For Fox, Beck, Limbaugh -- Race Baiting Has Become Standard Fare, with More to Come This Summer
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If you thought last summer’s Obama Beer Summit was troubling in terms of how far-right media partisans wallowed in the topic of race, early indications are this simmering season is going to be much worse as Fox News and its brigade of haters fan the flame of division and distrust.
There’s no question that race peddlers went nuts last summer over the controversy involving Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge, MA police Sgt. James Crowley, as well as Obama’s later involvement in the story. But this time around, ‘wingers have removed all mechanical governors and are talking about race in America the way that perhaps they’ve always wanted to talk about it during the Obama era; in unapologetically ugly, resentful and divisive tones.
How else do you describe the emerging right-wing meme, pushed by Rush Limbaugh, that Obama is really some sort of Black Manchurian Candidate, fixated on exacting revenge from prejudice white America?
Aided by a storyline that involves a tiny hate group called the New Black Panther Party (so much more menacing that an aging Harvard prof!), the GOP Noise Machine has gone loco over a comically porous story of voter intimidation; a tale that even one Republican official with intimate knowledge has dismissed as “small potatoes” and not worth any attention.
Conservative commentators, however, have been quick to run with the phony story, calling it evidence of racial bias in the Obama administration and fitting it into a series of grand, race-based conspiracies. Rush Limbaugh's, for instance, claimed the fact that the Department of Justice did not seek criminal charges against the New Black Panther Party was "the natural course of events" with "a black attorney general" and "a black president."
RedState stressed how it was an “ African-American” AG who supposedly dropped the charges. (Emphasis in original.) Blogger Ed Morrissey suggested the DOJ’s decision amounted to a "compensation for historical injustices,” and that “after more than a century of black voters being intimidated at the polls, it just wouldn't seem fair to prosecute a black group for voter intimidation."
Morrissey’s evidence? He didn’t have any.
Of course, Limbaugh, RedState, and Morrissey all ignored the facts of New Black Panther Party case in order to clear the path for dishonest race-baiting. The right-wing has to ignore those facts, otherwise there’s no there there. (i.e. The Bush DOJ treated a case of voter intimidation involving right-wing Minutemen the exact same way the Obama DOJ handled the New Black Panther case.)
But apparently with the New Black Panther story in the media bloodstream, far-right players suddenly feel free to let the race-baiting fly:
- Quinn: Tanning tax is a "race-based tax" from "the most racist administration ... since Woodrow Wilson"
Honestly, we haven’t seen this kind of high-profile, race-based fearmongering since last July, when Glenn Beck spent the final full week of that month unleashing a torrent of ugly and hateful allegations about Obama, driven at the time by the Gates/Crowley controversy:
- “[Obama’s] goal is creating a new America. A new model; a new modal that will settle old racial scores through new social justice.”
But Beck soon retreated, at least temporarily, from that nasty line of attack. Why?
Because on the morning of July 28, he appeared on Fox & Friends and announced that the President of the United States, who was raised by his white mother, had “exposed himself as a guy” with a “deep seated hatred for white people,” and that Obama was in fact a “racist.” The repercussions to the astonishingly hateful broadside were swift. Not from Fox News of course, which holds Beck to no discernable standard. Instead, the repercussions came from the marketplace and within months Beck had lost approximately 80 advertisers and his TV show was virtually void of blue chip sponsors who were willing to appear on his show.