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FOX News' Black History Month "Celebration" Is An Insult To African Americans

Reported by Ellen - February 20, 2005 -

I'm not an African American so I hope I'm not offending anyone when I say that I found FOXNews.com's Black History Month Celebration more of an insult than a tribute to that large segment of the American population.

I was a bit surprised to discover the "celebration" to begin with, considering how lily white FNC is. I can think of only two African American reporters in the entire line-up and none who are program hosts. Yet, it's amazing how many blondes FOX News hires. So when I saw the little box (no longer there) on the top of the website advertising Black History Month, I knew I had to take a peek.

The "celebration" itself takes place in a distant corner of the website. There is usually no link on the home page. To get there, you have to find the Fox Fan link at the top of the page, click on Newsletters (not exactly an intuitive link, IMHO), then to FNC Update (another counter-intuitive link), then scroll down to the bottom of the page for the link that says "FNC's Celebration of Black History Month Continues." It seems more like a virtual ghetto to me than a party-room.

The first black history link is actually a promo for a FOX-related product. It's a chance to win Dear Senator, A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond. There's a photo of the book's cover next to the link for the contest. I wonder if the reason for this promo is because the honchos at FOX News think it's a book that blacks really want to read or if it's because the publisher just happens to be a division of HarperCollins, owned by News Corp., the same company that owns FOX News. Although this book is on the NY Times bestsellers list, it is not a bestseller in the black community according to Essence Magazine's current African American bestsellers list.

Underneath the "Dear Senator" promo, there is a smaller blurb that reads, "Check out FNC's Black History Month section for exclusive interviews and videos updated throughout February." Clicking through led me to a page filled with self-serving FOX propaganda disguised as homage to African Americans. Scrolling past another ad for "Dear Senator" at the top of that page, past a link for a video clip of President Bush "honor(ing) great African-Americans and talk(ing) about the continuing struggle for equality and justice," there's a link to a video clip of Bill O'Reilly that reads, "Racial Injustice ? Are Black Crime Victims Ignored? In Atlanta, an African-American baby was brutally murdered by its mother. Why did the state let the accused go scot-free? Bill investigates!" I could hardly wait to find out.

Answer: Black criminals get special treatment (i.e. not enough punishment) because black victims are not given the same importance as white victims. Leave it to FOX to have the audacity to claim that stiffer penalties are part of civil rights!

Along with O'Reilly, the video featured conservative Michael King, from Project 21 (www.project21.org). Some of Project 21's press releases are titled, "Black Conservatives Decry Advance Claims of Voter Suppression; Conspiratorial Claims are Not Constructive to Full Voter Participation, Group Says" and "Has the NAACP Taken Sides in the Presidential Campaign?" Nevertheless, King was identified at least twice in the segment as "Civil Rights Activist."

But wait, there's more. Near the bottom of the page is a "fair and balanced forum" on "Black issues today." The first issue is about affirmative action. Of course, the anti-affirmative action view is first. But at least there's an opposing opinion. That is not a given in the next part called "The Black Vote in '08." There are two black conservative women - Star Parker, who tells us that left-leaning black leaders are a hindrance, not a help, to the black community; and Linda Softli, founder and president of the Black Republican Women International. Clicking once more for "more black history month Q&A's," I found a page called "Black Issues Today ? A Fair & Balanced Forum." If it weren't such an outrage, it would be funny - one professor who seems to disagree with Bush but is never identified as either liberal or Democrat, one black minister whose Q&A begins with the statement, "A significant number of blacks are reconsidering their Democratic affiliation, as was demonstrated with the voting patterns of this last election." and two different faces, each identified as the chairperson of Pennsylvania Republican State Committee.

Comment: The preponderance of Republican and conservative African Americans featured is not representative of the true community that FOX News purports to be celebrating. According to The Hill newspaper, only 11% of blacks voted for George W. Bush in 2004. CBS reported last year that "Even in a good year... a Republican is lucky to get 15 percent to 20 percent of the black vote." The statement, above, about blacks reconsidering their Democratic affiliation does not seem to apply to voting for Bush. At best, FOX's assertion about that is misleading.

Once again FOX has distorted reality in order to suit its agenda. That it would distort the reality of an ethnic group it is pretending to honor is nothing short of an outrage.

Email FOX: [email protected]

2/23/05 Update: The little box with the link to the Black History Month celebration has returned to the FOXNews.com home page. I wonder if this post had anything to do with that. The "Dear Senator" ad seems to have disappeared.

2/17/05 Update: There's a new book promo on the Black History Month page: The Known World, by Edward P. Jones, another HarperCollins book. This one's a novel about black slave-owners in Virginia.