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The Media’s Double Standard on Race

It’s grown worse than ever this political season

In November 2005, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) had the audacity to hold a fundraiser for her Democratic colleague Sen. Robert Byrd—a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and a stalwart opponent of landmark civil rights legislation—at the home of civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglas.

Suffice it to say, had Clinton and Byrd had an “R” next to their names, it’s likely that this act of very questionable judgment would not have been ignored by the mainstream media. Unfortunately, when it comes to allegations of racism, many conservatives such as myself have realized that the mainstream media give cover to their Democratic friends while habitually playing up accusations of racism against Republicans and, sometimes, even creating controversy where none exists.

We recently saw this double standard in full effect when both Senators George Allen and Joe Biden made racially insensitive comments that were caught on tape. Allen’s “macaca” incident was widely covered in print and on cable news while Biden’s crack about all 7-Elevens in Delaware being run by Indians was virtually ignored.

But last week, with the control of Congress potentially on the line, we saw the mainstream media make a blatantly obvious attempt to amplify allegations of racism to help a Democratic candidate for Senate—Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D.-Tenn.).

If you haven’t yet seen the Republican National Committee ad that led to the allegations of racism, basically, it’s satirical in nature and features a series of fake street interviews criticizing Ford. “When I die, Harold Ford will let me pay taxes again!” says one of the actors, referring to Ford’s support for the death tax. Another actress playing a Playboy bunny (Ford attended a Playboy party at the 2005 Super Bowl in Tallahassee) says, “I met Harold at the Playboy party.” She later reappears at the end of ad and says, “Harold, call me” while winking seductively into the camera.

Almost immediately, the ad was denounced as racist and a firestorm erupted, which eventually led to the RNC’s pulling the ad. But while all the ad’s critics agreed that the ad was racist, few offered explanations as to how it was racist.

On Thursday, the New York Times clearly struggled to explain why some found the ad racist in a news story by vaguely saying that, “Critics asserted that the advertisement was a clear effort to play to racial stereotypes and fears.” The Times went on to paraphrase the director of the Washington bureau of the NAACP, as saying that the ad “took aim at the sensitivities many Americans still have about interracial dating.”

Then, in an editorial on Friday, the Times took another stab at explaining how that ad was racist by saying that it was “transparently honed as a racist appeal to Tennessee voters” and that it resonated “with the miscegenation taboos of Old South politics.”

Still, despite the big words, this is not an explanation of how the ad is racist but rather a condemnation of the people of Tennessee as racists. In the mind of the media elite, the thought of showing a white woman asking a black man to call her will cause the bigots of Tennessee who hate black people to think again about voting for a black person. Makes sense, right?

Regardless, after nearly a week of the mainstream media’s crying racism, Ford himself made clear on Fox News Sunday that he didn’t think there was a racist appeal to the ad. Instead, he merely said, and I agree, that the ad was “smutty” and inappropriate.

The mainstream media’s disdain for those that play to “racial stereotypes and fears,” however, is not universal. When the racial stereotyping is done by Democrats—and the mainstream media generally agree with the stereotyping—it is no longer deemed newsworthy.

There was barely a peep last week from the mainstream media about an actual racially tinged attack against Maryland Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate Michael Steele. During a comedy routine in front black business owners in Maryland, Rep. Steny Hoyer—currently the No. 2 Democrat in the House—said Steele had “a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party.”

Slavishly.

If this comment had not been part of a prepared comedy routine, it would be easy to dismiss as a bad choice of words. Case closed. But this was purposeful and Hoyer meant to imply that Steele was a slave to the Republican Party.

It goes without saying that if such a comment was made by the No. 2 Republican in the House about, say, Barack Obama, the mainstream media would have a field day—and rightly so.

Thus, once again, it became very clear last week that the mainstream media are more than happy to trump up charges of racism, even conjure them up out of thin air, so long as it’s a help to their Democratic friends. But worse, much worse, we also saw that the mainstream media will ignore real racism against Republicans for the same cause. And yet, members of the mainstream media have the chutzpah to wonder why people are going elsewhere to get their news.

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Mr. Tinti blogs at The Political Pit Bull.

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