Green Room

Our paranoid, race-baiting media

posted at 12:21 am on September 18, 2009 by

The Obama presidency is running into growing opposition — as presidencies tend to do. However, for some reason, the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut was interested in a racial hypothesis:

[White House communications director Anita] Dunn played down the role that race could have in fueling the rancor. “I think that is less a part of it than some other people might think,” she said.

It may be true, as Allahpundit suggests, that the White House refuses to accuse its opponents of racism directly because “every last halfwit in big media is happily willing to do it for them.” But these statements are not mutually exclusive. When Dunn speaks of “some other people,” she may well be thinking of the legacy media.

She may be thinking of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who hears racist voices in her head. She may be thinking of the Washington Post coulmists Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne — or the paper’s media critic, Howard Kurtz. She may be thinking of TIME’s Joe Klein, as big a hypocrite as he may be on the subject. She may have read a McClatchy newspaper story about it. She may be thinking of the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder, who confesses to hearing an inner Maureen Dowd voice. She may be thinking of The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg. She may be thinking of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, or NBC’s Today show, which featured more imaginary voices in the head. She may be thinking of ABC News, or possibly CNN.

She may be thinking of the White House press corps, a sizeable portion of which wanted to drag Pres. Obama into their delusion after ex-Pres. Carter claimed that the “overwhelming” portion of animosity towards Obama is racist. Obama flack Robert Gibbs — despite saying that Pres. Obama did not think race was a factor — was badgered about it:

“Are you saying that the President is not concerned about the climate of hate in this country today?”

“You don’t think it’s race-based?”

“Robert, did the President see President Carter’s remarks and read them, in full?”

“Robert, just to put a fine point on it, speaking for the President, do you believe he disagrees with what Jimmy Carter said last night, fundamentally?”

“Would the President regard statements from such a prominent American, a former President, a son of the South, as he described himself, helpful in the whole country’s understanding or comprehensive or conversation about this subject, of his presidency, race, and criticism of his policy?”

“There’s obviously the President. Why is he or why are you so reluctant to talk about it? I mean, you were reluctant to talk about the House vote on Joe Wilson. You’re reluctant to talk about — I guess my question really is that he gave this big speech during the campaign on race. There’s now a conversation that’s risen to the level of a former President about race. Can we expect him to talk about that, to address it in any way, or is your hope to keep him away from this conversation and focused on other things?”

“If the incident in Cambridge was viewed in the President’s eyes as a teachable moment for the country, why is this not a teachable moment, in terms of the role that race is playing in society?”

“What impact does it have when a former President of the United States, someone who came from the South, someone who worked against discrimination all of his career, says that the — what was it — an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity is because he’s black? What effect does that have on the country when a former President says that?”

And so on.

On this topic, the legacy media have turned from investigatory journalism to hallucinatory journalism. To assist those still hearing voices in their heads, let’s use a visual aid:

For Carter to be correct, we would have to assume that a large portion of the population was unaware in late 2008 and early 2009 that Barack Obama is a person of color, or that an increasing portion of the public is turning racist. Occam’s Razor suggests the correct answer is that Carter is an unhinged, race-baiting demagogue.

And contrary to some White House correspondent, there is not “a national conversation going on about race and the role it has or hasn’t played in some of the hostility” toward the president. Only 12% of likely voters hold Carter’s view, most of whom are Democrats. Only 20% of registered voters hold Carter’s view, 34% of Democrats. Those figures are comparable to the 35% of Democrats who believed in 2007 that George Bush knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks. It is a view held by a minority of a minority. The legacy media’s seeming obsession with the notion says far more about them than the president’s critics.

Of course, establishment journalism’s delusions about the Right extend beyond the casual imputation of racism. The legacy media has also been obsessed with the idea that the Right is thisclose to boiling over into violent revolution. Reason’s Jesse Walker has a must-read essay detailing the paranoid style in center-left politics and the history of past “brown scares” waged against the Right. In the current debate over ObamaCare, if the Obama=Hitler signs are actually the work of Lyndon LaRouche nuts who support Canadian-style medicine, the legacy media will not notice. If furthering the narrative of the “angry white man” opposition to ObamaCare requires MSNBC to lop off the head of an African-American man holding a rifle with a video editor, so be it. These acts and omissions further a “larger truth,” which is to say a narrative not tethered to reported fact.

At this point, I should take a moment to concede that some of Pres. Obama’s critics may well be racists, and may hold extreme views. On the other hand, I can find Hispanics in New Jersey (most of whom are likely not members of Radical Right) who think that Obama is the Anti-Christ, or are “birthers” or “truthers.” Indeed, the same poll has half of the African-Americans surveyed as truthers.

We could also look at the 2005 study which showed that a majority of blacks believed that a cure for AIDS was being withheld from the poor; that nearly half believed that AIDS was man-made, with a quarter believing that it was created in a US government laboratory and 12 percent naming the CIA as its source. Such fringe conspiracy theories were peddled by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Pres. Obama counted as his spiritual adviser until Wright’s comments before the National Press Club made his extremism politically impossible to dismiss. Extremism is not difficult to find in any large demographic, but the legacy media only sees it selectively.

Many on the Right presume the legacy media acts as it does to marginalize the president’s critics and to cover up the extremism to be found on the Left. However, that is a fairly charitable hypothesis. In discussing the (forced) resignation of Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones, lefty blogger-activist Jane Hamsher not only noted that 35% of Democrats were truthers, but suggested that such extreme views were broadly held by the liberal institutional elite, who are presumably better informed and educated on politics than the general public. Thus, the question presents itself as to whether the legacy media covers extremism as it does due to extremism within the legacy media.

Continuing with the Van Jones case, consider that the New York Times failed to cover the story until he was forced out, and then with this lede: “In a victory for Republicans and the Obama administration’s conservative critics, Van Jones resigned as the White House’s environmental jobs “czar” on Saturday.” The news was not — and never was to the NYT — that Van Jones had been a communist Truther; the news was that conservatives had somehow won a victory. No wonder that Tom Brokaw and Tom Friedman took to NBC’s Meet The Press to blame the messenger.

Similarly, in covering the ongoing scandals plaguing Pres. Obama’s old friends at ACORN, the first headline from the NYT did not address the substance of the scandals, but proclaimed: “Conservatives Draw Blood From Acorn.” Other outlets, including the L.A. Times, had the same take on the story. It might be argued that the NYT and the LAT are covering the story up, but ABC World News Tonight anchor Charlie Gibson was unaware there even was an ACORN story. Moreover, some of the questions from the White House presser quoted above were lobbed by Helen Thomas, and few can doubt that she is so fully marinated in her left-wing extremism that she sees no manipulation or dishonesty in what she is doing.

The picture that emerges may not be that of clever, biased journalists highlighting extremism on the Right and whitewashing it on the Left. The picture may be of intellectually lazy, incurious, knee-jerk liberal journalists for whom the extremism of the Left does not register as all that extreme, and for whom the concerns of half the population do not even register as legitimate subjects of news coverage.

In short, we may be looking at a case for Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Of course, I would not want to engage in the same sort of gross generalizations discussed above. Life is just too complex for that. Accordingly, we could also employ Heinlein’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.”

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In the early weeks of his presidency, Obama’s approval in the polls was very high. Guess we weren’t racist then. Then after various actions (and inactions) his ratings began to plummet. Now we are racists. Seems to be a cause and effect relationship. Obama, single-handedly has turned us into a nation of racists. There’s your history-making President.

texabama on September 18, 2009 at 7:04 AM

As with Islamic terrorist nutcases, let’s give these people all the rope they need to hang themselves. If they think that slandering tens of millions of conservatives/independents/wavering Democrats as racists is a winning strategy for the next election, then have at it, hoss.

Track-A-'Crat on September 18, 2009 at 9:15 AM

Great essay Karl, as usual…

I posted along the same lines at Dan Collins’ POWIP yesterday

I’m going to link to this one too in an update…

RocketmanBob on September 18, 2009 at 9:18 AM

It’s going to be interesting to see how Barry’s betrayal of Eastern Europe is going to play out in the polls over the next few weeks.

Of course, that makes me a racist for even wondering about it. I can live with it.

MarkTheGreat on September 18, 2009 at 9:19 AM

hallucinatory journalism

Love it.

rbj on September 18, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Back in ye olden days of the 1950s and 60s the media was still liberal, but they still had a limit about how far they were willing to go into nakedly obvious advocacy journalism. That’s why papers like The Village Voice were created, because there was a group of journalists who pined for the type of reporting the big media is offering up today.

But the overt advocacy journalism invasion of the major media outlets dates at the very least to the late 1980s, when the media tried to turn Iran-Contra into the next Watergate and the post-Abe Rosenthal New York Times started having Page 1 MoDo stories on Ronald Reagan based on Kitty Kelley books. The got away with that for the better part of 15 years, but with the rise of the internet and alternative news outlets being widely disseminated across the nation and the world, the big media people had two choices – either back off the advocacy journalism and go back to the older style of reporting to avoid losing readers and viewers to other news sites, or double down on that type of reporting in an attempt to crush your ideological foes.

Given the elitism among the top N.Y.-D.C. media types, it was obvious which route they were going to take. And since so many of them think they’re smarter than they are (smarter than even Obama’s mighty brain trust!) they try to ignore the bad stories as if they still have a monopoly on the news, while the pundits trot out these obtuse strategies for Obama to use, as if the Democrats haven’t already considered them, or in some cases even tried them and found out they’ve backfired.

jon1979 on September 18, 2009 at 9:22 AM

While the race-baiting is incendiary and damaging to the national dialogue–it sure is helping Obama crater in the polls and on the serious issues of the days.

Race card= EPIC FAIL

RepubChica on September 18, 2009 at 9:28 AM

Consider that the left has gone from wanting a color-blind society to seeing everything in terms of black and white.

More and more they are judging people based more on the color of their skin than the content of their character.

When did they throw MLK under the bus?

Chainsaw56 on September 18, 2009 at 9:36 AM

For Carter to be correct, we would have to assume that a large portion of the population was unaware in late 2008 and early 2009 that Barack Obama is a person of color, or that an increasing portion of the public is turning racist. Occam’s Razor suggests the correct answer is that Carter is an unhinged, race-baiting demagogue.

Not necessarily. Obama could have become more black.

My hypothesis is that he gained a bit of a tan over the summer which acutely raised his negatives among Caucasians. If he wishes to see his poll numbers go back up. He should lock himself in the White house and avoid the light of day at all costs.

jhffmn on September 18, 2009 at 9:36 AM

I think part of the problem with modern journalists is the fact that many of them are no longer content to simply report news, they want to make the news and be part of the storey. Its the whole celebrity journalist thing and it is more about fame, power, success and popularity with the right sort of people for them and unfortunately it leads to a heavily slanted media that is more interested in maintaining its position and influence in the circles of power than actually doing any serious and factual reporting of major news storeys.

Hellrider on September 18, 2009 at 9:40 AM

My hypothesis is that he gained a bit of a tan over the summer which acutely raised his negatives among Caucasians. If he wishes to see his poll numbers go back up. He should lock himself in the White house and avoid the light of day at all costs.

jhffmn on September 18, 2009 at 9:36 AM

LoL…that’s a good one.

RepubChica on September 18, 2009 at 9:50 AM

As we all know as a matter of fact, the “mainstream media” is heavily invested in Obama as most of them worked de facto for his election campaign, promoting Obama and systematically taking down his political foes, and now they have moved on to stealthily become Obama administration spokespersons.

Since Obama has begun to struggle and his approval ratings have begun to plummet, his media acolytes are swinging out at the easiest targets they can find and they are using the easiest and most acid cudgel to attack their favorite targets…the charge of racism.

While percentage wise there is a handful of Obama opponents that are racist, the vast majorities are not. This country has long entered a phase in which we have moved past racism as we have genuinely began to like and enjoy each other’s attributes.

It is the media that is playing with fire by whipping out the race card, as they are the ones stoking racial tensions, making accusatory charges against a very large segment of the population. The result of this is that more people are going to begin to dislike Obama and they are going to be tuning out the network news stations and the nations largest, most liberal newspapers in droves, because no one likes being called a racist. I can attest to this fact, having been smeared as a racist the moment I chose Hillary Clinton over Obama in the primaries.

OxyCon on September 18, 2009 at 10:14 AM


Thank you assembling this collage of racial paranoia in our State Run Media and presenting your findings in a calm coherent manner. As your article demonstrates, this has not been a feat that our SRM seems capable of accomplishing.

One thing that jumps out at me that you point out, is the SRM’s opening lines in their articles. They do not address the actual root if the stories being presented, but focus instead on the results. As you illustrated by selecting the following…

“In a victory for Republicans and the Obama administration’s conservative critics, Van Jones resigned as the White House’s environmental jobs “czar” on Saturday.”


“Conservatives Draw Blood From Acorn.”

Might we not conclude that the SRM leads their stories in the order of their own priorities? That the true underlying motive of their “reporting” is no longer really to inform, but to “draw blood” in an ideological battle towards an end goal, or “victory”.

In life in general, one tends to beleive of others what one know’s of oneself. In the case of spousal fidelity, when one sees one party obsessively consumed by the possibility
of their mate’s intransience, and constantly checking on their where abouts, you can be fairly certain of one thing. The one obsessed is more than likely the one having, or had an affair. Bank on it.

This can be broadened to the left overall. When the tea partiers burst on the seen it was deemed by the left as “astro-turf”. The reason the left had this ready label on hand to accuse the right of, is that “astro-turfing” is a term coined, and a strategy created by one own their own. David Axelod.

Or take their accusation that those that oppose their efforts are merely incapsulated in their own narrow lives and are just uninformed as to the greater realities. Can there be any more prominent example of this behavior than Charlie Gibson being caught on live radio being clueless as to the dominant story of the week-ACORN? Or Nancy Pelosi, who’s job as head of the majority party would presumably entail knowing the current operations of government, or vat least aware of the action of “the Greatest Deliberative Body in the World”? Just maybe, ya think?

On a small adaption the old proverb, look to the direction from the whence the rocks are launched, and ye shall find a glass house.

Archimedes on September 18, 2009 at 10:18 AM

I cannot begin to tell you how angry I am, not at the President, but at the opportunistic politicians and grievance-touts and ESPECIALLY the talking heads and jabberwocks in the print and broadcast news who see a racist in every demographically non-protected category of opponent of all of the boondoggles (TARP, Bailouts 1 and 2, Cash-for-perfectly-good-cars, carbon indulgences for the rich, and now Obamacare, also known as medical-bankruptcy-by-monopsony).

When I see Nancy getting weepy about the putative threat of violence, my heart hardens. When I hear President Carter say that an “overwhelming proportion” of opposition is racially motivated, I grind my teeth at the Hamas-hugger’s mug.

But when Shustersanchezcouricdowdmatthewsyadda-yadda-yadda (and Keith the Sports Boy) go drag the race carcass across the story, I am confirmed in my desire to see the “drive-by,” “legacy,” “old-time,” “state-controlled” media completely fail and go out of business.

You guys had it in your hands, Media, and you blew it. Your ascendant star peaked when Rather flippantly asked President Nixon, during the later months of Watergate, if he (Nixon) was running for reelection because his answers seemed cagy and careful. The decline took a while, but you succeeded in “bending the curve” with Rather’s deceitful story on President Bush’s TANG memo. Then it plummeted to the abysmal numbers you see today. (And while we’re on this topic, the media gleefully pound “predatory Wall Street executives” who make gazillions of dollars, as Katie, Diane, and ACORN-free Charles make their paltry $12 and $15 million a year.)

CO2MAKER on September 18, 2009 at 10:21 AM

funny how everyone who is playing the race card lately are whiter than white. i wonder what is in their past that makes them think everyone is racist? look its not race you liberal creeps its americans who are tired of being screwed over. it started during bushes second term and has been building ever since.

larry harris on September 18, 2009 at 10:22 AM

larry harris on September 18, 2009 at 10:22 AM

You must not have read the fine print last election. See in liberal post racial America, white liberals can now join African Americans as “racial experts”.

This gives them the power to bludgeon folks in flyover country with the charge of racism sans evidence.

jhffmn on September 18, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Usually when something doesn’t work it is abandoned, and a new tact is introduced. Why haven’t the CEOs of these networks course corrected?

This says something about the Fringe Media. These are not the best and brightest running these networks. We are at a low point in American Media History. If Broadcasting the News was the equivalent to a field, and it wasn’t bearing anything edible, you would turn the soil over and plant new seeds.

Old Media’s fields are fallow. No one wants to consume what they are growing.

There is an old saying you can catch more flys with honey than you can vinegar. Old Media is rotten to the core. CNN defends ACORN’s behavior. Charlie Gibson, he hasn’t even heard about the ACORN corruption. If this is the case why bother to broadcast news…just put on Corporate infomercials because that is all they amount to. There is absolutely NO objectivity left in the Media.

Dr Evil on September 18, 2009 at 10:33 AM

With as many TV appearances and constant speeches to hype socialized health care, I can without reservation say that Obama belongs to a group of people I really dislike…naggers

admit it…they annoy you too

CMonster on September 18, 2009 at 10:57 AM

The endless hullabaloo over white racism is a socially acceptable method of expressing a racial/class hatred of non-elite whites. You can experience and display the most venomous bigotry, while feeling all superior and self-righteous about it (and probably engorged and tingly, too). Nice work if you can get it.

Shrewsbury on September 18, 2009 at 11:02 AM

funny how everyone who is playing the race card lately are whiter than white.

larry harris on September 18, 2009 at 10:22 AM

The leaders of the congressional BLACK caucus are whiter than white?

MarkTheGreat on September 18, 2009 at 11:16 AM

So the public as a whole liked Obama when he was campaigning as a centerist tax cutting deficit hawk and now dislikes him while he is governing as a leftwing extremist.

The media loved Obama when he was campaigning as a centerist tax cutting deficit hawk and love him while he is governing as a leftwing extremist.

You can argue that there is a racially obsessed group out of these two, but it certainly isn’t the increasingly angry public.

18-1 on September 18, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Might we not conclude that the SRM leads their stories in the order of their own priorities?

Yes indeedy, both priorities and interests. They tend to frame the story in the way that illustrates what *they* take away from the story, without even trying, since it’s what they know and care about. In the case of ACORN, their hearts are already hardened to the real specter of fraud and abuse of minors, since they are actively rooting for ACORN to succeed, so when the scandal breaks, what *they* take away from it is, it’s merely a victory for someone else in the narrow political sense. And then they write the story accordingly.

To me that captures Karl’s idea as applied to this example, FWIW.

That the true underlying motive of their “reporting” is no longer really to inform, but to “draw blood” in an ideological battle towards an end goal, or “victory”.

Archimedes on September 18, 2009 at 10:18 AM

That too, but the definition of their “priorities” could also be restricted to merely what they perceive as newsworthy, and might exclude any [c]overt machinations on their part.

BTW Great comment Archimedes.

RD on September 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

There’s now a conversation that’s risen to the level of a former President about race.

I had assumed that conversation was a two way thing but what do I know.

Sharke on September 18, 2009 at 12:08 PM

When Did Opposition Become ‘Racism’?

The former president threw rhetorical kerosene on the political flames this week when he twice advanced the lowdown argument that political opposition to Barack Obama — in town halls, faltering presidential poll numbers, the colossal anti-Obama demonstration in Washington — boils down to “racism.”

The allegation is contemptible but, particularly in the wake of the Wilson story, has been pushed by journalists on the Left and Democratic U.S. Representatives mainly from the Black Congressional Caucus. Evidence of racism is so thin, though, the racism-ists must invent lurid details. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd writes that when she heard Wilson say “You lie” she felt as if, “fair or not,” she heard him say: You lie, boy! Georgia Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson draws a straight line from Wilson’s remark to “folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside intimidating people.” Yeah. En route to Bellevue.

It would almost be funny if it weren’t so grotesque. Of course, Jimmy Carter, who last appeared in this column after he laid red roses on the grave of Yasir Arafat before resuming his pursuit of face-time with Hamas terrorists, is no stranger to grotesque. Certainly after Osama bin Laden this week actually endorsed Carter’s anti-Israel book, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” the former president needed a good, unctuous wallow in sanctimony to deflect our attention from his new fan. But Carter went too far — even for him.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter told NBC. There exists the belief “among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country,” he continued, “that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

What’s “abominable” here is the spectacle of a former president attempting to asphyxiate democratic debate with the stranglehold charge of “racism.”

MB4 on September 19, 2009 at 2:39 AM