Fox News Attacks 'Lesbian Air America Host'

Even by the low standards of the Republican News Network, this morning's attack on Rachel Maddow, on the Fox News network, as a "lesbian Air America host" was a despicable new low. Those words, an open appeal to bigotry and hate, said by an alleged media analyst named Tim Graham, were met with laughter and chortles by the Fox News team on air. This is sick and despicable stuff, even for Fox News.

Here is a message to Barack Obama: You need to spend more time fighting back against the lies and smears of a Swift Boat campaign more ugly than the campaign against John Kerry, and less time having sweet-talk meetings with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes followed by professorial discourse with Bill O'Reilly. This is war, Barack, and you had better fight back.

The sickness and dementia of a purported news network airing with smug laughs and happy chortles a naked appeal to hatred and bigotry in this attack on "a lesbian Air America host" is a low that even a Republican cable organization like Fox should never stoop to.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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