But, if I asked an NFL analyst for an interview on rookies coming into the league, and then ask him to name his favorite Asian player or executive, I would most likely get blank stares. They won’t come up with Hines Ward, or Teddy Bruschi, off the top of their head, because people don’t think like that. Arrington is not a racist. Arrington, who works — in my opinion — the most culturally diverse industry outside of professional sports, doesn’t sort people by skin color, and neither should anyone.