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.