Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fox faux pas (latest in a series)

The folks at fairly imbalanced Fox News have long had a strange and malign preoccupation with matters of race in America. For years now, the rants of mushwit pit-bull right-wing mouthpieces Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity have characterized the Fox news style of reporting on various national affairs vis-à-vis race and ethnicity: smug, intemperate, monochromatic, and often flat-out racist.

“Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade is the latest to swing for the fences at Idiots’ Stadium. On July 8, when mentioning the results of a study on marriage that was conducted in Sweden and Finland, Kilmeade said that “(Americans) keep marrying other species and ethnics ... The problem is the Swedes have pure genes. They marry other Swedes, that’s the rule. Finns marry other Finns; they have a pure society. In America we marry everybody. We will marry Italians and Irish.”

His co-hosts — Gretchen Carlson and Dave Briggs — were dumbfounded. Watch this mess unfold:

It doesn’t make sense (not that much at Fox News ever does); it’s not even consistent; this is the same Brian Kilmeade who walked off the Fox and Friends” set in March, when he clashed with his co-hosts over some spirited Obama bashing Kilmeade took issue with. Will the real Brian Kilmeade please stand up?

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Kilmeade’s comments never mentioned race specifically, but that was the undeniable takeaway in the blogosphere and the media generally. The group UNITY: Journalists of Color is calling for an apology from Fox News for his statements. The multiracial journalists coalition launched an online petition calling for a formal apology and a willingness to “enter into a serious discussion [on “Fox and Friends”] regarding intermarriage and the value of diversity in our society.”

“Mr. Kilmeade's outlandish comments were more than silly and worthy of ridicule,” reads the UNITY petition. “They validate, under the guise of light-hearted humor, the basest of white supremacist ideologies, the notion that white people and non-white people are of different species, with the white race as ‘pure.’”

This follows the recent initiative by News Corporation, Fox News’ parent, to create a diversity council in the wake of protests over the recent New York Post cartoon, a scribble that appeared to characterize President Obama as a monkey shot to death on the street by a police officer.

Guaranteed, some in Fox News/News Corp management will act chastened and apologize, soberly saying Kilmeade’s outburst hampers Fox News’ drive for credibility. But the throughline of intolerance that runs through the on-air commentaries of O’Reilly, Hannity, Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto shows a news organization that’s willingly off the rails, no friend to anything approaching objectivity, and one of the more reliably reactionary, unbalanced newsgathering entities in the world.

Drive for credibility? Muddy Waters said it years ago: You can’t lose what you never had.
Image credit: Kilmeade: FoxNews.com bio page. New York Post cartoon: © 2009 New York Post.

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