In its recent report detailing how Fox
News is anything but "fair and balanced," the progressive media
watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting documented Bill O'Reilly's
obsession with Jesse Jackson. O'Reilly's The Factor program has
run 56 negative segments on Jackson since late 1998. This focus on
Jackson goes deeper, however, than a personal fixation on O'Reilly's part.
Fox News seems to have
undertaken a concerted, network-wide campaign to anoint new leaders of the
African-American community, through a constant drumbeat of negative pieces
on the established leaders, and the allocation of huge amounts of prime time
exposure to the conservative African-American individuals Fox would prefer
For example, "Does Jesse
Jackson Represent the Whole African-American Community" was a major
segment on Hannity & Colmes yesterday. From that program
you expect this sort of thing.
But even The Edge with
Paula Zahn has been pressed into the service of this agenda, running a
recent piece entitled "Is the NAACP Selling Out Black America?"
"leaders" of the African-American community such as the Rev. Jesse
Lee Peterson of an organization called Brotherhood Organization of a New
Destiny, and Kevin Martin of a group called Project 21, are repeatedly given
an amount of airtime by Fox far out of proportion to their positions, if
such exist at all, as African-American leaders.
Fox allies like the
ultra-conservative Newsmax.com get into the act also, running
"stories" like "Civil Rights Leader Questions NAACP's
Legitimacy." And who is that "civil rights leader"? You
guessed it, the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson.
Interestingly, Fox also gives
airtime to spokesmen for the New Black Panther Party, from the opposite end
of the political spectrum as Martin and Rev. Peterson, but still highly
critical of the established African-American leadership.
One of the criticisms leveled
by Martin and Rev. Peterson concerns the close relationship of the
established African-American leadership to the Democratic Party. It
doesn't take a genius to point out that 90% of African-Americans voted for
Gore. Clinton was, and still is, wildly popular in the
African-American community. Any close relationship would seem to be
called for, not something to criticize.
Another constant refrain is
that when Jesse Jackson threatens to lead boycotts of companies which refuse
to end unfair racial practices, he's engaging in "shakedowns" and
"extortion." These Fox-selected African-American
"leaders" don't explain how what Jackson is doing is any different
than what advocacy groups on both the Right and the Left have done for
decades in their respective efforts to correct what they see as corporate
Fox News is owned by
ultra-conservative, Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch. I
can't recall seeing a single African-American host or news anchor on Fox
News. (Come to think of it, I can't even recall seeing an
African-American reporter, although I may have missed one.) It thus
seems doubtful that Fox has its finger on some significant current in the
African-American community that the rest of the media have missed.
This whole effort by Fox is
just one more example of its "unfair and unbalanced" reporting.