Yosi Sergant, former NEA Communications Director, has finally broken his silence with respect to the events that led to his resignation last fall. For those of you who haven’t been following this story, the article linked above provides a good overview.
Sergant was interviewed by Hillel Aron, a grad student at USC who is (self-admittedly) a close friend of his, so it should basically be taken as Yosi’s statement. (This didn’t stop Patrick Courrielche from launching an attack on Aron — he’s got a brand to protect now, after all — which provoked an entertaining response from the interviewer.)
The article is mostly review, but is notable for several reasons:
- We get the back story on how Yosi became involved in the Obama campaign and administration, as well as lots and lots of fun photos, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- The article does not dwell on Sergant’s relationship with Courrielche, his former employer, and notes that it was Glenn Beck, not Courrielche, who originally put Sergant at the front and center of the story (though who knows what conversations the two men had prior to Beck’s show).
- It points out an item in the legislation authorizing the NEA that appears to render the conference call perfectly legal, an assertion that Courrielche’s rebuttal does not dispute.
- We learn that the conference call was simply one of many the White House Office of Public Engagement had set up with different groups in connection with United We Serve, only no one, even the Republicans who were apparently invited, seemed to think any of the others were controversial.
Anyway, this story is older than moldy cheese by now, so I don’t want to give it more life than it deserves (and Yosi, if the article is to be believed, sounds all too happy to move on). But I do think it’s important for arts advocates to familiarize themselves with the facts of this case (in particular, by reading the transcript) before casting judgments about it. This debacle was at best deeply unfair to Yosi Sergant and the NEA and at worst an instance of intentional, cold-blooded character assassination, and we should treat it as such with each other and the world.