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Fox News' False Comparisons Of Harry Reid And Trent Lott Shows More Racial Insensitivity

Reported by Ellen - January 11, 2010 -

Leave it to Fox News to try to make partisan political hay out of Senator Harry Reid's racial comments about then-candidate Barack Obama, describing him as “light-skinned” with “no Negro dialect." With their own dubious record on race, Fox may have known it could not credibly stand up and complain about Reid's racial insensitivity. Instead, Fox just happened to go along with the conservative meme comparing Democrats' defending Reid with their attack on Trent Lott and crying hypocrisy. As many have noted, there is no comparison. Reid's comments were insensitive to be sure but that's a far cry from Lott's endorsement of a segregationist agenda. What Fox does not seem to have noticed is that their very meme shows an even deeper racial insensitivity on their part.

If Fox News were really concerned about racial insensitivity, they would have focused more intensely on the substance and implication of Reid's remarks (as Brit Hume did to some extent tonight on Special Report), namely the disturbing assumptions that Obama's way of speaking was somehow not the norm for African Americans and, more broadly, that a black candidate needs to be "white" enough to get elected. But instead of taking stock of what that comment might indicate about the state of race relations in this country, Fox News has spent more time trotting out the pillorying of Trent Lott, who gave a vote of approval to a segregationist's policies.

By yelling about hypocrisy, Fox gives an implicit nod to Lott, suggesting that Democrats were as wrong to censure Lott then as they are in defending Reid now. Otherwise, why bring it up? But don't take my word for it. Fox News personalities have repeatedly spoken sympathetically about Lott. Their charade of racial sensitivity as an excuse to demand the resignation of Harry Reid is pretty transparent.