ONTD Political

the right wing media is racist

6:48 am - 05/21/2012
In Conservative Media, A “Race War” Rages
They don't care if you call it racist.

It was near midnight on April 14 when the Chevy Cavalier carrying Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami rolled to a stop at a red light in Norfolk, Va. As the pair waited, one of a crowd of teenagers on the sidewalk threw a rock at the passenger seat window, prompting Forster to get out of the car and confront the aggressor.

That's when the beating began.

Forster later said the crowd swarmed, taking turns punching and kicking him in the ribs and face. When Rostami got out to help, the attackers moved on to her, pulling her hair and dealing one blow after another. Police eventually arrived, the crowd dispersed, and the victims were left shaken and bruised, but not gravely injured. Local authorities wrote it off as an all-too-routine assault in a city whose violent crime rate is well above the state average. Even the local newspaper where the victims worked, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, skipped the story, which the editor deemed un-newsworthy. That was before Bill O'Reilly found out about it.

The Fox News host turned the incident into national news by adding one detail: The attackers were black, and the victims were white.

If you've spent much time consuming conservative media lately, you've probably learned about a slow-burning "race war" going on in America today. Sewing together disparate data points and compelling anecdotes like the attack in Norfolk, conservative bloggers and opinion-makers are driving the narrative with increasing frequency. Their message: Black-on-white violence is spiking — and the mainstream media is trying to cover it up.

This notion isn't necessarily new to the right, which has long complained about stifling political correctness in the media and about "reverse racism." But the race war narrative has gained renewed traction during the Obama years, as various factors — from liberals' efforts to paint the Tea Party as racist, to the widely-covered Trayvon Martin shooting — have left conservatives feeling unfairly maligned, and combative.

"I wouldn't call it political correctness, I would call it lying," said Tucker Carlson, editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller, describing what he considers to be the media's racial double-standard. "To the press, the only hate crimes are straight white men somehow committing acts of violence against people who are not straight white men. When in fact, the real world is a lot more complicated than that."

Conservatives have been fighting allegations of racism for years, regularly crying foul when liberals demonize them for opposing policies like affirmative action. But the catalyst for the latest pushback on the right was Democrats' attempts to brand the Tea Party "racist," said Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative scholar of race and George W. Bush appointee U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

"I think the 'R-word' is the worst, most damning word in our vocabulary now," she said. "So of course Morgan Freeman comes out and calls the whole Tea Party racist, and the media treats it like it's OK. This had been a source of annoyance for some time"
— but the absurdity of the racist-Tea-Party narrative was enough to spark vocal dissent, she said.

"I think it's only recently that there have been outspoken voices, particularly on blogs, saying, 'Shut up Jesse Jackson, we're tired of you,'" she said. "There's been increasing impatience with the media's indulgence of people who have no moral legitimacy."

The conservative media's in-your-face reporting of black-on-white crime is a sort of demonstration project — a rebellious response to decades of fielding allegations of racism from the cultural elites who run the mainstream press. And to many on the right, the Norfolk story is emblematic of the bias Carlson described.

Outraged that the national media didn't give this story the same extensive coverage as the Martin shooting, O'Reilly launched into a campaign that has stretched over several nights of Fox's top-rated show. Along the way, his team has uncovered an early police report that described the assault as a hate crime (authorities said it was a clerical error), and found neighborhood kids who speculated on camera that the assailants were exacting racial revenge for the death of Trayvon. O'Reilly has also publicly shamed the local newspaper for ignoring the story, and even called on Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene in the investigation.

"This is a major story," O'Reilly said on his show one night earlier this month. "We cannot have Americans of any color being set upon by violent mobs. That cannot stand in this country. The Factor will continue to demand justice in Virginia."

But while Norfolk may be the most high-profile chapter yet in the "race war," it's hardly the only one conservatives have highlighted. Over the past four years, the Drudge Report has run dozens of headlines chronicling acts of violence against white victims — often by black youths.

In one particularly memorable Drudge front page last year, the site culled the newswires for articles about "urban" crime that took place over Memorial Day weekend, and then grouped them together. Among the headlines: "Miami 'war zone' during urban weekend;" "Rib fest at Rochester beach turns rowdy;" and "Unruly urban crowd shuts down Nashville water park."

And on September 15, 2009, Drudge led with the headline, "WHITE STUDENT BEATEN ON BUS; CROWD CHEERS." The story — which showed video of a black teenager in Illinois beating up a white classmate — went viral in the right-wing blogosphere, prompting Rush Limbaugh to weigh in.

"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering," Limbaugh declared.

It is an article of faith among many conservatives that Obama has exacerbated nationwide racial tensions. Ward Connerly, a veteran California anti-affirmative action activist and leading black conservative, accused the president of trying to take political advantage of "racial disputes," rather than diffuse them.

"Obama has been more racial than any white president has ever been in my lifetime," said Connerly, adding, "Candidly, I think that race relations are probably worse now among the average person on the street than they were the day President Obama was elected."

Last week, Thomas Sowell, a prominent black intellectual on the right, crystalized the conservative race war theory with a viral column describing an active, nationwide cover-up of black-on-white crime:

What the authorities and the media seem determined to suppress is that the hoodlum elements in many ghettoes launch coordinated attacks on whites in public places. If there is anything worse than a one-sided race war, it is a two-sided race war, especially when on of the races outnumbers the other several times over.

Though his column was aggregated as an expose of the "spike in black-on-white violence," Sowell himself did not cite any statistics, relying instead on anecdotal evidence.

Indeed, the irony of the race war narrative's latest flare-up is that it comes at a time when national crime rates have reached historic lows — including reported hate crimes against whites. According to a report released by the FBI, there were 575 anti-white bias crimes reported in 2010 — up slightly from the 545 reported in 2009, but distinctly lower than the 716 reported in 2008. Overall, the past decade has seen a downward trend in anti-white bias crime. What's more, hate crimes against blacks have continued to outstrip those against whites by about four-to-one: In 2010 alone, there were 2,201 reported. Violent crimes across the spectrum reached a four-decade low in 2010.

But to conservatives, the argument is less about a spike in the actual statistics — or in the eternal, low-profile neighborhood tensions that have been part of the American story since Irish and Italian kids were clashing in the New York City slums of Five Points — than it is about changing the politics of race and the right.

Dan Riehl, a conservative blogger who runs Riehl World View and contributes to Breitbart News, said that black-on-white violence isn't as predominant as other criminal-victim dynamics, but he still argued the news media have a special incentive to over-report stories of white criminals.

"There are special interest groups on the left that exploit reports of white-on-black crime for political gain," Riehl said. "The media keeps doing these stories because because people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton drum up more talk around them."

In response to this perceived bias, some in the conservative media have opted to tackle racial taboos head on, gleefully upending traditional journalistic practices and taunting the PC police. Nowhere was this defiant attitude more apparent than at The Daily Caller earlier this year as the drama of the Trayvon case unfolded.

"I was struck by the immediate, uncloaked assumption by the media that Trayvon Martin was innocent," said Carlson. "As a journalist, I would never assume that — black, white, with Skittles, without Skittles. The coverage of that was so dishonest it was unbelievable."

Carlson pushed back aggressively in his own newsroom: "My instructions were really clear: find out all the information you can and let's print it."

As a result, the Caller was the first outlet to find and publish the contents of a Twitter feed belonging to Martin. Many of the Tweets were crass and sexual, studded with teenage bravado, demeaning language about women, and drug references. Carlson seemed to take delight in fighting the accepted mainstream media narrative that Martin was nothing but an angelic victim.

"Of course we got attacked and people said we were racist, but I didn't care," Carlson said.

As the Trayvon case has died down, the Caller has continued to follow the race wars with combative coverage, recently publishing an interview with the sister of an assault victim in Mobile, Ala. who claimed a black "mob" attacked him after he tried to stop a robbery.

Stories like these have plenty of detractors, who say they appeal to the worst instincts of their white audience. Curtis Lawrence, diversity chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists, said best practices generally dictate that news outlets should only identify a criminal suspect's race when there's evidence suggesting it was a factor in the crime — otherwise, he said, they run the risk of recklessly affirming negative racial stereotypes.

And Cheryl Contee, founder of the left-leaning black blog Jack and Jill Politics, blasted this type of coverage as fear-mongering propaganda.

"Pushing the notion of a 'race war' or raising the specter of black on white crime serves to frighten those who might be considering voting for Obama in November," she said, adding, "It's perhaps the most naked attempt to date to use fear of The Other to bring back those who may be increasingly alienated from conservative policies."

But for conservatives who have long believed themselves unfairly criticized for talking about race, the current moment is something close to vindication.

"I think there has been a long simmering mild anger and frustration about this double standard, this way that conservatives are treated," said Connerly. "And we're now seeing that come out."

The new online right, meanwhile, seems to be well past the fear of being called racist, and they say the focus on black-on-white crime isn’t going to go away.

"If a group of white youths beat up a black kid, the press would certainly name the race of the victim and the race of the alleged perpetrators," said the Caller’s Carlson. "It's as simple as that."

qable 21st-May-2012 02:31 pm (UTC)
"I think the 'R-word' is the worst, most damning word in our vocabulary now," she said. "So of course Morgan Freeman comes out and calls the whole Tea Party racist, and the media treats it like it's OK. This had been a source of annoyance for some time"

Because being called racist is worse than being racist.
back_track 21st-May-2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
this woman was once on the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights...that's just stomach-turning.
qable 21st-May-2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
It doesn't paint her time on the Commission in a pleasant light. How do people get that job?
qable 21st-May-2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
That certainly is a thing. I'm glad I missed it when it happened.
spiffynamehere 21st-May-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)

crossfire 21st-May-2012 08:46 pm (UTC)
That post is such a hot mess it crashes Firefox when I expand all.
beuk 21st-May-2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
that prompted me to open that post again. I had no idea there are more than 800 comments now. When I read the comments there were 260.
schmutzigs 21st-May-2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
i can't believe this incident didn't get coverage until the republicans picked it up. two people were severely beaten by a crowd, without giving any reason for it. why isn't that news-worthy? according to wikipedia norfolk had a population of 242,803 in 2010, isn't any beating than news-worthy?

so yes, my question is not related to race. it doesn't matter which 'race' attacked the other, it's about the fact that two people were attacked without giving any reason for it and it not being picked up by the local news.
schmanda 21st-May-2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
two people were severely beaten by a crowd, without giving any reason for it. why isn't that news-worthy?
The editor of the paper claimed this in a memo to employees:
Here is what happened with Dave and Marjon. They were victims of what police described as a simple assault and, initially, they did not want to be named in a story. If these were the circumstances with any other people in the community, we would not have done a story.

I'm not sure how much it washes, since news outlets routinely report about crimes without naming the victims. *shrug*

OTOH, there's another issue that's not in the OP's piece: "the responding officer coded the incident as a simple assault, despite their assertions that at least 30 people had participated in the attack." A simple assault, as the columnist puts it, is unlikely to merit a story. Coupled with the two victims' reluctance to be named, at least in the outset, makes it somewhat more understandable. (The editor's memo is still laden with CYA, though.)

To me, the more pressing story is not "ZOMG librul media"-breathlessness, but rather how the Norfolk police justify how 30 people attacking two constitutes "simple assault." (After my own dealing with the NPD years ago, I can't say I'm necessarily surprised that they would diminish this.)
schmutzigs 21st-May-2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
indeed, a 30 people attack isn't simple assault, that's some heavy shit super-aggressive group violence. wtf.

but for me, it is more about the idea of this being unmentioned. i can't imagine that being the case in my western-europe country, even if the victims wouldn't want to be named, 5 sentences are enough to explain what happened (without naming race, simply because that isn't relevant).
schmanda 21st-May-2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
Something to consider: that paper doesn't cover just news Norfolk. It covers much of southeast Virginia and a part of northeastern North Carolina as well. With limited column inches available to dedicate to news, much less local news, an act that was, officially, a simple assault would probably not warrant a story -- I don't think that's total b.s.

If it got mentioned at all, it would be where often times a newspaper will dedicate space to just a straight listing of the local police blotter, but remember they would have to cover not just Norfolk, but also four other immediately adjacent cities (total population of well over a million), plus the adjacent counties.
romp 21st-May-2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
My first question was whether or not you live in North America. Mobs are scary but not so rare that they make non-local news if no one is permanently injured. You can research it but I can think of cases near me that few people outside the province or Canada have heard about.
ladypolitik 21st-May-2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
It is an article of faith among many conservatives that Obama has exacerbated nationwide racial tensions.

As always, LOL @ white conservative obtuseness and irony.

"Yeah, fuck that guy for making racist people think and feel racist thoughts by virtue of the fact that he shows up to work black!"

Edited at 2012-05-21 03:12 pm (UTC)
ceruleanst 21st-May-2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
"Obama has been more racial than any white president has ever been in my lifetime," said Connerly

This strange word usage is something to keep an eye out for if it pops up again. What does it mean to be "racial"? Apparently it sits in a fuzzy area between simply having a race of note (cf. "ethnic") and acting on racist motivations, and tries to conflate them.

Or it may just be that since conservatives want to see the very word "racist" as a slur, it follows that they need a p.c. term for it. "I'm not saying he's an R-word because it's not cool to call people that, but I think he is being kind of racial."
happycycling 21st-May-2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
goddammit, why did i read the comments?
happycycling 21st-May-2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
normally i'm good at keeping myself from doing so, but for some reason i assumed commenters on Buzzfeed would be less shitty than, say, CNN. and then i see right-wing conspiracy theorists talking about how Democrats are trying to ruin the country by dividing people into racial groups. buh.
kaowolfie 22nd-May-2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Hon. :( Want an e-hug? Won't make it go away, but...
surreal_44 21st-May-2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
Why do white people get upset at being called racist?

Because racism means something totally different to us? Because to you, racism is a white person wearing a headdress, or co-opting ethnicity, but for us, we don't understand how that could ever be racist.

To white people, racism is all about intent. Racism goes hand in hand with evil; it's the KKK, it's Hitler, it's hurting people because you want to hurt them, and using your power to purposefully inflict pain.

Racism IS a dirty word to most white people, because of the type of people it is connected to the most in our history classes. Being called a racist IS one of the worst things to call a white person.

I know it's not an excuse, and I know it sounds like white privilege speaking, so anything I say doesn't actually matter. I'm just trying to explain how it feels. I am not comparing it to the hurt that is unleashed when an actual racial slur is used -- the two are not the same thing, and I am fully aware of that. However, I do think it's important for everyone to understand why white people hate being called racist.

So as soon as the word racist is used, the conversation is over, particularly if the offender didn't realize they were being offensive, because now they're trying to defend themselves against being called evil and hateful.

martyfan 21st-May-2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
People of color know perfectly well what we white people think. And it sounds like white privilege speaking because it IS white privilege speaking.
iolarah 21st-May-2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
Is it ever. I think a lot of the underlying feelings about being called racist come down to the fact that, in order for there to be equality, us whites have to give up some of the privilege we've become accustomed to, so much so that we think we're entitled to it. And realizing we have to give something up is an uncomfortable feeling. But too fucking bad--we've gotten ahead on the backs of others, and we need to own that.
surreal_44 21st-May-2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Is there a way to...I don't know. Actually give up white privilege? How do we do that?

I admit; white privilege is a fairly new concept to me. I don't know much about it. I'm still learning, so I expect that I will probably still say stupid things. :/
schmanda 21st-May-2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
If you haven't read it yet, I found this essay a good place to start.
romp 21st-May-2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
how to start

If you're like me, you'll need to read this and hear this repeatedly for years to internalize it. Because we're immersed in a culture that IS racist so we're surrounded by racist images and ideas all the time. Once we understand that, we're not surprised when racist ideas come out of people who seem otherwise sensible.

I suspect the unlearning in lifelong so I don't think many white people get to stop paying attention to this. After almost 20 years of watching this, I know ONE white person whose knee-jerk reaction/lizard brain has never defaulted to racist.
iolarah 21st-May-2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
The thing is, we need to be challenged. It's the behaviour that's hateful, and we need to face that and deal with it. Otherwise these issues will never go away. Sure, being called racist hurts, but I'd rather be called out on my bullshit than go through my life unwittingly, ignorantly hurting people because of privilege I don't actually deserve. I can change my behaviour; POC can't change their skin colour. We owe it to one another to unlearn the behaviours that hurt others.
martyfan 21st-May-2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
She seems pretty clueless in general. She thinks being ignorant means you're stupid, an apologist is someone who genuinely apologizes, and that slurs are okay so long as you use them the right way (which had nothing to do with reclaiming them).
surreal_44 21st-May-2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, sorry. :-) I'm really new to the community so I'm trying very, very hard to not be disrespectful.

Did I do...somewhat ok? What could I do better?
checkerdandy 21st-May-2012 05:53 pm (UTC)
This sounds like a load of bullshit to me. And I'm a white person.

I think we need to get over our bawwwwwwwwwwww reaction. Only then can we start the work on fighting racism.

Elon James White had a good segment on this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAe2ARfwA94
surreal_44 21st-May-2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Think what you like. -shrug- At least I'm being honest. And yes, we need to get over it, but that doesn't change the fact of what actually happens when people say we're racist.

checkerdandy 21st-May-2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
I've never qq'd over being called racist, but that's because I tend to avoid saying racist shit. Funny how that works.
beuk 21st-May-2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
But the point is that "what actually happens" when people say we're racist can change, from a privileged defensive response to a more humble and reasonable and thoughtful reaction.
schmanda 21st-May-2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
Because to you, racism is a white person wearing a headdress, or co-opting ethnicity, but for us, we don't understand how that could ever be racist.

It's never to late for us to strive to understand it, then.
spiffynamehere 21st-May-2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
Well, it is white privilege speaking. Sometimes you just have to shove down your first instinct, take a break, and go "Okay, yeah, I fucked up".

I don't think anyone needs to ~*~understand~*~ why white people hate being called racist. I think that white people need to understand why being racist is wrong, even if it's unintentional.
iolarah 22nd-May-2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
This. We're the ones with the privilege, so it's up to us to take on the responsibility of understanding why our behaviour--intentional or not--sucks, and how to change it. POC should not be required to carry that burden for us.
ceruleanst 21st-May-2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
"I was struck by the immediate, uncloaked assumption by the media that Trayvon Martin was innocent," said Carlson. "As a journalist, I would never assume that — black, white, with Skittles, without Skittles."

So you first thought of any murder victim is to suspect him of being guilty of...something? Bullshit.

I feel like these people think that if they make the case hard enough, the world will conclude that Trayvon Martin is alive and needs to be locked up for murder.
chickosaurusrex 21st-May-2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
IKR? It's like he's thinking, "A black kid died? Well he's got to be guilty of something!" :/

Edited to fix typo!

Edited at 2012-05-21 04:36 pm (UTC)
romp 21st-May-2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
lizzy_someone 21st-May-2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Right? WTF? A man fatally shot an unarmed kid for no fucking reason and people dare to suggest the blame lies with the murderer rather than the murdered? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO.
tabaqui 21st-May-2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
The only reason that there is so much 'attention to race' in the media lately is because in 2008, a black man became President and the right-wing RACIST fuckheads still can't wrap their heads around it. And basically unleashed a deluge of apparently long-held and long-hidden hate.

Shocking, i know. But when you send out memos with the White House lawn covered in watermelons and call the First Lady a 'gorilla'...well....

If the shoe fucking fits, you morons....
romp 21st-May-2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
I was shocked when Obama won and my overwhelming thought was how the minds of thousands of people had to be BLOWN. The bile has been flowing steadily and it's not like the source has changed so...
sobota 22nd-May-2012 10:08 am (UTC)
i spent all of 2008 believing he couldn't win, and had my mum calling me CRYING that night, saying that she couldn't believe it, and thought that it would never happen in her lifetime.

i'm actually scared he won't be re-elected, which is probably my pessimism speaking.
iolarah 21st-May-2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it's occurred to them that maybe if there's an increase of black-on-white violence, it's because black people are fucking fed up, and maybe seeing a black man as President has given them the strength to say, "Hey, we deserve so much more than we're being given here." When there's a perceived lack of racial tension, I'd wager that's because of subjugation. We're not even close to equality.
lizzy_someone 21st-May-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
To the press, the only hate crimes are straight white men somehow committing acts of violence against people who are not straight white men.

Yeah, we're so unfair to the poor little straight white men who ~somehow~ commit acts of racist/sexist/homophobic violence. Somehow, in some vague, airy-fairy, unspecified, hypothetical way, because it's not like we have any concrete real-life examples of such violence! Nope! We have to just exercise our imaginations in order to think about such far-fetched fantasies! Whoever heard of stuff like "Emmett Till," or "James Byrd, Jr.," or "Matthew Shepard," much less the graphic, wrenching, horrific details of their brutal murders? Not Tucker Carlson! He can't even imagine what these so-called "hate crimes" might be, he can only speculate vaguely that straight white men might "somehow" commit violence.
brookiki 22nd-May-2012 03:57 am (UTC)
Ugh... I remember in my Family Law class, sodomy laws were being discussed and the professor was apparently trying to explain that the laws were on the books but no one actually did anything about them. He said something to the effect of "And can anyone really name someone who was punished for sodomy?" I raised my hand and said "Oscar Wilde" and he sort of brushed it off with "Well, of course, there are exceptions, but no one was really punished for sodomy."

When it happened, I was mad at myself for being the stupid person that answered a rhetorical question. Looking back on it now, though, I'm mad at him for asking that question and making that point.

Edited at 2012-05-22 03:57 am (UTC)
lizzy_someone 23rd-May-2012 03:22 am (UTC)
LOLWHUT, a counterexample is a counterexample! Your professor has a very strange conception of what "this never happened" means.
amyura 21st-May-2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Outraged that the national media didn't give this story the same extensive coverage as the Martin shooting

Maybe because, and I'm just guessing here.....nobody died?
lee_rowan 22nd-May-2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
the right wing media is racist

In other news, water is wet.
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