Has Joe Gone Loco Over Frisco and More ?

Photograph Source: U.S. Department of State – Public Domain

Blacks have criticized the American press for over 100 years. It was Booker T. Washington who said that the American media emphasized Black “weakness.” Since the 1960s, there have been books, reports, and columns about the coverage of Blacks that verify Washington’s claim, the latest from Pew Research Center.

The media remains a white industry with a sprinkle of Black and Brown faces who get chastised or even fired if they step out of line.

The Pew study showed Blacks to be upset with their negative portrayal in the media, which includes outright lies about the Black condition. One of the most popular talk shows is “Morning Joe.”

On September 25, 2023, Yascha Mounk, a glib, fast-talking German-born political scientist, promoted a book about identity politics, which he says hurts the feelings of white students and converts them into racists. He doesn’t mention the thousands of assaults on Black students that have occurred over the decades, including the assaults on Black students after the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. He desires a curriculum emphasizing a European heritage; German history is an excellent example of a unified European heritage. He then lied. He said that P.P.P. loans that were offered to small businesses that suffered because of COVID-19 preferred race over merit. Wrong. “While 79 percent of white-owned companies received all the P.P.P. funding they sought, only 43 percent of Black-owned firms.” Moreover, members of Congress who publicly opposed such loans were beneficiaries and the institute that provides them with their philosophy,The Ayn Rand Institute received more than $713,000.

The two Black guests, including a member of The Times’ editorial board, didn’t challenge him.

I watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, where a group of white guys sit around talking about the ball scores, Black crime, and left-wing students on campus. Their favorite film is “Field of Dreams.” Their hero is Ronald Reagan, who called Black people “monkeys.” Homelessness began with Reagan because he cut housing subsidies by seventy percent, and though he denied responsibility, a crack epidemic started in the Black community because he and his far-right friends wanted to raise some money for his Contra allies. The typical crack addict is white, however. This has been known since the 1990s, yet Joe and his friends view “the white working class” as an entity to be revered when the white working class is seen as unproductive meth addicts who sleep with their babysitters, according to thinkers who are further right than he. Elements of the white working class are grabbing all of the fentanyl and opioids that they can lay their hands on.

The token woman, Joe’s co-host, is Joe’s wife, Mika Brzezinski, one of those corporate feminists who Amiri Baraka predicted wouldn’t want to change the system because they wanted in. Her feminist solidarity, nor that of other MSNBC and CNN media feminists, does not extend to their Palestinian sisters, the kind of treatment of Black and Brown women by white feminists that drove the late bell hooks crazy. Maryam Aldossari, Researcher of Gender Inequality in the Middle East, must have had Mika, Stephanie Rule, Nicolle Wallace, Erin Burnett, and Andrea Mitchell in mind when she wrote “The message leading Western feminists are sending to Palestinian women is loud and clear: your suffering does not matter.” White women were not the only mouthpieces for the IDF and Bibi’s right-wing settler government; Black women at CNN were also used. Anna Cabrera, a Latina, was the most enthusiastic in her support of Bibi. A balanced assessment of Bibi’s war came from Joy Reid and our friend Noga Tarnopolsky, a journalist in Israel. She mentions that Bibi has been a supporter of HAMAS in the past. In the latest issue of Konch, ishmaelreedpub.com, Carla Blank remembers spending ten weeks in Ramallah with a theater company of Palestinians and not finding a single “human animal” among them.

 On October 27, Joe minimized the casualties suffered by Palestinians. Said that they were exaggerated by HAMAS when anyone who watches Al Jazeera and the BBC can witness the devastation of Palestine. If the dismemberment of Israelis by HAMAS was “barbaric,” which it was, is the dismemberment of Palestinian women and children from the air less “barbaric?”

 In 2000, when I returned from the Middle East, after visiting schools in Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel, Jordon and Egypt, I published students’ writings. They want to live peaceful, productive, and creative lives. It’s hard-headed old guys like Bibi and the Mullahs who stand in their way.

 On September 27, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, in a fit more apoplectic than usual, described San Francisco as a scene of “chaos and madness,” and said that Brooke Jenkins, the city’s district attorney, was “permissive.”

For Alta Journal, I’ve written about the regular digs at the city promoted by columnists at The New York Times, whose Op-eds about the city share the pianissimo version of Scarborough’s rants, but how do their opinions square with the facts?

I called my play “The Conductor,” which ran for two engagements at the theaterforthenewcity.net in New York, a Living Newspaper, borrowing a theatrical form used by a W.P.A. theater unit of the 1930s, where journalists and playwrights collaborated on scripts. It was closed down by the Republican Party for being too radical. Using this form, I kept adding and deleting lines as I responded to news reports. The changes drove my excellent cast crazy.

My play began by examining the Recall of two San Francisco public school board members, Gabriella López and Alison Collins. They wanted to replace the controversial admissions tests with a lottery so that Black and Latino parents would have a chance to place their children in one of the city’s elite high schools. Those who preferred testing began a bogus Recall movement. The need for such a reform was proven by a study that showed the more money your parents possessed, the more likely you were to ace your SATs. “One-third of the children of the very richest families scored a 1300 or higher on the S.A.T., while less than 5 percent of middle-class students did, according to the data from economists at Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard. Relatively few children in the poorest families scored that high; just one in five took the test at all.”

Though the face of the Recall movement was that of a noncitizen Indian immigrant, Siva Raj, whose children were not enrolled in San Francisco schools, the money behind the Recall was supplied by two billionaires whose names were ignored by the local press to disguise the Recall movement as arising from the grassroots. The Chinese immigrants who were used to front the drive were like those few that were used by Ed Blum at Harvard to end Affirmative Action. In my play, I could point to statistics that showed not a single case of discrimination against Asian Americans at Harvard. When called to testify at hearings, Asian American students supported Affirmative Action. Not only that, the nonprofit Asian American Advocacy Fund said the Harvard Affirmative Action ruling used the Asian American immigrant group as “pawns.” They said, “The white supremacist agendas behind these lawsuits use the small number of Asian Americans against affirmative action as pawns in their efforts.” The corporate media featured Ed Blum as the spokesperson for Asian American students. He was another white man playing Charlie Chan with financial support from the Scaife Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Bradley Foundation, which financed Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve.

The coverage of the story by the mainstream press omitted the local right-wing billionaires that financed this bogus discrimination claim in San Francisco. One of these San Francisco-based billionaires, William Oberndorf, paid the current district attorney Brooke Jenkins over $100,000, which wasn’t disclosed until she replaced district attorney Chesa Boudin, someone Scarborough would call “permissive.”

However, crime and homelessness decreased under Boudin, while arrests of people with low incomes have increased under the current District Attorney Jenkins, whom Scarborough also called “permissive” even though she’s following the Manhattan Institute’s “broken windows” policy of cracking down on the poor. She’s run into trouble with what remains of San Francisco’s Black community for refusing to indict a security guard for murdering a non-violent shoplifter. Scarborough, who must have startled his colleagues with the disturbing quality of his tirade, said he opposed reforms in the criminal justice system. Does he believe it’s fair for Black defendants to be charged with higher bail than whites?

It had been a while since I visited San Francisco, but I had seen depictions of the city by the Eastern media, including CNN and MSNBC. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I encounter scenes of “madness and chaos” like scenes from the movies “Purge 1” and “Purge 2”? So when I went to see “Soul Train,” a musical based on the life of Don Cornelius, the host and owner of “Soul Train,” I didn’t know what to expect.

From when the Lyft driver exited Van Ness to our return home, I witnessed thousands of people downtown at work, shopping, and attending museums. There were hundreds wearing convention badges and entering and exiting hotels. A sold-out audience, ninety percent of whom were elderly and white, was treated to a show that exhibited a survey of popular music from Rock and Roll to Hip Hop and beyond. Joe and his co-hosts believe that Rock and Roll begins with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Zora Neale Hurston mentions Rock and Roll in her autobiography, “Dust Tracks On The Road,” which was published in 1942.

It was a great show of song and dance held at the American Conservatory Theater. Some of those in their 70s and 80s were dancing in the aisles. I returned to San Francisco for the American Book Awards, which honored the 2023 winners. Among them is Maxine Hong Kingston. After the ceremony, I stood on the steps of the San Francisco Public Library in Civic Center, awaiting a Lyft that would return us to Oakland. Across from me was City Hall, where, in the following week, the late Diane Feinstein would lie in state. I remember the horrible day when Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were slain. The late Warren Hinckle 111  reported that some police gathered in a bar cheered when hearing the news that the two had been gunned down by supervisor Dan White. One said, “Way to go, Dan.” I remember my partner Carla returning from Mills College and hearing the news, standing stunned on the threshold of the apartment we’d rented.  Moscone’s daughter Jenifer had been one of her students at Convent of the Sacred Heart. Civic Center was peaceful today. Hundreds of people were milling about. None of Joe’s madness or chaos was present. I returned on the night of October 29 to see Filipino American Jessica Hagedorn, novelist, and playwright, who was one of those who sparked a Renaissance in the 1970s. Hundreds turned out for the event in connection with a Pacita Abad exhibit, which was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. And once again, no chaos and madness.

We thought that CNN was after a balanced portrayal of the city when they sent a crew to the Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley to view a virtual reading of my play, “The Conductor,” and live Q&A with Alison Collins and Gabriela López, which was to be included in a special about San Francisco.

Shortly after CNN filmed the virtual reading and Q&A, we were told their recorded segment about my play would not be used. The rejection coincided with the announcement that a Trump supporter had bought “a piece of CNN” and vowed to move it to the right. So, in the documentary about San Francisco, which dropped the segment about my play, CNN’s negative view of San Francisco prevailed over a balanced point of view. The new investor, John Malone, who contributed to Trump’s inauguration, got the headline about the city that he desired. Sarah Sidner prompted a woman she interviewed to say that progressives are destroying San Francisco.

This lovely city includes stately mansions but mostly miles of middle-class homes. Writer Alejandro Murgia has written about the gentrification of the traditional Latino enclave, the Mission District. He cites Google, which has its buses that block traffic as they pick up employees along Market Street. Would the hi-tech industry invest in a city where, according to Joe Scarborough, madness and chaos reign?

East Coast writers book 5-star hotels to cover what Nancy Pelosi, appearing on CNN on September 17, called “a small section of the city.” They use the Tenderloin district to define the city. Then, they return to Manhattan, which is a paradise.

I don’t expect the criticism of San Francisco, which concentrates on a small section of the city, to cease. But one would hope that Joe Scarborough would show as much outrage about big crime perpetrated by criminal banks and the pharmaceutical industry as he does about smash-and-grab style operations or cite the Fossil Fuels CEOs who lied about climate change and hired hack politicians and public intellectuals to deny it exists. Granted that fentanyl is a problem, but San Francisco’s “permissive” Jenkins will see that the peddlers do time. The Sackler family, Joe, who put so much dope out there that white longevity has declined, will not be imprisoned. Jenkins blasts criminal courts for freeing Tenderloin fentanyl sellers, San Francisco drug arrests are the highest in decades, conviction rates are up, and she shrank the unit investigating police conduct. The Sackler family won’t spend a day in jail.

 Governor Gavin Newsom, however, cited crime statistics which found higher crime rates in Red cities during his spin room commentary, which followed the second G.O.P. debate where Blacks were signified on, without challenge from questioners that didn’t include a Black journalist. Scarborough also mentioned crime in the Red States but emphasized crime in cities with large Black populations because coverage of crime committed by Blacks draws ratings.

But maybe Joe is soft on white-collar crime like that committed by the Sacklers. Is that why he devoted so many days of affectionate treatment to Donald Trump in 2016 that his show was nicknamed “Morning Trump”?

When Carlos Watson challenged his disproportionate coverage of Trump in 2016, he was bullied into oblivion. Maybe that’s why Scarborough’s Blacks don’t challenge him. They don’t want the same thing to happen to them.

Now he’s drawing ratings by being against Trump, the media’s all-purpose orange cash cow.

“Blues Lyrics by Ishmael Reed” accompanied by the West Coast Blues Caravan of All Stars featuring David Murray and Ronnie Stewart, is available at Bandcamp.com

Ishmael Reed’s latest play is “The Conductor.”