Category: The Media

Obama Campaign Addresses Black Economic Issues; Did You Hear About It?

{Hats off to the South Florida Times, an African American news source, for the article referenced below.}.

Some observers of the Obama campaign complain that it is not doing enough to speak to the specific concerns of the black community.

But what if the campaign was speaking to the concerns of the black community… and nobody knew it?

Consider this article in the South Florida Times, in which the Obama campaign does speak specifically to African American economic issues. I don’t recall any reporting of this in the mainstream press. But then, this is not of real interest to the “general public”:

Black unemployment in the United States reached 10.6 percent last month, up from 9.7 percent in July and an average of 8.8 percent during the first quarter of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Obama campaign seized on the statistic to attack both the Bush administration and the John McCain campaign.

The McCain campaign in Florida did not respond to a request for comment.

“I wish we could say that reaching 10.6 percent is the highest unemployment we’ve had under this administration,” said former Bill Clinton administration Labor Secretary Alexis Herman during a conference call with members of the black press Tuesday. “But we’ve actually seen rates as high as 11.5 percent.’’

Herman and other surrogates said economic issues would take center stage in an Obama presidency, and they assailed what Herman called “a constant economic deterioration for the African-American community” under George W. Bush. The overall unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent last month, with unemployment for whites at 4.9 percent and for Hispanics at 7.7 percent.

“We’ve actually lost more than 500,000 jobs in the African-American community,” since Bush took office in 2001, including 55,000 jobs since December 2007, Herman said, citing U.S. Department of Labor statistics and contrasting the grim numbers of what she called record low unemployment, “the lowest since the Department of Education began collecting the data” during the Clinton years.

“The fact is that when you look at the unemployment numbers” under Bush, she said, “we have lost good jobs in our community, particularly in construction and manufacturing, where we are disproportionately employed. Any attempts to continue to open the doors of the middle class and to move us up the economic ladder really have been stopped dead in its tracks by this administration.”

Herman said that by contrast, Obama has proposed increasing the minimum wage from the current $6.55 to $9.50 by 2011, which she said would disproportionately help black women, plus a “long-term plan to target urban areas” for economic development, rebuilding the infrastructure of American cities, ending tax breaks for employers who ship jobs overseas and providing tax breaks for companies that create jobs in the U.S.

It is worth noting that the comments from the Obama campaign on the black economy were made around the same time as the “lipstick on a pig” controversy. Guess which of those two news stories was widely reported, and which was not?

I encourage you to go the South Florida Times’ website to read the rest of the article, and browse through the site’s other contents as well.

(Off Topic) CBS Gets Punked by the McCain Campaign. Are They Acting Like Punks Now?

In the brouhaha over the lipstick faux controversy, an even bigger issue was overlooked by the media: the McCain campaign’s false and misleading use of the words and images of CBS news anchor Katie Couric in the original version of the lipstick ad.

In the initial version of the ad that was posted on YouTube, footage of Couric complaining about sexism (specifically, the way that Hillary Clinton was treated by the media) was added at the end. The way the editing was done, it appeared that Couric was criticizing Obama for sexism; the ad was clearly constructed to have that effect.

The ad was pulled from Youtube after CBS asked it be removed. A CBS News spokesperson stated that “CBS News does not endorse any candidate in the presidential race. Any use of CBS personnel in political advertising that suggests the contrary is misleading.”

And that’s all well and good. But shouldn’t CBS be saying more than that?

This is a case where the image of a major figure on a major network was misappropriated and misused for political purposes. Where is the outrage?

I would have expected, at the least, an on-air statement that “Katie Couric’s image was used in a fraudulent manner by the McCain campaign. Many of you don’t know this. We want the viewers to know.”

And they could have taken that further by saying “We want the McCain campaign to issue an apology.” And even further: “We want an assurance that it won’t happen again.”

If something like that happened to NBC, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann would have made a 15 minute special comment to decry the egregious behavior of the McCain campaign. (Heck, Olbermann probably wishes this had happened to NBC.)

But CBS did none of that. I hate to be cruel and crude, but I have to say it: the dispassionate statement by CBS amounts to, in street terms, a punk’s response. It’s tone and tenor was nowhere near proportionate to the level of the offense. I’ve seen slaps on the wrist that are harsher.

Let me make it clear: this is not about McCain or the GOP or Palin. This is about a news network taking a stand for its integrity and respect. If CBS can’t stand up for themselves, how can they stand up for their viewers, who are expecting CBS to be a strong and independent voice for the reporting of the news?

Perhaps, after being burned by the controversies involving Dan Rather, CBS is fearful of another charge of liberal bias from the Republican Party. I can sympathize with those concerns.

But the news business is not a place for the weak of heart. If CBS is going to be so reticent that it can’t properly respond to such a blatantly fraudulent use of their top newscaster, then they might as well sell the network to somebody who has the spine to do so.