Last night, Fox News’ On The Record did its part to smear the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March On Washington and "I Have A Dream" speech by teaming up with Fox News contributor Herman Cain to promote the false impression that conservatives had been excluded from the commemoration. In reality, top Republicans declined invitations to attend and speak. But that information was downplayed and mentioned only in passing as both Cain and host Greta Van Susteren, along with a Fox News producer, made an uninformed and uninformative effort to promote a narrative that the event had deliberately snubbed conservatives. Also ignored? How Scott has distorted Dr. King's message in the past. UPDATED
As The Washington Post reported, many top Republicans were invited to yesterday’s event and all declined. In my post last night, I noted reports of invitations – and turndowns – from each former President Bush, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, John McCain and Jeb Bush. WaPo wrote:
The Rev. Leah D. Daughtry of the House of the Lord Church in the District, who served as executive producer of the commemoration, said the organizing committee began sending invitations to top leaders of both parties “on a rolling basis probably four or five weeks ago.”
“We had a very concerted effort, because this is not a political moment. This was about us coming together as a community, so we wanted to be sure that we had all political representations,” Daughtry said. “We attempted very vigorously to have someone from the GOP participate and unfortunately they were unable to find someone who was able to participate.”
But instead of noting the GOP’s lack of willingness to take part (the larger, more substantial story), On The Record fixated on the insignificant – and quite possibly false – assertion that Republican Senator Tim Scott, an African American, had not been invited.
The segment began with Van Susteren saying, “Senator Tim Scott must be feeling a bit left out. The African American Republican senator not asked to speak on the Mall today. …Other Democrats, including President Obama and several Democratic Congressmembers did speak. So why was Senator Scott not even asked to speak?”
As she spoke a banner on the lower third of the screen read, “TIM SCOTT SNUBBED: BLACK GOP SEN SNUBBED AT MLK ANNIVERSARY.”
“Some Republicans were invited,” Van Susteren acknowledged – and immediately offered some excuses for not attending: Bush 43 was “recovering from surgery,” Speaker Boehner was “out of town and participated in another Martin Luther King event earlier.” She also noted that Cantor had been invited without explaining his absence. Then she added, “The only African American, U.S. Senator, Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, not asked to speak.” She asked Cain, who is not a member of Congress, was not involved in the march and appeared to have no information about the subject whatsoever other than being an African American Republican, “Why not?”
In the first place, Scott, an appointed Senator who will face a special election in 2014 to retain his seat, is hardly part of any leadership, Republican or otherwise. Secondly, although Scott’s office said he had not been invited, according to Roll Call, a spokesperson for the event said “all members of Congress were invited to attend.” Thirdly, Scott is a right-wing extremist who has made inflammatory suggestions that President Obama is not a Christian who has “consistently found himself on the wrong side of the concept of the rule of law,” and has argued that, “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. …We need a revolution in this country.” But perhaps most importantly, as Right Wing Watch has reported, Scott has used Martin Luther King's name to promote policies King would certainly have abhorred:
Scott also enlists Martin Luther King to support the Tea Party’s anti-spending agenda (pay no attention to King’s actual call for government action on jobs). He said at a 2012 MLK commemoration that his deficit-cutting efforts were akin to King’s movement: "We can't be free when we have a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, there is no freedom in America for a black man, a white man, a Jew, a gentile, a Protestant or a Catholic. We can't be free.” He has told constituents, “The more we spend, the less freedom we have.”
But none of that information was given to the “we report, you decide,” network’s viewers. Instead, Cain falsely stated that Scott was not invited to speak,
Because he is a conservative Republican, pure and simple. …I know Senator Scott and I know that he would have moved heaven and earth in order to be there if he were invited. The fact of the matter is, the entire commemoration had a very liberal flavor to it. That’s why Senator Scott was not invited.
That would have been the perfect moment for Van Susteren to highlight how many conservatives had declined to be there. But instead, she offered the mildest of challenges – and one she almost surely knew would be brushed aside: “Is there any chance, that it was just sort of like – sometimes things happen, there are oversights, for whatever reasons. I’ve made blunders in myself. Or was it a deliberate slight because of his politics?”
If Van Susteren really wanted to know, she would have asked someone with that information. Instead, her question allowed Cain to rant a little bit more against the event:
Greta, I believe it was a deliberate slight because of his politics. And this isn’t the first event that those of us that are conservative …were noticeably left out. So no, I don’t think it was an oversight. They were meticulous enough to invite all of the Hollywood stars and everybody else that they wanted to be there. You have one black United States Senator. That’s not an oversight, Greta. That’s something that was done deliberately, in my opinion.
As I also wrote last night, Bill O'Reilly has been concern trolling the "grievance mongering" over the MLK anniversary event. He really ought to include this phony-baloney griping in his next lecture. But he almost surely will not.
UPDATE: Roll Call found proof that Scott was invited to the event and declined. Or, to put it another way, Scott was the one doing the snubbing.
I wouldn’t feel good for the odds for the 19th amendment either which prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex.
I’m not joking. The right today has gone totally looney tunes.
It’s totally fake, just an invitation to her guest to deliver his own rant.
The problem is that we tried that- All that happened was that the counter to their propaganda got lost, and their audience got not only worse with their rhetoric, but bolder with it.
The only black person I can think of that would be an even more inappropriate presence is Allen West- Even Homophobic Ben Carson could take the podium before those two. He wouldn’t be a welcome presence, given his crusades against women and the LBGT community, but compare him to Scott and West.