This article is spot on and should be shared wherever possible. It’s a six page analysis of the problem with Fox News’ race-baiting and it’s effect on the country. I’m only covering the first page and have linked to subsequent pages…
Night after night, Fox News doubles down on hate. Whether George Zimmerman, Bundy or Ferguson, it just gets worse.
With this framework as background, it’s not hard to understand the evolution of even more pernicious extremist variants in the right-wing media, which Boehlert sketched out. It began with Andrew Breitbart and his website announcing that “basically racism had been eradicated, and that anyone who talked about the topic was therefore a racist,” especially “civil rights activists and civil libertarians … because by raising questions, or talking about it, or discussing it, they were trying to rip the country apart, because the country is already solved racism.”
Thus, the allegation is that simply talking about race in America makes you a racist. It is, as Boehlert called it, “a very odd brand of projection” that’s “very weird and complicated,” but that’s where the roles of endless repetition and cognitive closure come in. They naturalize and normalize what would otherwise clearly be both arbitrary and bizarre. After years in development, the result can be quite stunning, as Boehlert went on to note:
That’s like Glenn [Beck] that went on Fox News and called the president of the United States a racist, because he dared to discuss it in the wake of the Henry Louis Gates arrest in Cambridge. So that’s why he was denounced as having ‘a hatred of white people. Why? Because he talked about race.”
Of course, the framework of colorblind racism also explains the persistence of racial stereotyping, albeit in a “cultural” framework. But the right-wing media takes this aspect to extremes as well, which accounts for another, contradictory tendency: the persistence of “increasingly race-baiting rhetoric,” including all manner of things that Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck have been saying about Obama since his inauguration. “This is some of the most rancid, insulting kind of gutter rhetoric you could imagine,” Boehlert said.” But the cone that they’ve tried to protect themselves in is that the other people are the racists. It’s very weird. I guess said, it’s a lot of weird projecting going on.”
While the development of colorblind racism as Bonila-Silva describes it took place over decades, the nastier variants in the right-wing media developed much more rapidly, spurred on in part by Obama’s election. They have now burst forth in multiple forms, one of which is the automatic demonization of any black victim, and the matching valorization of whoever killed or injured that victim. Of course, the specific details of any given case are not always so accommodating to the pre-determined colorblind racist script. As a result, in the killings of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, we’ve strikingly similar false claims about both victims, as well as the men who killed them, and some of those claims have persisted quite powerfully, despite all evidence to the contrary.
While we’ve seen some of those attitudes most brazenly expressed on the Darren Wilson Gofundme site, we see more subtle echoes reflected in statements of support that are carefully crafted to conform to “all-American” norms, such as calls for due process — which Michael Brown, naturally, did not get, and which would not be threatened by treating Wilson like any other murder suspect.
This reflects a broader phenomenon, the persistent power of misinformation, which an inter-disciplinary collection of researchers has been studying for some years now. Most recently, I wrote about one study of misinformation in the context of three initiatives on Washington state’s 2006 ballot. The issues involved were much less charged than the murder of an unarmed black teenager, but all the better, it occurred to me. It may be easier to anecdotally recognize extremely charged distortions in a rapidly shifting framework of rationalizations (unless you’re a Fox News devotee), but as a matter of scientific methodology, it’s easier to study less-charged distortions in more stable issue areas.