Friday, July 30, 2010

Media Chases Murdoch down a Foxhole

Tribune 30 July 2010

Ian Williams, Letter from America

In a Tribune book review last week, Joe Haines seemed to be praising Tony Blair for winning Rupert Murdoch’s backing. If there is anything worse than Fox News, the Murdoch press and the Neocon intellectuals, it is the reflexive kowtowing to them by so-called liberal and left of centre politicians in the English-speaking world. The shrill screams of outrage mean that anyone mentioning the pervasive racism in American society is likely to be accused of racism themselves. It is not a recent phenomenon, but Obama’s presidency and the tea party movement have raised it to new heights.

Two of the most memorably indicative moments of Bill Clinton’s invertebrate political career were when he flew back from campaigning to Arkansas to sign the execution warrant for Ricky Ray Rector, a black murderer who had already blown half his own brains out. Clinton wanted to head off any suggestion that he was soft on (black) crime. Later, after the Wall Street Journal and the Neocon fraternity had declared that black political scientist Lani Guinier was a “quota queen” for her work on more democratic voting systems, Clinton rescinded her nomination as Attorney for Civil Rights, and he and Hilary cut their lifelong friend dead. Clinton used his coded phrases for black Americans, “special interest groups,” to woo the white voters who, even if they disclaimed any racist ideology, still had a strong prejudice against any over-favourable treatment for blacks or minorities.

Last week it looked almost like Obama was having a Guinier moment when Shirley Sherrod, a civil rights veteran and official in the Agriculture Department was ordered to resign after conservative dirty tricks operative Andrew Breitbart posted a clip on You-tube from 20 year old speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People that was completely torn out of context, which implied that she had discriminated against a white farmer while she worked for the Department of Agriculture. The doctored clip was immediately given the full Fox News treatment and it was the mere threat of that which provoked her boss to demand her resignation. The purpose of the canard was to triangulate a mild rebuke from the NAACP for the Tea Party’s tolerance of some overt racism into a counter accusation of black racism, as allegedly practiced by the Obama administration. Indeed so successful was the grovel reflex that even the NAACP condemned her before checking their own records.

In fact, the full speech, if Fox had had fact checkers instead of a doublethink department, went on to show that she had saved the farmer’s property and livelihood, and he promptly surfaced in public to support her and testify to their life long friendship. Obama seemingly had nothing to do with the firing and promptly stepped in to offer her a job. The right hit back: it was racist of Sherrod to suggest that Breitbart was racist for libeling her and getting her sacked.

Fox has never let facts stand in the way of a good coded racist message. They had no excuse not to check Breitbart’s work as a recidivist distorter in the pay of conservative foundations. His “exposé” of Acorn, the community advice and registration group was edited, cut and pasted to make it look like the group was advising a pimp on how to open a brothel. Even Congressional Democrats voted to stop funding the organization, before examination of the full tapes showed how they had been doctored to distort the story. The Republicans resented how successful the group had been in registering minority voters – who if they voted, unsurprisingly tended to vote against the party that was working so hard to disenfranchise them.

Apart from demonstrating from demonstrating the spinelessness of many Democrats in the face of malicious fact-free conservatism, it really brought out how race is still a potent political issue in the USA, especially among core Republican voters who can barely reconcile themselves to having a Democrat in the White House, but are still in a state of denial about having a black guy in there.

The problem is not confined to the old Confederacy. In Boston Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested in his own home after he was uppity to a white police officer who had come to investigate an alleged break-in there while an all white jury in San Francisco found a policeman who shot in the back a handcuffed black lying on the floor guilty only of “involuntary manslaughter.”

When Obama raised the Gates issue the Fox hunt went on full “Tally-Ho” mode and forced him to apologise to the police officer for questioning his right to arrest a professor in his own home.

The inherent problem is how the shrill and utterly unprincipled conservative media chains have stampeded much of the rest of the media and the political establishment into accepting that it is thoughtcrime to suggest that there is racism, that there is avoidable poverty, that state intervention has a part to play in it, and that taxation has a role in a civilized society. There are indeed penalties: it is extremely unpleasant to be slimed by Rupert’s minions and camp-followers, but unless a critical mass of people do so, they will continue.

In this context, reading Joe Haines’ intemperate attack on Neil Kinnock in his Tribune review of Alasdair Campbell was indicative. He inveighs against Kinnock’s accurate listing the treachery of Blair’s New Labour and his condemnation of Blair’s pilgrimage to Murdoch to get News International support. Haines regards it as almost an example of sour grapes on Kinnock’s part that the Sun did not support him. For most of us, our estimation of Kinnock went up reading this section of the diaries. Sorry, Comrade Haines, if you lick Rupert’s fundament, you will get stickier stuff than grapes on your tongue. I have often been on Fox. I always take a long shower afterwards.

1 comment:

Rupa Shah said...

EXCELLENT! How do you do it?