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Fox Has Gone to a Creepy, Creepy Place

July 22nd, 2010 · 21 Comments

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Tags: Journalism & the Media



21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 anonymous white guy // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Well, I pretty much agree with everything she presents with the exception of the ACORN shenanigans.

  • 2 anonymous white guy // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    most definitely a pattern

  • 3 Geoff G // Jul 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I was just a kid in the sixties, but I have vague memories of this stuff. Those memories were rekindled a few months back when I toured the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and saw the exhibits detailing the massive amount of hate “welcoming” JFK to Dallas. The memories actually made the hair on the back of my neck stand up because of the resonances between the shenanigans of the Birchers, Trilateralists and other hate groups in those days and the tea parties today.

    No respectable conservative today would look at the ridiculous charges levied against Kennedy – the fears of impending “tyranny” and the takeover of the US by the UN, the coming gun confiscation, the forcing of blacks and whites to live and eat and work together – and say “Those guys had a point.” In fact, at least in the 80’s and 90’s, a lot of conservatives held JFK up as a model of a reasonable liberal – he cut taxes after all – not a proto-Stalin.

    But today, too many conservatives are riding the tea party tiger and working overtime to stoke fear of a liberal “Other” and scary black people. They know a lot of what the partiers are saying is crazy, but they tolerate it because it undermines Obama, and anything that does that is per se worthwhile, regardless of whether it’s true, regardless of whether it’s hateful. Surely decent conservatives are capable of taking a step back and asking themselves “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, will we look back on this with pride or shame?” In the sixties, the step back came when JFK was murdered (by a madman, not a wing-nut). Conservatives have ample reason to back off the hate, whether or not they fear getting tarred with something awful if something awful happens. You know it’s wrong. It’s not made right by whatever depredations you think liberals are inflicting on the world. Just stop. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to bring down Obama with the truth, if only you give it a try.

  • 4 Dan // Jul 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

    We could add the Ground Zero mosque to this list of racially charged right wing issues.

    Also she forgot to mention the other common thread between all four stories: Breitbart.

  • 5 Julian Sanchez // Jul 22, 2010 at 11:54 am

    So, yeah, it would’ve been nice to see her acknowledge that there was a genuine issue with Van Jones—signing a Truther petition, even if he somehow misunderstood what he was endorsing, is probably grounds for resignation. And ACORN seemed shady even if many of the attacks on it were overblown or dishonest. Some of the individual stories are bogus, and some are legitimate, but in each case they’re deployed to advance a broader narrative that’s really repulsive.

  • 6 Julian Sanchez // Jul 22, 2010 at 11:56 am

    …and Sotomayor. I think she was sticking with stories where African Americans are the boogeymen to fit the George Wallace conceit, but if we open it up we could certainly make a long list.

  • 7 David // Jul 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    The strategy behind all this reminds me of what Julian and David Weigel wrote about here:


  • 8 John Goes // Jul 22, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I think these kinds of discussions are incomplete without addressing the primary source of “white anxiety”: disparate impact laws and black crime. Fox News is a network for angry peasants shouting “rabble rabble”, we already knew that.

  • 9 Jess // Jul 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Let me stipulate to all of the above, and then ask, if a Republican administration had fired Sherrod in exactly the same way for exactly the same reason, would said administration have come in for just a bit more criticism? I can see Breitart getting sued for defamation or whatever, but in a real sense he is not who fired this woman.

    On the other hand, it had also been my impression that government workers are hard to fire, which impression, happily, is contradicted by these events. If Breitart has his finger on the trigger, maybe we could convince him to fire the entire DEA and ATF or, come to think of it, most of the USDA.

  • 10 Gil // Jul 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I agree that Fox News frequently exploits irrational prejudices and fears to boost ratings, and that it’s ugly (although I have some quibbles about how much these items are really strong evidence of the strategy Maddow implies).

    Of course, Rachel Maddow also exploits irrational prejudices and fears of her audience to boost ratings every day. It’s just a slightly different set of them.

    I don’t find Maddow any less creepy (or her agenda less dangerous).

    Maybe I’m post-racial.

  • 11 K. Chen // Jul 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    There is a core insight here, in that its not about hurting Blacks, but leveraging them to manipulate whites. Not that it makes it any less loathsome.

  • 12 Jess // Jul 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    K, hasn’t that been the case for a long time?

    When a politician goes after a minority, race-based or not, he does so in order to appeal to his ugly appraisal of the majority. Anyone who thought Obama would be an exception should know better by now. He may be on the right side of the Arizona thing, but if Republicans nationally decided not to support the governor and her stupid law, he’d forget about the whole deal. Whenever anyone tells me to hate and fear someone else, I grow more suspicious of the speaker than the target.

    I think the punditry has gone a bit overboard with the Maddow-love, anyway. This obsession with a conflict between rival commercial interests is too inside-baseball for most citizens. What really happened is, some scumbag blogged some lies about some random government employee, and our fearless leader broke speed records in firing her before doing any research at all. Then later Fox reported the firing and the explanation given for the firing, and then later Fox’s soi-disant “rival” reported Fox’s reporting. Can we have a sense of proportion please? I note that Sherrod herself seems more unhappy with the President than some media company, although her lawyers will probably widen the scope of her ire a bit before bringing suit.

  • 13 In Between Names // Jul 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    […] July 23, 2010 Uncategorized Leave a Comment Julian Sanchez posts Rachel Maddow’s assault on Fox News’ pandering to white racial anxiety with the posting […]

  • 14 Julian Sanchez // Jul 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Yeah, I’m actually comfortable saying that the tribal anxieties Maddow is working are, insofar as one can judge these things, less disgusting. Which isn’t exactly an endorsement, but Fox is plumbing a deeper sewer.

  • 15 Jesse Walker // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I don’t think Van Jones or (for the most part) ACORN fit Maddow’s narrative very well; I think the New Black Panthers and Shirley Sherrod do. But the NBPP story only recently moved from sideshow to center stage, and Sherrod of course happened just this week. Both are part of a noticeable recent shift on the right, which also includes a sudden interest in finding race and gender preferences buried in places like the auto bailout and the financial regulation bill (both of which I’m against, but zeroing in on an obscure racial angle is just weird). And Breitbart’s gone all-race-all-the-time.

    These appeals to racial resentment weren’t a major factor even just a few months ago. In the past you might have seen, say, Glenn Beck making a bizarre argument that ObamaCare is really a reparations bill, but that sort of argument never really caught on with the rank and file.

    So there’s a significant development here, but people like Maddow don’t catch it; they always see racism at work, even when it isn’t, so they’re blind to its ebs and flows. Nor can they distinguish between this wave and previous waves, even though there are significant and suggestive *differences* between the Wallace comic (which I’ve actually read!), the “hands” ad, and the contemporary stuff. So I found the clip pretty shallow, though there’s more truth to it than the average Republican will want to admit.

  • 16 Jesse Walker // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    By the way, one thing the four stories do have in common is that they’re more anti-left than anti-state. Glenn Beck may describe himself as a libertarian, but he’s the sort of guy who gets more worked up about Van Jones being green czar than he does about the fact that we have a green czar at all.

  • 17 tks // Jul 23, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Breaking: Conservative Establishment Rewards Racism for 50 Years


  • 18 JasonL // Jul 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    +1 Jesse Walker on this.

    One of the more irritating aspects of Beck’s style has been his way of taking issues and encouraging people to connect the dots – which is to say examine this case through your biases to create a narrative you find easy to believe. This is just Maddow doing the same trick. ACORN and Van Jones don’t fit this story very well, but seen through a certain lens you could mention them to generate nods among people who already believe that story.

    Overlooked by Maddow is the probability that recent events with Sharrod is in part a right side reaction to the exact same game being played by the left when dealing with tea party types and gun owners. Scary white men with guns. Racists all.

    That’s not to dismiss how disgusting the right has been recently. Sharrod, NBPP, and pretty much everything Briebart does absolutely fits Maddows narrative, and they are doing it because it seems to have legs. Race is a political tool, used by everyone.

  • 19 MBH // Jul 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Julian, I’d be interested to hear your response to this brief attempt to bridge the gap between Rawls and Hayek.


  • 20 Barry // Jul 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Jesse Walker // Jul 22, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    “By the way, one thing the four stories do have in common is that they’re more anti-left than anti-state. Glenn Beck may describe himself as a libertarian, but he’s the sort of guy who gets more worked up about Van Jones being green czar than he does about the fact that we have a green czar at all.”

    And was Glenn Beck performing long paranoid skits about George ‘l’etat, c’est moi’ Bush?

    Or did he discover his worries about the Evil Fed Tyranny when a Democratic President took office?

  • 21 Barry // Jul 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Julian, a comment – Fox News was founded as a political propaganda rag, from its conception. There is no other news network that I’m aware of which has a party’s former national committee chair as CEO. It’s not surprising that Fox is terrible; what’ s surprising whenever they’re actually doing journalism.