Herman Cain, the Latest Black Boogeyman


Ever since the O.J trial, cable have been conducting search after search for a “black boogeyman,” a name given to a product that the brilliant critic, C. Leigh McInnis, says “sells better than sex.” Without the O.J trial, CNN, which is now doing punk services for the Tea Party, and the AEI would have gone under.

The latest candidate for “black boogeyman” ratings is Herman Cain, whom the white right has promoted to deflect charges of racism (he wouldn’t be the first prominent black person to align himself with the right; historically, some have been cozy with the Klan and the Nazi party).

Now, progressives, who’ve been trying to get the white working class to act right for nearly one hundred years, but who fail to realize that the white working class attaches itself more to the one percent than  to progressives in the Berkeley Hills, and the Upper West side, people who get all of their news about blacks from scouts like Cornel West, will say that Cain’s hammering from the media ain’t got nothin’ to do with race. Look at Bill Clinton. Well Cain wasn’t even allowed the “one free grope” rule that Ann Coulter says Gloria Steinem established for Bill Clinton. Nor was Cain defended by Anita Hill who said on national television that the “explicit details of “Clinton’s relationship with Monica shouldn’t be revealed, this after she had put C. Thomas’s member up for public auction and became a millionaire.

Hell, Bill Keller says that he misses Bubba. He used the same words as Don Imus to describe President Obama. That the president is “over his head.” Like Jimmy the Greek said of black quarterbacks. They ain’t got the “necessities.” Obama critic, Chris Matthews, spent a half hour one day scolding Cain. At the end, he made tribute to JFK, who is my man, but he left out the part of JFK’s sexual addiction that led him to engage prostitutes off the streets. Now, they tell us that those were different times and different press coverage, but what about women who were threatened? That if they told about their sexual relations they’d be committed to mental institutions. “Starlets” were warned by their agents that if they didn’t abide the president’s enormous sexual appetites, their careers would be affected. Why isn’t Matthews concerned about what Seymour Hersh calls “ The Dark Side of Camelot?”

I’ll bet Cain wishes he’d gotten some of the man love that Strauss- Kahn received after he was accused of raping a hotel worker. The New York Times, which might do a whole page on a couple of black kids knocking over waffle houses, but hides multimillion dollar corporate white male crimes on the business pages, just about became a member of Kahn’s defense team, tagging along as he dined in expensive restaurants, and admiring his art collection. (I go into the history of white men raping black women and being set free by white juries, who bought the  defense’s argument that “they wanted it,” in my forthcoming book, “Going Too Far,” whose title originated in a review by a young white Hip Hop critic of my book “Juice!” He said that I’ve gone “too far.”)

I’ll bet that Cain wishes he’d had progressive feminists like MSNBC’s Krystal Ball go to bat for him. And maybe NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who sympathized with ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner. Feminists like Ms. Ball and Ms. Totenberg are driving me to tune in to Ann Coulter.

Ms.Ball sat up there on MSNBC and blasted Cain while sitting next to Martin Bashir, who was rewarded with a show because of his sewer ambush journalism on Michael Jackson. On his Friday’s show Basher even dragged in Tiger Woods, which must be the cynical strategy of the networks, the bunching of black males involved in scandal. (Of course,the Exxon and General Electric owned media aren’t the only ones who play this particular race card for money. TheRoot, a zine that Henry Louis Gates fronts for The Washington Post couldn’t meet its payroll without featuring “Black Boogeymen”). The shameless Bashir even  made some corny lectures scolding Cain.This is the same Bashir who made remarks before some Asian American women journalists of such a sexually explicit nature that he had to apologize

According to the British publication Sun, “TELLY journalist Martin Bashir left an audience stunned after a tirade of sexist gags during an after-dinner speech. Bashir hinted he was getting sexually excited while speaking to the Asian American Journalists Association.

“The London-born ABC news host told the Chicago bash: ‘I’m happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes. In fact, I’m happy the podium covers me from the waist down.’”

“He then upset co-host Juju Chang by claiming a speech should be like a dress — ‘long enough to cover the important parts and short enough to keep your interest, like my colleague Juju’s’”. This is the guy who said that Cain should not only withdraw from the presidential race but resign from his post as associate minister of a church. Krystal Ball said nothing about the hypocrisy of Bashir while blasting Cain. She probably wants to keep her job. Or maybe she feels that Asian American women don’t count and that his mass sexual harassment against Asian American women is of negligible interest. After all, minority women have protested that their issues are treated lightly by the feminist mainstream. Maybe that’s why Cain critics, among whom are women, who had big laughs about the destruction of Cain, won’t turn their attention to the rape statistics involving Native American women; 80% of Native American rape victims are raped by white men. Maybe Soledad O’Brien will cover it in a “Native American in America.”

Nicholas Kristof is on a worldwide tour searching for evidence of misogyny when he doesn’t have to leave his work place. He can come home and do a tour about how white men treat women, ninety percent of whom told a scholar at SUNY that they’d been battered, or seen their mothers, daughters, and sisters battered. (She was surprised that they were members of middle class households.)

The only attention given Native American rape victims was by Al Gore’s Current TV, which also tackled the issue of “hundreds” of Boston white kids dying from heroin overdoses, “Gateway to Heroin,” the kind of stories that would alienate CNN’s and MSNBC’s market and advertiser and whose target audience of “angry white males,” according to Rick Sanchez, would find bummers.

So Cain is done and maybe deservedly so. Some of the women who helped to destroy him are saying that serial philanderer Newt Gingrich will probably benefit from the suspension of his campaign. Of course, these network women are little more than servant girls for network Emirs. (Can you imagine the reception that Sarah Palin received at Willie Horton mastermind Roger Ailes Fox Network the day after she was exposed as having a thing for black NBA players?)

You would think that Lawrence O’Donnell would have more power. The saddest sight for me during the Cain controversy was watching Lawrence O’Donnell stoop to the level of a National Enquirer reporter when interviewing a woman who said that she and Cain had a fifteen-year affair. Among the cable shows, I thought that O’Donnell’s had some class. But now that his show is in trouble and he desperately needs ratings; he has to go tabloid like the creepy Martin Bashir. Since he’s going anyway, he might dignify his departure by taking on NBC and the attitudes of some its male personnel toward women. Carole Simpson wrote about it in her book Newslady, which was reviewed in the latest issue of my magazine, Konch, by Jill Nelson who wrote a book Voluntary Slavery about her problems at The Washington Post. Since publishing and cable might be members of the same conglomerate, Simpson’s book, embarrassing to the networks, who mine everybody’s attitude toward women except that of their male personnel,  had to be self-published. Simpson writes, “I had to stand and deliver my report, and while the artist’s sketches of the courtroom scenes were on the screen, the anchorman got down on his knees, reached under my dress and used both hands to fondle my behind. Did I shriek? Did I mess up? No, my delivery was smooth because I had learned not to be distracted by what was going on around me and to me.” The book, which will receive the PEN Oakland Censorship Award on December 10th, is full of anecdotes like this.

Of course, former network newsman, Bob Teague, in his book,”Live-And-Off-color,” had reported that some network executives warned newly hired women that they had to keep certain parts of their body happy in order to get ahead.

Will the women who were used by the network patriarchs against Cain support their sister’s expose of sexual aggression aimed at them behind the cameras? Will Rachel Maddow lead the charge? Will Politico, which scored a scoop on Cain’s alleged sexual adventures, start an investigation? Maybe Nina Totenberg who gets credit for luring Anita Hill into a conflict with Clarence Thomas will woman up. Do any of them have the courage of Mara Liasson who took on the patriarchs who run NPR? According to a report on Sexual Harassment about Ms. Liasson’s efforts, Nina Totenberg was getting paid less than the men at NPR while  tricking Anita Hill into discarding her anonymity. The report said: “National Public Radio, NPR, has had trouble with discrimination since the 1980s, when White House reporter Mara Liasson threatened to file a sex-discrimination case against NPR but eventually settled out of court. A 1988 pay-equity study showed that women, even such NPR bright lights as Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts, were consistently paid less than men. In 1995 Katie Davis, then a contract reporter for Morning Edition and the temporary host of Weekend All Things Considered, filed a $1.2 million suit charging that the network failed to promote her to a permanent position and paid her less than men in comparable jobs. That suit was settled too, for an undisclosed amount.”  What was Nina Totenberg’s position? The woman who goaded Anita Hill into a confrontation with Clarence Thomas? She wimped out. Said that NPR was a nice place to work.

I can understand why some media women and their hypocritical male colleagues would show compassion for the women that Herman Cain allegedly wronged. They’re a sad lot. Most of them seem to be broke. When Clarence Thomas, a lawyer, said that he was subjected to a high tech lynching, in the first famous trial by television, he meant that he wasn’t allowed to cross examine his accusers. Clarence Thomas has become little more that Bush coup leader, Scalia’s yes man on the court, but why were those who are so concerned about the rights of the incarcerated Al Qaeda seem so ridden with ideology that they weren’t concerned about Thomas’s rights and oblivious to some of the contradictions in Anita Hill’s story. Like Thomas, Cain wasn’t given a chance to face his accusers(what happened to the joint press conference of Cain’s accusers, that Gloria Allred, whose problems with the brothers ought to gain entry in some diagnostic manual, was supposed to arrange?) With a media that is hungry for ratings at all cost anybody can come forth and accuse anybody of anything. But why the jokes and laughter about Cain? His relationship with women even ridiculed by David Letterman of all people. And Joe Scarborough. At least nobody died as a result of Cain’s alleged adultery.

Guys like Scarborough don’t have an idea about what it takes for a black man to rise in the corporate world, without nepotism, and networking at country clubs, without leaning on classmates from Yale and Harvard. Blacks have been excluded from the capitalist system since Reconstruction, when, if they looked prosperous, they were lynched or had their were farms taken over through trickery. They lost thousands of acres of property when banished from towns by mobs and when they try to exercise a right of return, they are confronted by Tea Party types, threatening them and waving confederate flags. They’ve been red lined and sub primed, even with good credit and charged higher interest than whites who have lower credit ratings than they. They’ve lost hundreds of billions of dollars as result of racist polices of the FHA and other institutions.

Franklin Roosevelt made a deal with Dixiecrats that excluded them from some of the benefits of the New Deal.

The G.I.Bill, which brought millions of white ethnics into the middle class was known as “the white G.I. Bill.” Even Herman Cain’s being associated with fast foods has been ridiculed, and if he were on welfare he’d be ridiculed too. Would progressives have given him some slack had he merchandised organic sunflower seeds?

The typical all white giggling media jury that Howard Kurtz convened on Sunday, Dec.4,to ridicule Cain ( including Steve Roberts who repeated Tiger Woods obsessed and Imus Alumni Kurtz’s fucking lazy lie that Obama received favorable coverage during the campaign) haven’t the slightest idea the shit that a black man has to take to excel in the corporate world. They couldn’t imagine the problems that the late Reginald Lewis, head of Beatrice International and one of my patrons had to endure to the day of his death. There was almost cheering when his house burned down and when he was dying of a brain tumor he was subjected to cruel treatment by The New York Times which gives too- big- to- fail white male crooks gentle treatment every day (You’d think that the Times giving a wink and nod to the crimes of corporate patriarchs would cease under the Executive editorship of Jill Abramson; Ms. Abramson wrote a big book about Clarence Thomas whose conclusion was that he might have read Playboy from time to time.)

And so another prominent black man has been grilled by a media that, in terms of diversity, still lags behind Mississippi. There is loud media back slapping now that Cain is gone.

I’m glad that he’s gone too, but for a different reason. Cain posed a bigger threat to President Obama’s reelection than any of the people now running. If he’d received the nomination for vice president, all that the GOP would have had to do was to send him to black churches nationwide, have him preach, and sing the gospel with that silky voice of his. They might have gotten one third of the black vote.

Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch. His latest book is “Juice!.” 


Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.

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