'The wrong debate': Robert Reich takes aim at mainstream media's affirmative action panic

'The wrong debate': Robert Reich takes aim at mainstream media's affirmative action panic
Image via Kore Chan/Senior Staff for The Daily Californian.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently expressed concern about a presumed plan of "affirmative action" panic being perpetuated by mainstream media.

In a new op-ed published by The Guardian, Reich revealed he was initially open to accepting an invitation to appear on The Dr. Phil Show. While he was initially open to appearing on the show, he became apprehensive after reading some of the questions that would be asked during the interview.

According to Reich, the rest of the email read, "For this conversation, we will be asking questions like: do college admissions enroll minorities over prospective Caucasian students? Are Caucasian teachers and professors being laid off to 'make up for past discriminations' against minority educators, as seen in Minneapolis?"

READ MORE: 'You can kiss our democracy goodbye' if Republicans win: Robert Reich

Reich expressed concern about the content and insisted "it would be a show about favoritism to Black people over white people."

He went on to discuss his issue with mainstream media and the impact producers have on what is aired to the masses. "They decide two hugely important things: (1) the topics to be discussed, and (2) how those topics are framed," Reich explained.

"These two decisions determine what issues the public focuses on (out of an almost infinite number bubbling up each day) and what’s debatable about them (out of an almost infinite number of possibilities)."

He also added, "These two determinations in turn fuel public emotions – ranging from anger, indignation and outrage, to hope, pride and confidence. They affect our daily conversations. They shape our politics. They divide or connect Americans. They help set the national agenda."

READ MORE: Robert Reich: There are only 5 ways to become a billionaire — and none of them involve being successful in free market capitalism

Reich also noted how far-right news outlets have fueled panic over this. "MAGA outlets, blogs, and social media sites have gone nuts over this. Racial preferences for Black people have become a hot-button issue, especially among struggling working-class whites," he wrote.

"Viewed this way, this issue lends itself to the right-wing argument that 'coastal elites' have rigged the economic game against white working people in favor of “less deserving” people of color," Reich wrote. "Naturally, this infuriates a lot of working-class whites. Presumably, this is the debate Dr. Phil’s producer has in mind. But it’s the wrong issue and the wrong debate."

He went on to discuss the aftermath and how the onus falls into the hands of those who have no regard for the impact of their actions.

Reich concluded, "My biggest regret is that the national conversation is in the hands of producers chasing ratings and advertising dollars, with no regard for how they’re distorting the public’s understanding of what’s important or the core choices lying ahead."

READ MORE: Robert Reich warns of Supreme Court case that could give GOP-led states 'total power over our democracy'

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