September 15th, 2017

Last year Colin Kaepernick revived a movement begun by Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968. Not only did Kaepernick and those who took up his cause survive the American football season, but recent events like the takedown of Michael Bennett in Las Vegas have fueled the movement and athletes have carried their silent protest forward. White folk are getting nervous over at Fox News.

Ameer Hasan Loggins, writing in Why Fox doesn’t want Americans to see NFL players protesting about race for The Guardian, explains:

Did you notice that during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins firmly raised his fist, as a symbolic gesture of black opposition to various forms of systemic oppression? No? Did you see Rodney McLeod and Chris Long alongside Jenkins in solidarity with the cause in which he is standing for? No? You are not alone. Viewers at home did not see any of this—not by accident, but by design.

Fox kept the cameras off of the players, blacking out their protest against racial injustice. While Fox screened an interview before the game with a black player—Michael Bennett—about why he was protesting, the fact that the network hid the actual protest irked many NFL fans.

I understand that we are talking about the same Fox network, whose earliest successes came via shows like America’s Most Wanted and Cops. Programs that served not only as cheap forms of first generation Reality TV, but they also were highly effective at spreading uncritical narratives of the police as being heroic public servants, that viewers could watch on a weekly basis, cemented as dependable good guys always catching the deviant bad guys.

The Fox News scheme did not spring fully formed from some strategy meeting. Loggins traces the history through the career of the man who shaped Fox—Roger Ailes:

Before his time shaping Fox News as its CEO, Rodger Ailes was a media consultant/political strategist for Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign. We are talking about the same Richard Nixon campaign that saw the, “antiwar left and black people,” as his “enemies.”

According to former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, a part of Nixon’s political strategy was to publicly “associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”

Ehrlichman continued by saying, “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Holding to the maxim—If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—Ailes took what he had learned and helped to get Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush take the White House.

During his time working with George H W Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, Roger Ailes was the architect behind the attack ad known as the “Revolving Door”, in which the Bush campaign played on historically entrenched stereotypes surrounding black men as the hyper aggressive, libidinally driven, criminals via William “Willie” Horton, a convicted rapist.

While the commercial shows various men walking in and out of prison, implying that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of not being tough on crime, the goal was to associate Dukakis with Horton, a criminal, leaving Bush’s campaign manager Lee Atwater saying: “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate.”

It worked.

Ailes is with pal Jerry Falwell now, but his legacy continues.

Fox News: biased and repetitive, they decide

Stephen Crockett, writing in To All the Black Men Watching the NFL, Here’s What Philadelphia Eagles Owner Thinks About Colin Kaepernick for The Root, has a few words to add.

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