Tag Archives: Henry Louis Gates

Does Murdoch Think Obama is a Racist- Or What?

The Grand Poobah of the Fox empire got himself in some hot water when he said he basically agreed with Glenn Beck’s characterization of President Obama. You may remember Beck said the president was racist, and “had a deep seated hatred of white people”. That was after Obama said police had acted stupidly in arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch was interviewed on (what else?) Sky News Australia. He said the president “made a very racist comment”. And what comment would that be, Mr. Murdoch? Like Beck, he must have been talking about the word stupidly, which last I checked doesn’t have racist connotations. No matter. The irony of a man commenting on race who owns the New York Post and pays the salaries of Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and an anchor who once called a fist bump terrorist shouldn’t be lost on anyone.

But wait! Faster than you can say Media Matters, one of Murdoch’s minions rushed to clarify his remarks. He doesn’t agree that President Obama is a racist, or so spokesman Gary Ginsberg told Politico. He wouldn’t comment any further on the interview, however. The White House wouldn’t comment at all. Barack Obama understands too well what a loaded time bomb race is now that he’s president. After the administration’s criticism of the Fox News Channel, is it a reach to think Murdoch was hoping Obama would go for the bait?

Which brings us back to Murdoch’s empire. I’ve always been amazed at the number of people of color who read the New York Post. It must be masochism, or habit, or something I’ll never be able to figure out. And the Fox News Channel? More of the same. Which brings up the question when will folks stop participating in their own marginalization? Ask yourself this question. According to those in Murdoch World, has Barack Obama done anything right since he’s become president?

And still the Post, which is losing money like just about every other paper in America, survives. It survives even after a woman who was fired sues the paper, saying one of her bosses referred to her as “Cha Cha Number One.”  Maybe the empire stays alive because people who ought to know better don’t take it seriously. How many times have you heard somebody say “that’s just the Post, or that’s just the Fox News Channel?”

No matter how many denials Rupert Murdoch may issue about his own views, too many of his media holdings have questionable histories when it comes to race. Remember the infamous “chimp cartoon?” Murdoch apologized for that, but no one, save Sandra Guzman, the woman mentioned earlier, got fired. She had the guts to complain about the cartoon.

All of which means, in the end, it doesn’t matter whether Rupert Murdoch says he doesn’t think Barack Obama is a racist. If it walks like a duck…..

Or am I wrong? You tell me.

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"Beer Summit"- Teachable Moment or Insult?

So was anything really accomplished at Thursday’s meeting between President Barack Obama, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley? Perhaps, in its own way, it was an amicable means of defusing what threatened to become a racial time bomb. The July 16th incident, and the president’s reaction to it, touched off a media firestorm only partly explained by the fact it’s summer, and media typically trolls for news about now.

obama beer summit

I have to admit, there’s a part of me that takes umbrage at the notion that this meeting represented a watershed event in US race relations. In fact, the idea of a “beer summit” insults the memories of people like Medgar Evers, the four little girls bombed to death in the basement of a Birmingham church, Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner. These were people who died so these three plus Vice President Joe Biden could share that beer at the White House.

A harsh assessment? Maybe. But in this age of media hype, there’s no other way to put it. Put simply, could Gates have chilled a bit when confronted by Crowley? Sure. Could Crowley have defused the situation instead of blowing it up by arresting Gates? Yep. Could Obama have chosen his words more carefully, so as not to stoke the media fire? Yes again. Yet none of these things rise to the level of scrutiny the incident has received.

Why all the fuss? Because by using the words “acted stupidly”, Barack Obama stepped out of his assigned role as America’s non racial black president. Suddenly, as far as the media was concerned, he became a spokesman for his race. You can almost hear people thinking, “Geez, we didn’t elect him to talk about racial injustice. Racial responsibility, fine. But not this”.

Which brings up the question, why not this? Why shouldn’t this president be as free to talk about race in  this context as, say, Bill Clinton was? Why hasn’t the issue of racial profiling moved beyond the occasional story in local media? Alas, Barack Obama learned he won’t be able to opine about these sorts of things in the future. Politically, the cost was too high.

When you’re trying to get health care reform passed, talking about race creates a problem. Barack Obama knows this, just as he knows knocking back a cold one with Crowley and Gates won’t change the attitude of that Boston cop who referred to Gates as a “jungle monkey”.

That actually takes work. So just what did Thursday’s beerfest actually accomplish? You tell me.

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Beer for Obama…Will the Gates Story Ever End?

If you have any doubts about how central the issue of race remains in America, consider this. The Google News front page lists the major news stories of the day. Robert Gates is in Iraq.

There are 750 stories flagged about that.

Seven men were busted on terror conspiracy charges in North Carolina. There are 1166 articles about that. The health care debate warrants 733 articles. The continuing controversy over Henry Louis Gates, Barack Obama, and Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge police? 2722 articles. Everyone, and I mean everyone is weighing in on both sides of the racial fault line.

Some dwell on President Obama’s “acted stupidly” comment. While truth might be an absolute defense under normal circumstances, the screaming and hollering that followed kept the story alive, and insured an Obama retraction, or “modification”, or however you want to describe it. Then the president, not “acting stupidly”, invites both Henry Louis Gates and James Crowley to the White House to share that most working class of liquid concoctions, a beer.

obama_beer

Hopefully, some common ground can be found here. Like maybe Crowley’s actions weren’t smart, and neither were Gates’. Do they balance each other out? That largely depends on how you look at things. If you support the police, the scales are obviously on the side of Sgt. Crowley, a cop trying to do his job who was unfairly berated first by Gates, then by the President of the United States. If you’ve ever been the victim of racial profiling, or understand how prevalent a law enforcement tool it’s been, then Skip Gates’ anger is entirely justified, as is his belief that he was treated differently because of his race.

So what does it all boil down to? Is it, as ABC News reports, a question of what beer Obama chooses for this monumental event? Is it who speaks first, who says sorry, and whether or not they shake hands?

Trust me, that’s what you’ll get as “analysis” from even the most “reputable” media. Never mind the health care quagmire, that can wait. Robert Gates (no relation to Skip) in Iraq? Big deal. Better to spend time and effort on Skip Gates, Sarah Palin, the “birthers” movement, and God knows what else. Will somebody focus on what Obama wears to this meeting? Will Gates and Crowley come dressed casual or in suits and ties?

You get the picture. Race matters. A lot. There are those who believe that the election of Barack Obama signaled a turn toward the nation’s post-racial future. Not so fast. There’s real work to do.

What do you think? Is the media overplaying the Gates controversy?

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