A Head Rolls at the NEA: Communications Director Asked to Resign -- UPDATE: 'Reassigned' Not 'Resigned'
UPDATE: Wash. Times is reporting Sergant has not resigned from the NEA, but was reassigned. He "is no longer Director of Communications." END UPDATE.
From the Washington Times:
Yosi Sergant has been asked to resign from his post as Communications Director for the National Endowment for the Arts[.]
Big Hollywood’s Partrick Courrielche broke the story of these – to say the least – controversial NEA conference calls on August 25th, calls obviously designed to promote President Obama’s domestic agenda, especially health care.
The Washington Times picked up on the story, contacted NEA Communications Director Sergant and asked him about the calls. He denied the NEA was responsible for sending out the conference call email invitations:
WASHINGTON TIMES: Hey, I understand that there was a conference call on August 10th that the NEA invited producers, artists, marketers, etcetera.
SERGANT: The NEA didn’t invite…We were a participant in a call. It was a third party that did the invitation.
WASHINGTON TIMES: I see. I was wondering If you could send me, if possible, a copy of the invitation?
SERGANT: Umm…It didn’t come from us, so I don’t have it to distribute. You’d go to them for that.
Courrielche’s follow-up piece proved the complete opposite was true. Not only had the invites come from the NEA but from Sergant himself.
During all this Glenn Beck picked up the story:
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This past Sunday on “This Week,” George Will wondered if the NEA hadn’t broken a few laws. Coerrielche followed this up on Tuesday with a post complete with contradictory audio with Sergant claiming a filmmaker named Michael Skolnick was the “third party” responsible for the conference call, and Skolnick matter-of-factly stating he was asked by “folks” in the White House and NEA to “bring artists together.”
Predictably, the Huffington Post spin on today's resignation announcement is to make it look like this is some kind of right-wing witch hunt led by Glenn Beck:
Beck attacked Sergant and the NEA on his Fox News talk show, accusing the agency of propaganda efforts similar to those used by Nazi Germany. And now Sergant has been tossed overboard, making him Beck's second victim in his campaign to rid the administration of perceived radicals, socialists, communists, fascists, anarchists and all other manner of nefarious influences. ...
Sergant is, by all accounts, a highly-talented grassroots organizer and promoter, but communications director for the NEA is a position that requires a high level of political dexterity: the arts agency is constantly under fire from extremist activists who see it as propagating a liberal, libertine agenda. The day the culture war is finally declared over, there will still be skirmishes over the NEA.
No one’s arguing there’s a culture war, but if Sergant wanted to be a General on the front-lines he should’ve kept his story straight and not arrogantly assumed every artist puts partisanship above principle.
SECOND UPDATE: Patrick Courrielche responds to the news of Sergant's reassignment here. END UPDATE.