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Fox Reaction To Gates Controversy Suggests They're Looking For Excuses To Paint Obama As A Racist

Reported by Ellen - July 28, 2009 -

Judging from the way Fox News personnel have leapt at the Gates controversy as a chance to paint Barack Obama as a black racist, and considering their previous frothing at the mouth over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and ACORN - and let’s not forget their recent foray into legitimizing birther conspiracies - one can only conclude that they’re lying in wait for the slightest excuse to stoke up racial fears and antagonisms against Obama, all the while accusing him and anyone they might associate with him of being the one(s) playing the race card. Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity have especially labored to paint the Gates incident as part of some sort of racist pattern by Obama, an effort built on suggestion, innuendo and no hard evidence whatsoever. They have also gone out of their way to smear Gates as a black militant to fit him into their racial agenda. Not surprisingly, Fox Nation joined their attacks. With video.

According to Ann Coulter on Geraldo last weekend, the press conference question from Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet about the arrest of African American Harvard Law professor Henry Gates after he broke into his own home was planted by Obama in order to shore up his African American bona fides to the black community. When challenged by host Geraldo Rivera, Coulter insisted she had proof but was never asked to provide it.

On July 23, Media Matters caught Fox fave David Horowitz and host Beck accusing Gates of playing the race card. Horowitz went on to make the gratuitous racial slur, “What happens to a black man in America? Well, you slit your wife’s throat from ear to ear and you get acquitted by a jury when the whole nation knows you’re guilty.”

That was too much even for Beck. After rebuttal from his African American cameraman and soundman, Beck “softened” the analysis to conclude that Gates is “A little bit of an elitist… And he played the race card.”

Several days later, however, Beck took it a step further. On today’s Fox & Friends, Beck said, “This president has exposed himself as a guy – over and over and over again - who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture, I don’t know what it is. But you can’t sit in a pew with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years and not hear some of that stuff and not have it wash over. What kind of president of the United States immediately jumps on the police, just like what kind of president would ever say, ‘Oh, yeah, he was black. Of course he was breaking into the house.’”

In other words, Beck was painting Obama as the African American version of a white bigot. It’s hard to believe that was unintentional.

Fox & Friends’ host, Gretchen Carlson echoed Coulter by saying, “Reports are coming out that he (Obama) actually wanted that question.” Beck agreed.

Host Brian Kilmeade (who not long ago had to apologize for his own racially questionable statement, though not about Obama) disputed the notion that Obama doesn’t like white people, pointing out that most of his staff and his closest advisors are white.

“I’m not saying that he doesn’t like white people. I’m saying he has a problem. This guy, I believe, is a racist,” Beck replied.

White rights champion Hannity was, as usual, slyer about his racial insinuations, though he heightened the attacks on Gates to further smear Obama. Hannity spent the better part of two segments last night (7/27/09), suggesting that Obama was siding with his racist buddy, Gates, over the morally superior police force. Predictably, Gates was the opening issue of the show.

Hannity barely hid his glee as he went on to play an old video of Gates and a quote of Gates suggesting that affirmative action is still needed and that it would be “as hypocritical as Clarence Thomas” for him to bar other blacks from the white institutions he’s been able to integrate. According to Hannity, that plus the Cambridge police audio tapes prove that “If anybody was preoccupied by race, or using it to make unfair judgments, it was Professor Gates and not the Cambridge Police Department.” By extension Hannity was alleging that Obama was “preoccupied by race” as well.

Well, no big surprise there. Has there ever been a civil rights issue in the news where Hannity (or a favored guest) has not at least suggested that the person of color involved was anti-white? I don’t think so.

Fox News contributor Dick Morris chimed in that the incident gave the public “a rare chance to see the real Barack Obama.”

Hannity, Media Matters' Misinformer of 2008 (and undoubtedly on track for winning again this year), went on to quote a 1994 C-Span interview with Gates in which he said, “My mother hated white people,” and that “It was great” when Malcolm X called the white man “the devil.” Hannity forgot to mention that Gates told that anecdote in the context of his grappling with his mother’s racism, that it was her reaction to Malcolm X he was talking about and that he had continued by saying that watching her reactions to Malcolm X was like “watching the Wicked Witch of the West emerge out of the transforming features of Dorothy. This person I had thought of as this pioneer of the civil rights movement really had a hard time with white people.” He went on to discuss the difficulties with his mother that ensued after he married a white wife. Hardly the picture of a wild-eyed racist.

Morris said, “There is this undercurrent that goes on… I think I was wrong (that Wright and Obama were different).” Morris noted that blacks have a different perception of the police (getting stopped more, etc.) adding, “I think that that runs so deep in the psyche that Obama blurted it out.”

And as if that weren’t enough fear mongering, as the subject changed to health care reform, Morris said that senior citizens “are getting that this is creeping euthanasia.” I'm surprised he didn't suggest that white people would be killed first. But maybe they're saving that for later in the health care debate.

In the “Great American Panel” segment, Hannity repeated the attacks on Obama and Gates. “Let me take it a step further,” Hannity began, saying, “We know there are radicals on college campuses…” and reiterated Gates’ quotes about Malcolm X, once again omitting the context. “And I’m thinking, why would Barack Obama, knowing that he said that at this point, because it’s now public, why would he invite him to the White House?” He again accused Gates of “racial profiling.”

The Gates smear found new life on Fox Nation today. Earlier, it was a top headline: Gates: ‘It was great’ when Malcolm X said ‘White man is the devil.’ As of this posting, the headline is still there but farther down the page. It merely links to a transcript of the 1994 C-Span interview.

Kirsten Powers did an excellent job of rebutting Hannity last night. “You’re trying to paint (Gates) as some crazy radical,” she said, noting that he has a reputation for being moderate and reasonable.

Hannity countered with his most overt suggestion that Obama is a racist, albeit with the same old, guilt-by-association flimsiness. “It’s Sonia Sotomayor – a (wise) Latina woman, it’s – it’s OK for Barack Obama – he can hang out with Jeremiah Wright, people don’t respond to it. I don’t understand the double standard.”

“Why do you have to hold onto this?” Powers asked.

“Because… it reflects on who he is and how he thinks,” Hannity said.

That’s debatable given the way Fox blows up molehills into racial boogeymen but their obsession with painting Obama as a bigot reflects at least as much on who they are.