False claims go unchallenged, racial fears are stoked--and political scientists discover it helps GOP at polls
By Matthew W. Hughey and Gregory S. Parks
For example, in July of 2008 Glenn Beck engaged in a pithy race-based fear-mongering remark on his Fox News show. He stated that Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” and that Obama “is, I believe, a racist.” After other journalists and activists asked him to specify, rationalize, or retract his remarks, Rupert Murdoch defended Beck’s comment. In a November 2009 interview with Australia’s Sky News, Murdoch said,
Seizing upon this fear, Fox News and right-wing commentators anointed themselves as the real civil rights activists of today’s “anti-white” era. Glenn Beck stated that his Restoring Honor rally was to “reclaim the civil rights movement.” So also, in 2007, Michael Savage stated,
By stoking racial fears and framing themselves as the true heirs of the Civil Rights Movement, conservative commentators can effectively advance a pro-white agenda that seeks to roll back some of the progressive gains toward equality of the past half-century while mystifying any such overt claim or color-conscious agenda.
These examples illustrate that the white-as-victim narrative both is widely shared and carries resonance across the right-wing media airwaves. Indeed, the story of white victimization is, in our supposedly “post-racial era,” a dominant feature of the media’s obsession with race. The right-wing media calls out to its viewers to identify as racialized white victims. And in competing for audience viewership, networks like Fox attract white viewership by telling them they deserve both social sympathy and a (white) badge of courage for the battle wounds they have received for simply being white.
Obama was also characterized as a racial hypocrite who would exacerbate racial tensions due to his unfair bias toward blacks. In July 2010 Fox Business News’ America’s Nightly Scoreboard host David Asman stated that Obama “is defending racists in . . . letting the Black Panthers off.” Conservative radio host, author, and political commentator Laura Ingraham stated in July 2010 on The O’Reilly Factor that “I believe much of what’s been done in this administration unfortunately has set back race relations in this country, perhaps a generation. I predicted that would happen a year ago on my radio show. And I stand by that today.”