What Happened to All the Black Voices on the Cable News Shows?

Is it just me, or do the airwaves seem less… colorful… since the wrapup of the 2008 elections?

I was thinking about that when a commentary from E.J. Dionne Jr in the Washington Post, titled Rush and Newt Are Winning, caught my eye (and lots of other folks on the blogosphere as well):

A media environment that tilts to the right is obscuring what President Obama stands for and closing off political options that should be part of the public discussion.

…the media… regularly treat(s) far-right views as mainstream positions and… largely ignor(es) critiques of Obama that come from elected officials on the left.

This was brought home at this week’s annual conference of the Campaign for America’s Future, a progressive group that supports Obama but worries about how close his economic advisers are to Wall Street, how long our troops will have to stay in Afghanistan and how much he will be willing to compromise to secure health-care reform.

In other words, they see Obama not as the parody created by the far right but as he actually is: a politician with progressive values but moderate instincts who has hewed to the middle of the road in dealing with the economic crisis, health care, Guantanamo and the war in Afghanistan.

While the right wing’s rants get wall-to-wall airtime, you almost never hear from the sort of progressive members of Congress who were on an America’s Future panel on Tuesday.

Continue reading

Fox News: Obama is an “Angry Black Man”; Why Should He Go on the O’Reilly Show?

The “angry black male” is one of America’s enduring stereotypes. The image of the emotional and violence-prone black man goes back to the days of slavery (see Nat Turner), and reached its political zenith in the negative-imagining of Jesse Jackson during his runs for president. I’ll never forget a Newsweek magazine cover from the period that featured a picture of an impassioned Jackson, his faced contorted with emotion, in a way that no doubt scared the bejesus out of any white American who saw it.

Being called an angry black male is not a good thing.

Is it no wonder, then, that Fox News played the ABM card on Barack Obama? Witness this from a broadcast of Fox’s Cavuto on Business show on August 30, featuring writer/economist/actor Ben Stein:

Note that Stein says Obama is an angry black male without giving any reason or explanation for the charge. Show host Neil Cavuto did not challenge Stein’s claim; instead, he echoes it. Meanwhile, neither Stein nor Cavuto make mention of John McCain’s well documented anger management issues.

Interestingly, an African American who was on the show – Charles Payne, a Fox Business Network contributor – said nothing regarding Stein’s angry black male charge. Thanks, bro.

(Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who is an Illinois congressman, made the point in a Democratic Convention forum that Obama is like baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson — he must endure jeers and not to hit back “because no one wants an angry African American in the White House.”)

But there’s nothing new to Fox’s use of race-based and otherwise insulting attacks on Obama. Consider the following:

• In February, in response to a caller who described Michelle Obama as a “militant woman,” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly offensively stated that he “didn’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence.”

• In May, Fox News’ Liz Trotta referred to Obama as “Osama” and then joked that both should be “knocked off.” Fox later apologized.

• In June, Fox News’ E.D. Hill described a fist bump between Obama and his wife Michelle as a “terrorist fist jab.” Fox later apologized.

• In June, a Fox producer described Michelle Obama by using the offensive slang term “Obama’s Baby Mama.” Fox later apologized.

• In June, Fox aired a smear/rumor from Republican operative Roger Stone that there was a tape of Michelle Obama using the term “Whitey.” The tape never surfaced, however.

• Since last year, Fox News has been echoing false rumors that Obama attended a so-called “madrassa” Islamic fundamentalist school as a child.

I have no doubt there are many more instances of unfair and unbalanced coverage of Obama by Fox.

Continue reading

Defending Michelle Obama

It is great to see so many in the Afrosphere/Afrospear stand up for Michelle Obama. She has been the subject of many attacks that seem to be uniquely based on her ethnic origin.

The Black Snob addresses the issue head on:

Look at the image of angry black women on television. Politically you have Maxine Waters of California, liberal Democrat. She’s always angry every time she gets on television. Cynthia McKinney, another angry black woman. And who are the black women you see on the local news at night in cities all over the country. They’re usually angry about something. They’ve had a son who has been shot in a drive-by shooting. They are angry at Bush. So you don’t really have a profile of non-angry black women. — Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas on Michelle Obama being an “angry black woman,” FOX News Watch, June 14.

Black people have long had to live with the stigma that we’re rougher and more horrifying than other people. That somehow we’re more violent and scary and immoral, stereotypes that have existed since wealthy white landowners had to come up with excuses why it was OK to enslave an entire group of people. Black men are menacing and black women are vulgar harridans, screaming obscenities while engaging ball busting.

Many were appalled at Cal Thomas for bringing up the “angry black woman” meme, viewing it as both racist and sexist, and it is. When other women speak their mind, they’re just talking. When a black woman says why she’s proud of America after seeing the results of her husband’s historical campaign she’s an awful witch who wants to destroy all white people. The complete 360 degree turn of hyperbole is attempted over and over again. And with so few images of black women in the media it’s easy to fall back on old stereotypes — the whore, the mammy and the bitch.

Michelle Obama is too chaste and married to be a whore, too independent and smart to be a mammy, so all that’s left is the bitch. And that is the category all educated, independent minded, straight-no-chaser women, black or white, are put in.

The Jack and Jill web site asks, where are the feminists who defended Hillary Clinton against sexists attacks, and why aren’t they defending Michelle Obama? It’s a good question, and there hasn’t been a good answer that I’ve seen.

Heck, even Laura Bush has defended Michelle Obama.

Meanwhile, the Michelle Obama Watch site has been created to, in the site’s words, to be “a repository of all of the criticism, praise, and general chicanery thrown at Michelle Obama between now and November.” It’s worth a quick look.

Political Musings 6/24/08

One effect of the long, drawn-out Democratic presidential primary was the toll it took on presidential candidate Barack Obama’s financial warchest.

Through the end of May, the Obama campaign raised $287,397,945, and spent $244,250,611. At the end of May, the campaign had $43,147,333 million on hand. This information is available from the excellent web site OpenSecrets.org.

Through the same period, the McCain campaign raised $119,594,596. But because his expenditures were lower-the GOP race was decided long ago-McCain had only spent $83,633,159. He had $35,961,436 million on hand at the end of May.

As noted out by Truthout.Org:

For the first time in the campaign, Republican John McCain in May raised about the same amount of money, $22 million, as Democrat Barack Obama…

Obama spent $27 million in May… $4 million for television ads, $3.3 million for travel, $3 million for direct mail, and nearly another $3 million for phone banking. He spent another $1.7 million on print advertisements and nearly another million dollars on Internet ads.

Meanwhile, McCain spent just $12 million. The Arizona senator dropped about $3.5 million on television ads and spent another $1.4 million on postage. No other spending category for the month of May reached a million dollars.

Having effectively wrapped up his party’s nomination, McCain spent the month focused almost exclusively on replenishing his coffers. His schedule was dominated by money-generating events that helped produce his biggest fundraising month to date.

This is one reason why some folks were hoping Sen Hillary Clinton would concede the Democratic presidential race earlier than she did…

Barack Obama has decided to opt-out of public financing for his general election campaign. This caused John McCain, as the LA Times put it, to have a “hissy fit.”

Continue reading