When the L.A. Times runs a story on a missing black woman on the front page of its local features section it stimulates inquiring minds. How, in the super-charged climate of breathless cable news reports on Jaycee and her white sisterhood, could such a feat of journalistic subversion be possible? According to a story in the Sunday edition, 24 year-old Mitrice Richardson, an African American woman from South Los Angeles, went missing in mid-September after being released from a Calabasas, California jail.
Richardson had been arrested for apparently refusing to pay the tab for a meal she ate at a Malibu restaurant. Prior to the arrest, restaurant personnel and witnesses reported that she was behaving erratically and gave the appearance of being mentally ill. After authorities found marijuana in her car they arrested her on charges of “defrauding an innkeeper” and possession.
The Times chronicled the massive search made for Richardson this weekend by friends, relatives and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The story was also picked up by local news and has outraged many African Americans in Los Angeles. Questions swirl around the County Sheriff’s conduct in both the arrest and release of Richardson. Why, for example, was she not placed on a 72 hour psychiatric hold (a common practice when dealing with mentally ill “suspects”) when detained? And why, after being released from jail was she sent off into the dead of night in a remote area without a cell phone or vehicle?
Families of missing and abducted people of color organize tirelessly to generate any shred of coverage they can get from the media in “post-racial” America. Tired of the media’s ritual indifference to the lives of black women in their community, the mothers of missing women in Edgecombe County in North Carolina launched a billboard campaign to advertise a slew of suspected abductions in their area. So what distinguishes Richardson’s case from that of the scores of other missing and abducted people of color which seldom score even a few lines buried in a big city newspaper? Location is apparently the only factor that would warrant such an aberration.
The Malibu sightings of Richardson were evidently so jarring for residents that they elicited instant recollection from those reported to have seen her. Unlike other missing person cases tainted by the urban “grit” of South L.A. and other communities of color where crime is perceived to be the cultural norm, the crime free veneer of an almost exclusively white community in which “it’s strange to see a black woman walking in the (Malibu) canyon,” is the subtext. Location, race and gender play a pivotal role in the media’s fixation on missing person stories.
In the national “victim-ocracy”, small town, suburban and/or university affiliated white women get the most play as valued human interest subjects and cultural possessions. The endless media loop of search parties, dragged lakes, crack of dawn patrols and tearful living room pleas from grieving family members only lodge in the public imagination as national pathos when “our” little hometown girls are at stake. As exceptions to the rule, Richardson’s case—coupled with the more prominent example of slain Vietnamese-American Yale University student Annie Le—illustrates the extent to which location can obscure the regime of white privilege and entitlement that frames the stories and lives deemed most valuable by the mainstream media.
Centered in a bastion of Ivy League power and privilege nestled uneasily in the racially segregated city of New Haven, the Le case garnered national attention in spite of Le’s ethnic background. As a member of the academic elite, Le represented a student body potentially imperiled by the urban dangers of crime-ridden housing “projects” and other undesirable areas. And as with any good colonialist private university regime (e.g., the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California) hellbent on takeover of the “ghetto” these untamed areas naturally sully a city’s cosmopolitan aspirations. Once it was discovered that Le was murdered by a white insider, and not an encroaching racial other, the tabloid cable news mafia modulated its budding hysteria and moved on.
Clearly the racist “model minority” myth and the promotion of the docile assimilable Asian stereotype make Asian Americans more palatable to mainstream white society than African Americans. Le and Richardson’s backgrounds are dissimilar save for their being young women of color. Yet take away Le’s Yale pedigree and they would be “united” as victims of the mainstream media’s hierarchy of the disposable. For it is utterly certain that the mainstream media would not have deviated from its nationally sanctioned script of victimized white women if either Le or Richardson had gone missing in South L.A. or the “gritty” streets of New Haven.
Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of blackfemlens.org and a commentator for Some of Us Are Brave, KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles.
Our campaign to hold Glenn Beck accountable for his race-baiting and fear-mongering has been a great success, with 62 advertisers making it clear that they don't want their brands linked to Beck's vile rhetoric. Up until now, however, there's been a question of what the real consequences are for Beck and for Fox, especially as Beck's ratings have soared. It's starting to become clear.
Today, we're announcing that Glenn Beck's show has lost over 50% of its advertising dollars since just before our campaign started. From our press release about the news:
The advertising boycott of Glenn Beck has cost the controversial host over half of his estimated advertising revenue since it was launched by ColorOfChange.org a month ago. This according to data analyzed from industry sources.
Estimated advertising revenue [the total amount of advertising money being spent during a block of commercial time for a program] was collected on a week-by-week basis for a period of two months. According to the data collected, the amount of money spent by national advertisers on Beck's program per week was at its highest at approximately $1,060,000, for the week ending August 2, 2009. ColorOfChange.org launched their campaign at the end of that week and since then, 62 advertisers have distanced themselves from Beck. Data collected for the week ending September 6, 2009 shows Beck's estimated ad revenue at $492,000, equal to a loss of $568,000.
"Fox News Channel has consistently claimed they haven't lost revenue as advertisers abandon Glenn Beck, but the numbers prove otherwise," said James Rucker, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. "Fox News Channel has a limited amount of ad positions. If 62 companies refuse to run ads on two of their 24 hours of programming, they are losing inventory. No matter how high Beck's ratings have been lately, advertisers still see Beck as toxic and don't want him associated with their brands. There is no way that Fox News Channel is making the money they should be making with Glenn Beck."
Our campaign is working. Respectable companies don't want to be associated with Beck or support his show with their dollars. It's resulting in a major loss of funding for his show, and at the same time making it clear that Beck's race-baiting and fear-mongering are far outside the mainstream.
The longer Beck stays isolated, the more of a problem he'll be for Fox, and the less he'll be able to spread his lies and distortions. If we can keep the pressure on, Fox will have to make a choice: 1) drop Beck because it doesn't make business sense to keep him; or 2) communicate to the world that they're so intent on providing a platform for race-baiting and fear-mongering that they don't care if they lose money (a serious problem for a public company like News Corporation, the owner of Fox).
Thanks for everything you've done to make this effort a success -- none of it could have happened without the more than 200,000 of you who have stepped to be a part of this campaign. More than ever, it's time to keep the pressure on. You can help by joining us in thanking the advertisers that have stopped supporting Glenn Beck, and calling on those whose ads are still running on his show to follow suit.
I've been disappointed by white liberals and progressives' unwillingness and incompetence combating racism for 20 years. The inaction of large green groups Van Jones resignation is yet another example.
The NAACP, Equal Justice Society and Color of Change explicitly supported Van Jones before his resignation. On the white side, Treehugger, Grist and a few other small white organizations did. But the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, and NRDC, who together must represent more than $100 million of mostly liberal and progressive foundations, big donors, and individual contributors money, were MIA. These groups either took a dive because the attacks on Van were racist, or they incompetently let the right set the terms of debate before entering. Either way America deserves better greens.
Here's today's Color Line Question: Are there organized white liberals that can be trusted to maintain their commitment to their issue when the right attacks with racist wedges? I appreciate white fellow travelers, like Tim Wise, and small white anti-racist organizations like Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, on the racial justice path. But they seem to have no influence on larger white groups like the Sierra Club, NOW, Common Cause, MoveOn, and other staples of the white left. To be clear, I'm not discussing whether white groups will take on issues of people of color, as I'm setting the bar much lower--can organized white liberals keep their eye on THEIR prize when the right's racism comes a calling?
It's been easy for progressives to attack President Obama for not defending Van--but do they really expect Obama to be out in front of the white left? It seem hypocritical to attack the White House for being spineless without attacking NRDC, Sierra Club, EDF and Greenpeace for being spineless as well.
Let's remember--the most radical thing said by any national figure about racism in the recent past was Obama saying the white cop acted stupidly. The left certainly didn't counter the right's racist framing of Obama's articulation of a racist incident.
In addition to this situation, in my political lifetime people of color have been let down by white national liberal organizations on mid-1990s welfare deform by white feminist groups, on prop 8 by white gay groups who blamed Black voters for it's passage, by white communications organizations on any number of issues including California propositions 187 (anti-Affirmative Action) and 209 (anti-immigrant), and many other times. Although some examples are from a decade ago, I see no indication that white liberals are any better on racism now.
Although whites will be a minority by around 2050, America has to survive that long. If white progressives either can't or won't oppose racism, then we'll need a new set of white progressive funders and leaders to do something better. And if white liberals continue to be unable or unwilling to challenge the right's racist attacks then we are truly on the path to fascism.
If white liberals ultimately fail to oppose racism we have a bigger disaster on our hands than climate change, because America's commitment to white supremacy, if left unchallenged, will prevent us from dealing with the other important issues of the day, like climate change. As long as white liberals think these are parallel, rather than continuous tracks, they will continue to fail miserably.
And the world and it's humans of all races can't take too many more failures. Or, more accurately, the world and all it's races can't take many more white failures.
Big news today. We've confirmed that eight more major advertisers have pulled their support from Glenn Beck's show -- Wal-Mart, Best Buy, CVS, Travelocity, Allergan (maker of Restasis), Ally Bank, Broadview Security, and Re-Bath.
Overall, twenty advertisers have now ended their support of Beck. We're going to keep the pressure on Beck's remaining advertisers this week, and we'll let you know how you can help.
Details, including statements from these companies and links to media coverage, after the jump ...
Eight more Glenn Beck advertisers, including Wal-Mart -- the world's largest retailer -- have confirmed to ColorOfChange.org that they pulled their ads from the controversial Fox News Channel broadcaster's eponymous show. Allergan (maker of Restasis), Ally Bank (a unit of GMAC Financial Services), Best Buy, Broadview Security, CVS, Re-Bath, Travelocity and Wal-Mart join the dozen other companies who previously distanced themselves from Beck.
Twenty companies have pulled their ads from Beck's show in just the last two weeks. The moves come after the Fox News host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" during an appearance on Fox & Friends. Previous companies who pulled their ads include ConAgra, GEICO, Lawyers.com, Men's Wearhouse, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Roche, SC Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Sargento, and State Farm Insurance.
"We are heartened to see so many corporate citizens step up in support of our campaign against Glenn Beck," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. "Their action sends a clear a message to Glenn Beck: Broadcasters shouldn't abuse the privilege they enjoy by spewing dangerous and racially charged hate language over the air. No matter their political affiliation, hate language doesn't belong in our national dialogue."
"Walmart [sic] today confirmed the retailer pulled ads from the Glenn Beck show on August 3rd," said David Tovar, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, in an email to ColorOfChange.org.
"While advertising on Fox is part of our communication plan, we had not requested time on Glenn Beck's show specifically," said Carolyn Castel, Vice President of Corporate Communications for CVS Caremark, in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "We have instructed our advertising agency to inform Fox to ensure Glenn Beck's program is not part of our advertising plan."
"Our position is simple," Castel continued. "We support vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans, but we expect it to be informed, inclusive and respectful, in keeping with our company's core values and commitment to diversity."
In an email exchange with ColorOfChange.org, Lisa Svac Hawks, Director of Public Relations for Best Buy, stated that any advertisements for Best Buy that were placed on Glenn Beck's show were done so in error. Svac Hawks pledged that Best Buy will correct any mistakes made.
"We did not specifically place our ad on the show," said Amanda Borichevsky, a spokesperson for Travelocity in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "We buy ads in bulk and then they are placed somewhat randomly. However, we have now specifically asked that our ads do not appear during this show."
"We reviewed our commercial schedule, and based on your feedback, we've put any programming featuring Glenn Beck on our "do not air" list," said Aziz Mottiwala, Senior Marketing Manager for Allergan, in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "This means that you will no longer see any Restasis ads during programming featuring Glenn Beck. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention."
"Ally advertises on a broad spectrum of programs to reach our potential customers," said a Customer Care Representative for Ally Bank. "Our advertising is not an endorsement of editorial content on any program. We have ceased to advertise on the Glenn Beck program."
In a phone conversation with Dwayne Sigler, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Broadview Security Systems, Sigler told ColorOfChange.org that Broadview's advertising is bought based on network, not particular programs, but that "given the considerations, we have requested of Fox News not to include us in the rotation that would have our commercials running on Glenn Beck's show."
"...We are no longer airing our commercials on the Glenn Beck Show..." said Mary Beth Mayer, spokesperson for Re-Bath, in a phone message to ColorOfChange.org.
As the list of advertisers who don't want themselves associated with Beck continues to grow, our campaign is also getting major media attention, which helps send a strong message to Fox and to Beck's remaining advertisers. Last week, our campaign was mentioned in several media and advertising industry publications, on MSNBC, in the New York Times, and by Stephen Colbert.
Thanks to everyone who has stepped up and joined this campaign (there are more than 145,000 of you now) -- this wouldn't be possible without your voice. What we've achieved so far is incredible -- it's rare for a campaign directed at a TV show's advertisers to be this successful.
But we won't stop here. We're going to continue reaching out to Beck's remaining advertisers, and we'll keep you informed on how you can help us escalate the pressure.
Have so many blue-chip advertisers ever fled a program as quickly as the who's who of corporate America that's sprinted away from Glenn Beck in recent weeks? I certainly cannot recall ever seeing a mass exodus of this scale.
The A-list collection of disgruntled Beck advertisers is staggering: Applebee's, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Campbell Soup, Clorox, ConAgra, CVS, Ditech, Farmers Insurance Group, GEICO, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Lowe's, Nutrisystem, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, RadioShack, Sprint, State Farm Insurance, The UPS Store, Travelers Insurance, Verizon Wireless, Vonage, and Wal-Mart, among others.
If any television program had lost just three or four of those types of high-caliber advertisers, it would be seen as an extraordinary move in a media environment in which grassroots attempts to pressure advertisers have traditionally yielded modest returns. But at Fox News, Glenn Beck is rewriting television history right before our eyes: four dozen lost advertisers and counting. All of Beck's big-time advertisers have fled. All of them.
As momentum continues to gather behind the unprecedented boycott effort led by ColorofChange.org, Beck and Fox News executives seem to be flailing around as they frantically search for a way to stop the exodus.
Despite media reports to the contrary, Fox News executives explicitly refused to distance themselves from Beck's claim that President Obama is a "racist," let alone reprimand the host for the shockingly hateful comments. Fox News' initial knee-jerk response of failing to question any of the gutter rhetoric Beck dishes out, and the cable news giant's decision to treat the transgression as a nonstory unworthy of a serious response, of course, is what led to the boycott drive.
The fact that nobody anywhere inside Fox News had enough sense to hold Beck accountable or to even suggest that calling the president of the United States (aka "this guy") a "racist" on national television was well outside the bounds of professional broadcasting -- the fact that Fox News could not even for a moment publicly contemplate that Beck had stepped over a glaringly obvious line of common decency -- is why those same executives have been forced to watch as an avalanche of A-list advertisers go public with their plans to make sure they are no longer associated with Beck.
Looking back, it's hard to imagine how executives at Fox News could have handled Beck's "racist" smear any worse. And it's hard to imagine how Fox News could have inadvertently cultivated the ground any better for a sweepingly successful advertising boycott than the cavalier way they dealt with Beck's presidential race-baiting.
And if you don't think the snowballing ad boycott has left Fox News suits stunned and knocked back on their heels, then I don't think you understand the kind of arrogance that runs through the water supply over at its Manhattan headquarters on Sixth Avenue. Execs there this year no doubt have been congratulating themselves on their ratings success and patting each other on the back for having the brilliant insight to unleash a hatemonger like Glenn Beck on the airwaves.
But suddenly, uh-oh, there's a price to be paid for peddling hate? And worse, it's a free-market penalty where blue-chip advertisers -- those bastions of corporate America that Fox News idolizes -- are deciding for themselves that they cannot afford to be associated with Fox News' wonder boy? Corporate America is turning its back on the new face of Fox News?
If the boycott continues to gain momentum, Fox News won't be able to avoid writing down losses. Yes, the cabler claims it hasn't lost any money yet because nervous advertisers simply want off Glenn Beck, not off Fox News (i.e. advertisers are still spending money with the network). But the truth is, since Beck called Obama a racist, Beck's advertising base has been cut by 50 willing advertisers, and Fox News' need to find advertisers for the hour-long weekday show has not changed. And I'm guessing it's not having much luck drumming up new Glenn Beck business in this environment.
Honestly, if advertisers continue to abandon Glenn Beck, pretty soon the show's going to be forced to run more than the occasional free public-service announcement. Either that, or the advertisers willing to stick around are going to get some great deals or maybe even some free spots in order to make sure Fox News can fill the inventory.
Meanwhile, on air, the latest Fox News strategy for dealing with the never-ending "racist" controversy seems to revolve around amnesia. Seriously. It's like everyone at Fox News has been flashed by that light stick Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith used in Men in Black to erase the memories of unsuspecting UFO eyewitnesses. Suddenly at Fox News, nobody remembers that Beck called Obama a racist. Nobody remembers that that's what sparked the advertising boycott.
Despite the swirling controversy, and despite the fact that Beck is losing the type of advertisers that sales teams covet, the host's "racist" smear has become The Story That Cannot Be Mentioned By Name.
It's true. Last week, Beck appeared on Bill O'Reilly's show, and the two men bemoaned the attempts by nasty liberal "loons" to shut Beck up -- to snatch away his freedom of speech. What was odd was that while Beck and O'Reilly clearly made (indirect) references to the ad boycott campaign, they never explained to viewers what sparked the outrage. They never explained why. They never conceded the campaign was launched in direct response to the fact that Beck went on national television and called the president of the United States a "racist" and someone who flashed a "deep-seated hatred of white people."
At Fox News, that smear has been flushed down the memory hole, and all that's left to do is play victim. (Incredibly, O'Reilly and Beck appeared to be cribbing their amnesia shtick off The American Spectator. Never a good sign.)
But here's what I don't get: Why doesn't Beck go on TV every day and simply defend his "racist" claim? Why doesn't Beck stand up for the racist remark and stake his reputation on it? Because right now, the pathetic, squishy approach he's taking where he limply lashes back while pretending the ad boycott sprang from some mysterious place -- where Beck plays the victim and pretends he never made the "racist" smear -- is just too lame for words.
The host has never apologized, so it seems logical that he stands behind the claim. (And that's what he claimed one month ago.) And if he stands behind it, why doesn't he set aside a few minutes on each program to detail how Obama is a racist? Why doesn't he educate his viewers? In fact, I'm sure even folks who don't regularly tune into Beck would be fascinated to know how Obama, whose mother was white and who was raised by his white grandparents, suffers from an abiding hatred of white people and "white culture," as Beck claimed.
Hey, maybe if Beck does a good enough job, he'll even win back some of his lost advertisers. Maybe by talking the "racist" issue to death on Fox News every day, Beck can clear the air and the boycott will cease.
It's conceivable but unlikely. What's really going on here, of course, is that Beck has stepped so far in it with his "racist" crack that he can no longer see the tops of his shoes, and even his shins are starting to sink into the muck. The answer to Fox News' unraveling advertising problem is obvious. But neither Beck nor anybody else at the network has the decency to apologize, so they've decided to stitch together this fantasy about how the ad boycott was started because Beck said some nasty things about a ColorofChange.org ally, Van Jones.
Good luck with that. I'm sure that by playing dumb about the "racist" controversy, and by ignoring the comment while wallowing in a permanent state of victimhood, former blue-chip advertisers will soon come sprinting back onto Beck's show.
Ever heard (or uttered) the trite expression, "Don't hate the player; hate the game"? Well, in this instance, the player is grand wizard Jim Quinn and the game is media consolidation.
So, if you're feathers are the least bit ruffled over Jim Quinn's racism, you'll know that whatever you're top issue is, your second issue must be media justice.
Afro-Netizen supports boycotting Clear Channel and other serial offenders. But the roots of these democracy-strangling weeds must be yanked from their deeply burrowed home on Capitol Hill that are left untouched by bipartisan complacency and self-preservation.
If we express righteous indignation about the Iranian government's crackdown on its citizens, journalists and media outlets, then we should have a much better understanding of the paucity of media democracy that exists on a practical, government-sanctioned level in our own country.
Funny how he refers to her selection as an "affirmative action pick" -- as if that was an objectively bad thing. The connotation, of course, is that individuals who benefited from affirmative action were not qualified for the opportunities they received.
According to poll results released today, the majority of American voters are not in favor of affirmative action on the basis of race or gender.
In an article on this poll, Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, stated that "the public clearly opposes the idea that such programs are justified
as a way of increasing diversity, which has become the rationale in
recent years as opposed to compensating for past discrimination which
was the reason when they first began."
Mr. Brown, of course, is factually wrong. Nowhere in either executive orders laying the groundwork for affirmative action mentions these policies in the context of past discrimination. And on a more common sense basis, one doesn't need to be a historian to know that in 1961, when the first executive order was signed by President John F. Kennedy, that current discrimination was what kept (over)qualified people of color and white women from even entry-level positions in corporate and government jobs -- let alone admission to college or graduate school.
And if indeed past discrimination were in fact the basis of affirmative action policy, wouldn't it stand to reason that the only thing that would make this controversial public policy obsolete the comprehensive and proportional representation of people of color and white women in previously white and/or male-dominated spheres (i.e., "increasing diversity")?
If that were the case, affirmative action can be expected to be around a looooooooong time!
Actor Jeffrey Wright reads Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" from the Walt Whitman Houses Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, on Open Book, a new weekly television series created and hosted by Ina Howard Parker.
Open Book, created, produced and hosted by Ina Howard-Parker, premiered May 11th at 8:30pm EST and May 13th at 11:30pm EST, nationally on LinkTV (DirectTV ch. 375, Dish Network ch. 9410, and cable channels nationally. Click here to find where Link broadcasts on your dial.
Open Book is a new show about books, focusing on a single spot on Earth in each episode to introduce you to the writers and other storytellers-- musicians, actors, poets and more-- whose work reminds us we're all connected through the stories we have to tell and the communities we inhabit.
In the premiere episode, we visit Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, a neighborhood with a rich cultural heritage, to meet some of the writers and artists who live there including former child soldier Ishmael Beah, award-winning novelist Jennifer Egan, legendary jazz musician Bill Lee, Walt Whitman devotee Daryl Blaine Ford, creative genius Carl Hancock Rux, Def Jam poet Suheir Hammad, singer Nucomme, and star of stage and screen, actor Jeffrey Wright.