Fox News has seized on Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s comments about an incident on United Airlines as little more than an excuse to make racial attacks on her.
The backstory about Jackson Lee and the first-class seat on United, as even Fox News acknowledges, is that Jean-Marie Simon’s seat had been canceled and given to Jackson Lee on December 18. Simon says she never canceled her trip and originally accused United of bumping her in favor of Jackson Lee. United says that Jackson Lee was on the waitlist for an upgrade and was given Simon’s seat after the cancellation. United credited Simon the 140,000 points she used to purchase her ticket, gave her a $500 voucher and a seat in the economy plus section.
But Simon seems unable to give up her griping and so does Fox News.
FoxNews.com seized on an unverified accusation that Jackson Lee “regularly does this” to passengers (via a Texas Congressman to Simon) to publish an article attacking Jackson Lee as the "meanest" member of Congress. Even though Jackson Lee seems to be an innocent bystander in the dispute between Simon and United. Apropos of nothing related to the United incident, Fox showcased a quote from Jackson Lee, "I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen" in large, bold letters in the middle of its article.
And since Jackson Lee has argued that being African American made her an “easy target” for the (presumably false) accusation that she improperly took Simon’s seat – well, Fox is now having a field day suggesting that Jackson Lee is a black racist.
On December 26, 2017, Fox News @ Night hosted a debate clearly designed to paint Jackson Lee as a black racist. The video of that debate got embedded in the first FoxNews.com article.
In the December 26 segment, white host Ed Henry said accusingly, “Jackson Lee decided to inject race into this issue,” with the clear suggestion that he “knew” it didn’t belong.
Believe it or not, Henry spent almost an entire segment on this. In case you missed the dog whistle, Henry’s first question, to conservative radio host Larry O’Connor, was, “Why in the world did she inject race into this?”
“This was an outrage,” O’Connor replied. “This has nothing to do with race.” Instead of explaining how he “knew," O'Connor predictably cited a poll that found Jackson Lee the meanest member of Congress.
Henry asked the same “Why would she inject race into this?” question to his liberal guest after suggesting it was Jackson Lee’s own fault Fox was harping on this. “Originally, we thought when we were going through this morning this story, it’s kind of frivolous, it’s about a first-class seat, you know, we should be doing bigger issues and then we hear the Congresswoman went – it was not just one tweet, but a series of tweets suggesting that this issue came up because she’s African American.”
Can’t you just hear the white resentment in those words?
The liberal guest, Democrat Michael Starr Hopkins (who hopes to take Democratic Senator Robert Menendez's seat) did not spend time defending Jackson Lee. Instead, he smartly changed the narrative by arguing that race is an important part of politics and that whether or not it was involved in the United Airlines incident, the tone “starts at the top,” meaning with Donald Trump.
That drew scorn from O'Connor and Henry. But I give Hopkins credit for standing his ground and saying, “Let’s not pretend like the president hasn’t, you know – been a bigot. I mean, let’s just come right out and say it.”
Even better, Hopkins derailed the discussion away from the silly topic of Jackson Lee’s airplane seat.
But, of course, Fox was not to be deterred in its dog whistling.
After first posting the video in its "meanest’ member of Congress,” article, Fox re-posted it in another article called, “Bumped United passenger fires back at Rep. Jackson Lee’s racism charge, airline.” Both those articles were on the FoxNews.com homepage as I wrote this, not from another post calling BuzzFeed “openly bigoted” over a “37 Things White People Need To Stop Ruining” post.
You can watch Henry repeatedly try to make Jackson Lee the villain in an incident that seems to have had almost nothing to do with her, from the December 26, 2017 Fox News @ Night, underneath the screen grab.
(H/T NewsHounds Richard and Priscilla)