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The Media and the Debates

Obama v. Romney Rematch: Louis v. Schmeling 2?

by ISHMAEL REED

I’m a fight fan. I watch Boxeo, HBO, Showtime, Golden Boy, Broadway Boxing and consult MaxBoxing.com and SecondsOut.com weekly, sometimes daily after a big fight. I’m completing a huge book about boxing and so when pundits used boxing metaphors to describe the “whuppin” that the president received from Romney during the first debate, I had a few of my own in mind.

I thought that the president took Romney out into deep water and in the last round scored a knockout when he challenged Romney to cut loose his Tea Party entourage. Romney didn’t have an answer. I thought that Jim Lehrer as a referee was not only incompetent but deferential to Romney, who was using head butts and punching on the breaks and after the bell. Romney worked the referee. Moreover, the jury judging the fight lacked genuine black,and Hispanic participation. (I would also would have demanded a post fight drug test. Romney seemed high on something and though the pundits gave him some Alpha male props as white sports commentators [another Jim Crow section of the media] did when Phil Michelson was paired with Tiger Woods and beat him, recently), and though Romney was congratulated for his performance, which included the usual lies and walk backs, Romney always looked as though he was on the verge of tears. Apoplectic. Not “relaixed” as one pundit said. I thought that Romney insulted the president when he compared him with his boys which his mate, Queen Ann, echoed when she likened the president to a boy playing in a sandbox.

About the debate, Richard Prince wrote: “However, journalists of color were not part of the coverage that gathered all of those [debate] eyeballs, although analysts of color such as Al Sharpton on MSNBC, Van Jones on CNN and Donna Brazile on ABC were.“ Juan Williams of Fox News appeared later Wednesday on Sean Hannity’s ‘Hannity’ but was not part of the special debate coverage. Roland Martin of CNN was on the morning show ‘Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.’ Eugene Robinson, the Washington Post columnist who appears on MSNBC, told Journal-isms by email, ‘I was on at 5 pm and again doing post-debate at midnight. I was in Denver with the Chris Matthews/Hardball crew, which does pre-event and post-event commentary, generally. At least, that has been the pattern with the conventions and the first debate. I was not involved in the New York-based coverage that began at 7 pm and ended at midnight.’

At one time, there was a black media that was so powerful and militant that J.Edgar Hoover wanted to charge the black media with sedition. During the 1960s black militants and The Nation of Islam, who were hot then, demanded that the media send black reporters to interview them. The mainstream media hired reporters, but the reporters had no power. The late Carl Rowan and reporter Barbara Reynolds have
discussed the racist treatment they received from white editors and news people. Within the last few years, there have been firings of black reporters even at NPR where some of those who’d been at the network for decades have been let go.

Those remaining have to navigate a tightrope of “both- sides- do it-ism.” When they get out of line they have to be corralled. Charles Blow was on TV every night behaving as an advocate for Trayvon Martin’s parents, when somebody at MSNBC and The Times must have told him that he had to be more even handed. Give George Zimmerman, who shot the kid in cold blood, equal time with Martin. Have Zimmerman present his side and then have Trayvon Martin present his side. Tea Party network CNN calls Zimmerman, who, unlike vigilantes of the past, is getting paid for it, “sympathetic.” Encouraged by deranged racists,who are making him wealthy, he’s demanding to be put up in five star hotels for a month. Signing autographs, Maybe a future appearance on “Dancing With The Stars.” They’ll line up some Hollywood beauties and have him choose one.

So Charles Blow had to be toned down. How does he do it? Out of nowhere, he calls the support of O.J. Simpson by black Americans “a low point.” He had to show his objectivity by stomping on the brothers and sisters, which is how Bob Herbert kept his job at The Times. I Facebooked Blow, reminding him that three of the leading forensics experts in the country had questions about the case. Blow unfriended me.

Other black pundits, when they get out of line, have to apologize when they take a powerful white man like Mitt Romney to task. MSNBC’s Toure had to apologize for a remark he made about Romney on August 17th. Using the “n-word, Touré said Mitt Romney‘s campaign was sending coded racial messages by using certain words and phrases in campaign speeches: “I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization,’ You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear. The next day he had to say. ‘I muddied the discussion by using the ‘n-word,’ I could’ve made the same point without that word,” he said. “I shouldn’t have used it and for that I’m sorry.”

Melissa Harris Perry had to back up over her comment that she lives in a neighborhood where people are murdered. She resented an attempt on the part of a brown skinned woman named Metha, who defended the “Job Creators” against those forty-seven percent who are looking for handouts. Ms.Metha, a stand-in for her bosses, “the job creators,” who use her brown face to fake out the viewers, said that it was the job creators who took risks. Ms.Harris exploded: “What is riskier than living poor in America? Seriously! What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No! …Being poor is what is risky! We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness.” After the far right Breitbart operation and other heavily bankrolled sites blasted Ms. Perry for her “meltdown, “ she apologized. Breitbart.com,named for the late media bottom feeder, Andrew, who helped to destroy Acorn,Sherry Sherrod, and before death was aiming at the reputation of the late Harvard Professor,Derrick Bell,demanded that a black reporter be suspended after he told the truth just as Harris and Toure had done.( Breitbart is a hero to progressives and liberals like PUMA Arianna Huffington.)

Joe Williams’ troubles began on June 21, when he made a remark on MSNBC suggesting that Romney, the putative Republican presidential nominee, was comfortable only around white people.Richard Prince reported: “The video was first flagged by conservative website Washington Free Beacon.Breitbart.com ran the video and also flagged a series of tweets Williams had written that made fun of the Republican candidate,particularly in regard to his wealth,” So while black pundits have to beg forgiveness in order to stay on at MSNBC, white pundits can smear the poor, without getting suspended. Ms. Perry has to stay after school for defending the poor,but Charles Murray disciple( so is Joan Walsh) Joe Klein, who, like Paul Ryan, is a liar, likes to give character instructions to blacks.He implied that rape is committed exclusively in poor black and white neighborhoods,which is how he and Murray get an RSVPs from the rich. Chris Matthews didn’t correct him nor did the black congresswoman who appeared on the same show. Joe Klein, who gained media power by coming on as a “white militant” wasn’t suspended.  Black pundits who tell the truth about Romney and the poor get scolded by a media that seeks to boost the Romney candidacy. Even awarding both Romney and Ryan victories in both debates. Why?

I think that Ralph Nader, who still manages to remain independent and has the moxie to piss on his hosts, provided an answer. Though MSNBC’s Chris Jansing tried to shut him down, Nader exposed a deal that MSNBC made with the state of New Jersey, which allows them to return the taxes they pay to the state to General Electric, which still has shares in NBC. In doing so, Nader reminded us that the networks don’t do politics in order to inform but to profit. So what would have happened if Romney had lost the first debate? Five hundred million dollars remaining in advertising budgets of the Republican Party would have gone to down races, which would mean that local TV stations would profit instead of the networks, depriving the networks of millions of dollars. They make money by continuing the horse race, like featuring a PEW poll which showed Romney ahead but downplaying a Gallup Poll that showed Obama ahead by five points.Featuring a pro Romney CNN poll which showed Ryan as winner of a debate. but ignoring a CBS poll that showed Biden as the winner. That’s why Obama was accused of being too cool and Joe Biden of being too hot. (Biden floored Ryan when he pointed out that Ryan benefited from a Stimulus program that he criticized; I wish he’d called him on his criticizing ObamaCare, while requesting funds under the program for a hospital in his district.)

After the second debate, I suspect that the media will declare Obama too hot after he KOs Romney. It will be like Joe Louis boxing with Max Schmeling, who was backed by the kind of politicians who would feel right at home in the Tea Party. Joe Louis was knocked out in the first fight, but KO’d Schmeling in their rematch.

Obama is going to have to be prepared for biased refereeing from Candy Crowley, who, judging from her Sunday morning program, is in the pocket of the Romney campaign. She congratulated Romney for his gaining new vigor after the first debate, a sentiment that was confirmed by a CNN reporter, who was a member of a panel that Ms.Crowley let Grover Norquist dominate.The same Grover Norquist,who supported Apartheid South Africa. Ms.Crowly seemed thrilled that Romney, whom white pundits cast as “looking presidential. “has the wind at his back.”

In the following program, Fareed Zakaria hosted a panel that included three pro Romney members and one Muslim Middle East expert. The three were from The Wall Street Journal, The American Enterprise Institute and The Time’s Bill Keller, who has said that as president, Obama is over his head. They were discussing the Middle East. The Muslim Professor kept getting interrupted by the blond from The American Enterprise Institute even though she didn’t know what she was talking about On the next program Howard Kurtz awarded martyrdom status to Buzz Bissinger, who said that he’d received vulgar tweets from liberals after announcing for Romney. Blamed it on the media’s “liberal bias.” Cited MSNBC as an example, which explains why a right wing host runs three hours of Republican talking points each morning. Joe Scarborough called the president’s stimulus program “ a stinking pile of garbage,” and aftera black pundit Carlos Watson challenged him, Watson disappeared from the network.When Markos Moulitsas, a progressive,got into a tweeter fight with Scarborough, the president of MSNBC,the network that according to Bissinger has a liberal bias, banned Moulitsas unless he “apologize to Joe.” Moulitsas refused and never came back.

A half ass feature on Ayn Rand ran on CNN’s Ali Belshi’s show. Nowhere was it mentioned that Ms.Selfish received Medicare and Social Security when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Apparently this example wasn’t lost on Paul Ryan who does the same thing.Says he hates entitlements yet writes letters asking for some.Finally,John King mentioned that the president faces stiff opposition in the Congress without tracing it to the animosity felt toward the president by representatives from the old secessionist states,To think that the Republican party was founded by Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and William Lloyd Garrison.I wonder what they would think of this evil entity that now bears its name.

Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch at www.ishmaelreedpub.com. His latest book is “Going Too Far”. He can be reached through his website: http://ishmaelreed.org/

Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
THE ARAB SPRING AT A CROSSROADS — Esam Al-Amin surveys the new Middle East, from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, to the aftermath of the overthrow of Qaddafi and the civil war in Syria, and outlines the economic and political challenges facing the fledgling Arab democracies; THE BI-PARTISAN PLAN TO GUT MEDICARE: Dave Lindorff digs beneath the rhetoric to expose the grim similarities in both Obama and Romney’s schemes to degrade Medicare by cutting spending, reducing eligibility and privatizing services. KAFKA IN SEATTLE: Kristian Williams details the surreal ordeal of Matthew Duran, thrown into federal prison even though prosecutors admit he committed no crime.
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