You may be aware that the Democratic presidential candidates are slated to debate in September on the Fox News network. Though it's barely registered in the media, all but two of the eight contenders have declared their intention to boycott the event. John Edwards led this band of renegades in their revolt. Having already refused several interviews on Fox this year-way before it was the cool thing to do-Edwards was, and still is, the only candidate to state his reasons for bowing out of the autumnal festivities, unapologetically describing Fox as not only not 'fair and balanced' but as openly favoring Republicans.
But the big hullabaloo isn't solely about Fox hosting the debate, which, by itself, should raise the hackles of any person with even a partially functioning frontal lobe. No, the latest screw-the-public-without-kissing-'em-first disgrace coming from stage left is that this debate was brokered between Fox and the Congressional Black Caucus, an organization of 43 elected and very powerful Democratic black leaders who collectively claim to be 'the conscience of the Congress.' The Caucus describes its goals as 'positively influencing the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and others of similar experience and situation' and 'achieving greater equity for persons of African descent in the design and content of domestic and international programs and services.'
This collaboration with Fox is a particularly harsh smack in the face to black America, which the CBC claims to represent.
Fox, at best, has demonstrated a bias against black Americans (and minorities in general). In a recent article at the Black Agenda Report (www.blackagendareport.com), chief congressional correspondent Leutisha Stills characterizes the cuddly relationship between Fox and the CBC this way: 'The FOX-CBC deal reveals the groveling mentality of a Black misleadership class that watches African Americans get their asses kicked every day of the year by Rupert Murdoch and the entirety of corporate media, and then rewards the worst perpetrator because he sent (cheap) flowers to the hospital room.'
The New York Times, one of the few media outlets that covered this heartwarming alliance, reported on May 27 that the CBC had sought 'a television outlet to co-sponsor and broadcast a presidential debate to address the concerns of minority voters.' According to the Times, the four-year-long search yielded just one 'acceptable proposal.' I have no idea what the hell that means. But given that News Corporation, Fox's parent company, donated $1,000 each to a few members of the CBC, and given that it created an internship program at a historically black college in the district of one of the caucus members, I don't think it's a stretch to say that 'acceptable proposal' to the CBC is defined as a little loose change from between the sofa cushions in return for some long-term memory lapses.
To be honest, I could shrug it off and simply tell the groping couple to get a room were Rupert Murdoch actually giving the CBC and every black citizen of this country their 40 acres and a mule in exchange for a turn of the cheek. But pocket change and journalism training by Fox are a shameful pittance for the kind of forgiveness being so generously doled out by today's black 'leaders.' Them there's some silk flowers, if you ask me.
This Fox/CBC alliance is a clever checkmate by News Corp. Murdock and Co. toss a few stale biscuits in the direction of black leaders and receive absolution for past (and current) offenses. It's a veritable win-win for Fox: If the Dems show up, the network can run a ticker of lies while pundits spin the tale; if they don't, then, obviously, they're cowards who can't deal with terrorists. Roger Ailes, chairman of Fox News, declined to comment for the Times story, but a later report by The New York Observer caught his tongue wagging. During an award ceremony on June 5, he offered this fair and balanced assessment of the boycott: 'The candidates that can't face Fox can't face Al Qaeda. And that's what's coming.'
This is hardly shocking coming from the Fox we all know and disdain; it's the same tired Stepford wife with a few extra rounds of Botox in her face. Not a single television network has been more transparently steeped in right-wing propaganda and outright hate speech than Fox News. The real eye-opener here is the betrayal of black America by the CBC. They've Uncle Tommed themselves by joining forces with a 'news' outlet historically hostile to blacks and, in so doing, are legitimizing the organization known for presenting opinion as fact, for spinning and twisting and ignoring truth until its made-up conservative misinformation becomes part of American water-cooler vernacular.
As of press time, only two Democratic presidential contenders plan to validate Fox as an authentic news organization-Joseph Biden and Dennis Kucinich. (Ét tu, Dennis? Ét tu?) They're set to arrive in Detroit for a tumbleweedy tête-à-tête, an event sure to be a spectacle of the cowardly-terrorist-lovers-didn't-show variety. The folks over at Colorofchange.org are demanding the CBC cut its ties to Fox, which, according to their online petition, has 'consistently attacked Black people, Black leaders, and Black cultural institutions.' Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our Democratic members of Congress hold tails between their legs and saliva-dipped index fingers in the air to determine again which way the ever-fouled wind is blowing.
Though they all belong to the huge corporate-media cabal, there are plenty of news networks with better track records than Fox. Members of the increasingly inconsequential CBC would be wise to bone up on the integrity manual and diligently pursue a genuinely acceptable proposal meaningful to black citizens. If they don't, if they choose to remain tied to News Corp., they will be entrusting a very sly Fox to guard an increasingly vulnerable henhouse. It would seem we're destined for business-as-usual in the coming months, and boycott or no, none of us should be surprised when progressives and minorities lose yet again.