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Fox News Leads Concerted Attack on African-American Leadership

August 1, 2001

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 as replacements.

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?"

Self-proclaimed "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 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 misbehavior.

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.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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