Showing posts with label Fox News Race Baiting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fox News Race Baiting. Show all posts

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Right-Wing Rage Machine

Unloads a Frenzy of Race-Baiting

Media Matters

The summer months are typically when the quality of political discourse in this country reaches its yearly nadir. Washington tends to slow down from June to August, and people who hold moderate interest in the political process instead turn to barbecues and baseball games. As a consequence, the people who remain engaged are those who are more, let's say, passionate in their beliefs, and aren't going to let a little thing like "other things to do" get in the way of their political activism. Summer is also tough for political journalists who still have deadlines to meet, but much less material with which to work. As a consequence, we see stories that would ordinarily merit passing or no mention earn disproportionate coverage. Minor gaffes become "scandals," non-issues become "controversial," and the end result is that pretty much everyone gets angrier.

It's in this environment that the right-wing media thrive, practiced as they are in ginning up stories based on manufactured outrage and utter nonsense. And lately, they've all had one topic on their minds: race. Specifically the racism of black political figures, which they claim is nothing short of institutional policy in the Obama administration, and the racism of white tea partiers, which they claim doesn't exist.

And where else can one begin except with the ever-evolving, increasingly ridiculous New Black Panther Party "scandal," which revolves around the allegation -- and it's hard to believe that right-wingers actually profess to believe this -- that the Obama Justice Department dropped voter intimidation charges against members of this fringe hate group due to the administration's official policy of not pursuing cases in which the defendant is black and the victim is white. Is there evidence for any of this? No. Does the partisan GOP hack/former DOJ attorney making this allegation have any facts to support it? Not so much. But that's the story they're sticking to, and it has sparked a frenzy of race-baiting more explicit than any we've seen thus far during the Obama administration.

Fox News has, of course, been leading the charge, embarking on what Jonathan Chait calls "the most widespread and mainstream right-wing effort to exploit racial fears against Obama." Glenn Beck nonsensically claimed that the New Black Panthers "have ties to the White House" and flat-out accused the administration of tacitly endorsing the "race war" he sees coming down the pike. Perpetually outraged Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the "straight news" driving force behind the bogus story, has been corrected on the facts more times than should be necessary, but continues to hype the story with wide-eyed indignation.

In some ways, that's to be expected from Fox News. The danger is that, with not much else going on and the right-wing rage machine operating at high speed, the bogus story starts bleeding into the mainstream press. Kelly herself boasted that Fox News "dragged the media kicking and screaming" to the New Black Panther story, and already there have been overly credulous treatments of the non-scandal on CNN and in the pages of The Washington Post.

The obverse to the right-wing media's fact-free claims of racism at the Justice Department are their assurances, contrary to the facts, that there exists no racism in the tea party movement. After the NAACP signaled its intention to pass a resolution condemning the "racist elements" within the tea party, conservatives went ballistic, claiming that the many, many, many, many, many examples of tea party racism and bigotry simply don't exist. And nothing will convince them otherwise -- not the many photographs of racist placards at tea party rallies (if Sean Hannity couldn't find them, they must not exist!), nor the word of civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (he's a liar!).

Bigoted, racial attacks from conservatives against Obama aren't anything new. Hell, not even a week after he announced his intention to run for the presidency, they were excitedly spreading false rumors that he spent his childhood in a madrassa. But this past month has been something different. Gone are the code words, the winks and nods, and the dog whistles -- the conservative media are openly and aggressively trying to turn Obama's race into something threatening. You can chalk it up to the heat, the summer doldrums, or whatever. The fact is that they're going down roads from which there is no coming back, and it's only going to get worse as the summer rolls on.

RELATED ARTICLE: Bush ally: Black Panther story a 'fantasy' to 'topple Obama'

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