In my last post, I wrote that it was no big surprise that Bill O’Reilly used the occasion of the Civil Rights Act’s 50th anniversary to launch a racial attack on Attorney General Eric Holder last night. It’s a tradition for Fox News to “recognize” civil rights events this way. But what’s the excuse of the supposedly liberal, African American guests ostensibly there to debate O’Reilly? Their milquetoast-y blindness to the race-baiting elephant in the room would have been comical if the stakes were not ultimately so serious.
If you ask me, O’Reilly’s lecture to Holder – that he “stop this kind of nonsense” of “using his skin color as a shield” was offensive enough on its face – especially as he snubbed the Civil Rights Act anniversary at the same time. But neither guest – Eboni Williams nor Richard Fowler – seemed to notice. And even if neither is familiar with Fox’s habit of marking civil rights anniversaries with deliberate race baiting, how did each of them miss Fox’s long record of racial attacks on both Obama and Holder? Especially since each appears regularly on Fox?
For example, why didn’t Williams or Fowler bring up Fox’s series of bogus, racialized attacks on Attorney General Holder over the New Black Panther Party? In case you’ve forgotten, Megyn Kelly repeatedly accused Holder of giving racial preference to African Americans by not charging them in a “voter intimidation” case where no voters had been intimidated. That is, until Fox’s own Kirsten Powers stood up to Kelly and called her out on the air for “doing the ‘scary black man’ thing” over the trumped-up accusations of a partisan Republican. Kelly had even gone on The O’Reilly Factor and claimed that black thugs now “can go to” polling places and “basically are gonna get a pass” from the DOJ over voter intimidation.
That attack has been debunked by conservative insider Angela Thernstrom and discredited by an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility. But I have yet to see any apology or retraction from Fox about it, have you?
To his credit, O’Reilly gave Williams and Fowler a chance to challenge him. His first question was, “So where am I going wrong here, Eboni?”
Williams’ response? “To say (Holder’s) just done nothing is just not true.” She went on to say that Holder made it clear he has an agenda over civil rights issues “and on that issue, he’s been very effective.” Which is fine, but completely ignores the stink bomb O’Reilly had just thrown and, even worse, legitimizes it as part of a Serious Policy Discussion.
Fowler cited President Obama being heckled at the State of the Union as proof that he’s treated differently. That’s not a bad example but is it really the best that Fowler can do? How about Fox’s phony-baloney birther “controversy?” How about Fox Nation’s Hip Hop BBQ? “Just asking” if the Obamas’ dap was a “terrorist fist jab?” Hosts' “White Hizzy” jokes? Those are just some of the most famous instances of race baiting against Obama that regularly occur on Fox.
Did neither Fowler nor Williams know about this? Did they not think of any of these examples? Not think they were relevant to the matter at hand? Or did they deliberately pull their punches for some reason even though neither is a paid Fox contributor?
Williams even went so far as to argue that the evidence “is weak” to show a “causal link” between attacks on Holder and Obama and their race. “Yes, there might be some bigots out there… but there are also people that genuinely disagree on the basis of policy and politics and ideology,” she added. Does she really think that Fox engages in such high-minded tactics?
In 2005, NewsHounds’ Marie Therese wrote about the “usual go-along-get-along” Fox liberal. “I swear FOX has a secret lab hidden in the bowels of its New York HQ where a team of mad scientists hatch thousands of these nice, polite, bland Democrats,” she said. If that's not where Fowler and Williams come from then I give up.
I’m all for going along and getting along but when you’ve got a national cable news network doing the bidding for a major political party that is out to get everything you (presumably) stand for – and using smear tactics to do it – well, going along and getting along is nothing less than an epic fail.
Williams does occasionally pipe up forcefully, but Fowler is a lost cause. I’ve wondered what his story is and why he’s doing this. He’s ostensibly a “Democratic strategist,” but what Democrat worth 2 cents would hire somebody to “strategize” for him/her who apparently thinks allowing himself to be repeatedly walked on is the way to go?
Marie Therese had it exactly right. These people are eerie.