Fox News Not Interested in Ferguson

Fox Not NewsI just got to spend about a half hour watching Anderson Cooper, Chris Hayes, and Bill O’Reilly. Actually, only Chris Hayes was on his show. It was that old white guy on CNN and one of the blond women on Fox News. But it was striking. I don’t mean the tone of the shows; I mean the content. Not surprisingly, MSNBC is doing blanket coverage of Ferguson, where things look almost celebratory now that law enforcement duties have been taken over by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. But CNN is doing the same thing, in their tired way.

So the liberal and centrist cable news networks are paying a lot of attention to the situation in Ferguson that has been getting international attention. But for Fox News, it is pretty much a non-story. Or rather, the murder of an unarmed teen was a non-story. The many peaceful protests was a non-story. Militarized police use of excessive force against protesters was a non-story. Pretty much everything about Ferguson was a non-story except for some looting that took place Sunday evening.

This is an interesting contrast with the Bundy ranch crisis where the story got blanket, hysterical coverage. But it also got pretty much blanket coverage on the other two stations. What I think we are seeing is that if a story can’t be molded to a conservative narrative, Fox News just isn’t interested. I’m sure that in their story meetings, executive producers have said, “Unless there are a bunch of black people breaking windows, none of our viewers will care!” And maybe they are right, but it seems to me that the basic narrative is of wide interest: police shooting a young man about to enter college when he had his hands raised above him.

It would have been different if it had been a white suburban boy killed by a black officer in a police force that was over 90% black with a history of harassing whites. Then they could rant about “black anger” and the “out of control” government, but also regular things like actual news sources are discussing about the Michael Brown murder. When it comes to a black or brown skinned person, however, it just isn’t interesting to Fox News. Their key demographic—The median age is 68 years old!—might be upset to hear any news that conflicted with their belief that racism was solved in 1865.

So what was Fox News offering up instead of details about the Michael Brown murder and the situation in Ferguson? Well, they had a sequence about the supposed fight that’s going on between Obama and Clinton. And there was speculation about Robin Williams. And I’m sure they had a segment on Ferguson earlier on; I didn’t get to a television until a bit into the hour. I mean, Fox News can’t be that bad. Well, maybe it can.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

3 thoughts on “Fox News Not Interested in Ferguson

  1. Here’s a question. Can you imagine a case of racism so blatant, so horrid, that it would actually strike conservatives as racist? That media coverage of it wouldn’t strike them as reverse racism?

    Oh, I can. The foul L.A. Clippers owner being angry that his arm candy was chatting with celebrity Magic Johnson.

    That, to conservatives, is racism; somebody insulting a rich, famous, non-politically-outspoken black man because of race. (An incident which did not harm Johnson in the slightest.)

    If racism happens to poor black Americans, they deserve it (the poor deserve whatever they get.) If it happens to a well-known, not-poor black American political intellectual like Henry Gates, well, he should have been less cranky about the whole thing. (Keep in mind that what the cop did to Gates was far more insulting and demeaning than what a jerk team owner, whom everybody involved with the NBA knows is a scabrous asshole, did to Johnson.)

    And if people at Koch-funded rallies scream the most bilious racist filth at Obama — well, he deserves it for being such a radical liberal.

    Really, aside from a jerk whom nobody takes seriously insulting a rich retired NBA celebrity, I can’t imagine a scenario so awful conservatives would actually say, "yep, this is racism."

    (Oh, I can; liberals criticizing black American politicians. That’s your racism right there.)

  2. @JMF – Interesting take on the whole thing. It does seem to me that the reason conservatives want to apologize for "Let me tell you about the negro," is that they realize it points to the fact that if one old man [i]says[/i] it [i]on camera[/i] than a whole bunch of people are saying it in private and lots more are thinking it. And that goes against their whole idea that there is no real racism in America. (Again: not that this is how racism hurts us politically.)

    I think the reason they were fine with calling Donald Sterling out was that he was a special case. As you said, everyone knew he was "a scabrous asshole."

    But to me, the Gates thing is what really points out the racism in our country. I just don’t see this happening to a white college professor–ever. Because just as we have a stereotype of the young black hoodlum, we have the stereotype of the educated black man who needs to get a lesson in his real place in society. And Obama’s handling of that was terrible. I think that’s when all the Republicans looked at each other and thought, "This guy is pushover; we can do anything we want!" And they did.

  3. From the sheerly spin-doctor point of view, you can understand what the Obama people were thinking with the Gates incident. "He’s a critic of American historical actions, we shouldn’t come across as supporting what he says." Or their reaction to the teenage Martin’s murder. Or what’s happening now. You can’t let Democrats be spun by the right as a party that cares about Black people; we’ve got elections to win, after all.

    Some part of me thinks the Dems should be willing to lose these fights, though; like I think they should have gone to the wall for the "public option" in the ACA debates and lost if they must; put the GOP on record as opposing something that has strong public support. Obama’s legacy of wishy-washy on race may benefit in the short term; I suspect it hurts in the long run, because it shifts the nationally accepted framework of debate rightward. As you’ve mentioned, as the writers you cite mention constantly.

    It’s not like if you shoo aside racism and inequality and corporate abuse of customers requiring basic services (like health care) these issues will just go away. They’re going to be there for us to agonize over for the next election cycle and the one after that and so on. At some point the Dems, the left, have to face these issues head on. Or we’re going to find that these issues have been faced for us by those much less frightened of acknowledging them, and acknowledging them in the worst, most harmful way.

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