Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wallace's Foxy Moves

Fox's Chris Wallace Criticizes Own Network For "Two Hours Of Obama Bashing" - The Huffington Post

I don't normally pull items from the Huff as it's not one of the blogs I regularly read. But this morning's take on Chris Wallace's defense of objectivity in the media during an on-air broadcast deserves some attention. While Wallace isn't exactly a paragon of objectivity himself, he does at least believe in the idea of objective news. That much is obvious when, after those two hours of Obama bashing, Wallace felt compelled to call into the show and grill the hosts on their treatment of the subject. Not only did Wallace note the excessive length of focus on a single phrase in Obama's Tuesday speech on race, he argued that the quote was left without context the entire time. He goes on to point out that there are other important topics in the news in general and in the Obama campaign specifically.
After Wallace's call, Brian Kilmeade continued in the same vein as Wallace until he became so frustrated with his fellow commentators that he walked off the set on air. Later, Wallace called into Kilmeade's radio show and discussed the events, saying that such action was needed to call attention to the editorial decision that lead to those two Obama-bashing hours.
What moments like this show is that there are news networks out there that allow editorial fiat too great an influence on what news is presented and how it is presented. The same goes for a newspaper like the New York Times with their publication of a story on Sen. McCain alluding to corruption and an affair without actually bringing the goods in the story. That was an editorial decision and the editors, or producers in the case of Fox News, should have known better. Otherwise, the leanings and biases of the editors and producers overshadow the actual news.
Another point I want to make is that the phrase the Fox commentators were harping on--"typcial white people"--was quite ironic since they were acting like typical white people. There's this stance in white culture that white people aren't racist when, in fact, everyone is a racist in some form. Bigotry is the most vile form of it, but race and racism does define who we are in a lot of ways. It sets limits on what kind of cultural attitudes we take, the perspectives we use and the ways we treat those of other races. Race will no more disappear than gender will, but the way we talk about it and the way we treat it in our daily lives can change. Just as gender equality is a worthy cause so is race equality. But when the typical white person refuses to acknowledge that, yes indeed, they are racist in a way, the dialogue can go nowhere. Sen. Obama gave us as Americans an opening to talk about race, but so far all we have heard is the same old tropes coming from white mouths that are desperately seeking to shove race back in the box they thought was long forgotten. We need to not act like typical white people just as blacks need not to act like typical black people. The dialogue can change, we just have to make the next move ourselves.

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