Accuracy in Media

Stung by the reaction to his baseless charges of racism against the Tea Party movement, MSNBC-TV host Keith Olbermann did something he rarely does-he cited on the air some of the criticism of his remarks, including from my column carried by, GOPUSA and other Internet sites. He did this without labeling his critics as being among “the worst” people in the world. But he fell far short of coming clean about why he launched his smears. 

What’s more, he failed to retract the bogus charges and examine the many white faces that dominate-in fact, monopolize-the political talk shows on the network that employs him. 

To recap, Olbermann, a white liberal, claimed that the Tea Party movement was racist against black people. This racism accounts for Obama’s failures and declining popularity, he suggested. As proof, he cited racism that he said lurked in the souls of every white person, including his own. Racism is everywhere, Olbermann said, apparently seriously.

“I think,” the MSNBC host said, “having now been one [a white person] for 51 years, I am permitted to say I believe prejudice and discrimination still sit, defeated, dormant, or virulent, somewhere in the soul of each white man in this country.”

This tired race card approach to politics and current events would not normally require any response or comment. It could be dismissed for what it is, coming from a questionable source who deals in vile rhetoric.

But it is fascinating and worthy of comment because of what it says not only about Olbermann but the network which pays him so much to generate the high ratings that he wants but cannot get. According to Bill Carter of the New York Times, in January CNN surpassed MSNBC for the first time in six months in the ratings, and Fox has approximately triple the ratings of either CNN or MSNBC. So maybe this particular “Special Commentary” is an attempt to see who is paying attention and actually watching the show. We at AIM plead “guilty as charged,” at least in this special case. Please forgive us.   

Playing into Olbermann’s hands, one is tempted to tune in to the next program, if only to see whether Olbermann will take the dramatic next step of setting himself on fire in protest of something or other, real or imagined. What will happen next? Will he show up drunk? Will he turn up missing? Does anyone care?

Leading into a segment during the follow-up show, he said, “I wanted to give some equal time to those on the right who disagreed with the focus of Monday’s Special Comment that there is an alarming homogeneity at the so called Tea Party events, and that this is not some kind of demographic coincidence. In other words, they are almost all white people and this is in essence a white people’s party.”

He then showed quotes from Michelle Malkin’s blog, Hot Air, and from David Horowitz’s blog, NewsReal, responding to his comments from Monday night. Then he showed a screenshot of my column, carried on the website and said, “And lastly from the GOPUSA website.” He then quoted most of one line, which was that “The tired race card approach to politics and current events would not normally require any response or comment. It could be dismissed for what it is, coming from a questionable source who deals in vile rhetoric…”

At least he got the quote right, though he failed to acknowledge that the source of the column on the GOPUSA site was actually Accuracy in Media.

Following each of the three comments he cited, he said, “My response to this would be, where are the people of color at the tea parties?”

He then concluded with the following: “But this isn’t rhetoric, this isn’t invective. It’s not about education or ranting, and is not the playing of a card. It’s math. The question none of these defenders will touch because there is no answer to it, where are the people of color at the tea parties?”

Blind As A Bat

My column, in fact, did examine that issue. I cited and linked to two different YouTube videos of black men who proudly spoke at last September’s Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., and were very warmly received. How many blacks were in the audience? My colleague, Cliff Kincaid, who covered the protest and took pictures of it, saw some blacks in the crowd, although he didn’t count them.

It’s a safe guess that the number of blacks at the 9-12 demonstration was short of the black percentage of the general population. But what does that prove? Such a gap doesn’t prove that the people who did show up were racists, or that the theme of the protest was racist in nature. In fact, the theme was anti-Big Government. And to repeat-the organizers actually did pick blacks to be speakers.

By contrast, Olbermann and the other white faces on MSNBC-TV were deliberately picked by Jeff Zucker and the other suits that run the network. They did not pick one black face to host a political talk show. Olbermann’s response on the Daily Kos was that he has blacks on his show as guests. This is a variation of the “some of my best friends are black” routine. This kind of response is what adds to the perception among some conservatives that Olbermann just cannot be taken seriously. It also helps explain why his routines have become the subject of jokes on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show.” 

Assuming that he is serious, however, one can take a look at the home page of MSNBC-TV and find that it shows 10 white faces and no people of color who host or co-host their own shows on the network. To paraphrase Olbermann, “Where are the people of color on MSNBC-TV?”

Does that mean that the people who make those decisions at MSNBC are racist? Of course not. But based on the numbers and faces alone, there is certainly more evidence of racism on their part than on the part of the 9-12 organizers, who had no control over who came to Washington, D.C. but did pick blacks to speak to the crowd.

Speaking of the Daily Kos, its founder and publisher, Markos Moulitsas, was a guest on Olbermann’s show, talking about Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. Moulitsas referred to them four times as Teabaggers, a derogatory sexual reference that is used to demean the movement.

One has to conclude that people like Olbermann and Moulitsas are jealous and frustrated-that a spontaneous movement has arisen to counter and overwhelm the “progressive” base that helped elect Obama and was supposed to guarantee the passage and success of Obama’s policies.

Where are the “grass roots” supporters of the Obama agenda? They are dispirited and disappointed. Their “leaders,” such as they are, can be seen on a regular basis on Olbermann’s show, spewing invective against a true grassroots movement.

We are anxiously waiting for the day when Olbermann will resign his seat at the network and open up the position for a person of color. That way, he can actually do something about racism, instead of just talking about it.




By Cliff Kincaid

California Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chairman Ryan Sorba generated a media controversy when he was shown at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) denouncing the organizers for inviting a homosexual Republican group, GOProud, into the event as an official sponsor. In “controversial” remarks, Sorba said homosexuality was unnatural and that he welcomed more debate and discussion about the subject from his political adversaries.

But what many people didn’t realize-because most of the liberal and conservative media didn’t report it-is that Sorba’s “outburst” was provoked by a speaker who preceded him, Alexander McCobin of Students For Liberty (SFL). McCobin went out of his way to use valuable time from the podium to thank the American Conservative Union (ACU), the main CPAC organizer, for making the controversial decision to approve GOProud’s participation.

David Keene, a lobbyist, is the chairman of the ACU and personally approved GOProud’s involvement in CPAC.

Sorba told AIM, “I think CPAC went overboard this year. I don’t think he [Keene] should be sitting at the top of CPAC.” He noted that CPAC over the last several years has also allowed groups such as the ACLU to have exhibits at the event. “What’s next?” Sorba asked. “Are they going to have Republicans for Obamacare? Republicans for free abortions?”

Fake “Conservatives”

Incredibly, McCobin of SFL told me that his group “is not a conservative organization” and that “We spent this past weekend reaching out to the left and the right at both the Young Democrats of America’s convention and the Conservative Political Action Conference. We are not left or right.”

If they are not conservative, Sorba asked, “What are they doing at CPAC?” No stranger to controversy, Sorba is the author of the book, The Born Gay Hoax (this is a working draft) and was shouted down at Smith College by lesbian activists because of his support for traditional values.

Sorba said the negative reaction he got from some in the CPAC audience came from those in libertarian and pro-Ron Paul groups whose purpose is “to infiltrate the conservative movement and take it over from within.” He said that he received strong support after the event from traditional conservatives.  

Proving the point, McCobin’s SFL is based at the libertarian Cato Institute, which has a conservative view on federal spending issues but promotes a U.S. military withdrawal from much of the world and very liberal social views, such as legalization of marijuana and other drugs.

Soros Funds Cato

Adding to the controversy, the Cato Institute has been funded by the ultra-liberal billionaire George Soros, a major financial benefactor of many different “progressive” organizations. The Open Society Institute of Soros has put tens of thousands of dollars into Cato for such purposes as a “lecture series” on the dangers of a war on drugs, a project to prevent a national system of identification under the immigration laws, and a “Civil Liberties and Counterterrorism Initiative” that  protects the civil liberties and human rights of accused terrorists.

What’s more, GOProud isn’t a conservative group, either. Christopher R. Barron, chairman of GOProud, runs CapSouth Consulting, which works for “centrist Republicans” not conservatives.

So the issue isn’t just why GOProud was at CPAC but why Students For Liberty, an admittedly non-conservative group, was there and had a speaking role. 

“The media gave these clowns a lot of favorable coverage,” noted one traditional conservative activist who was upset by the drift of CPAC this year. “We have our work cut out for us, between the media and the libertarian student movement that supports sodomy. We are going to organize a huge turnout of socially conservative youth next year, to offset the libertarian slide that CPAC has taken.”

At David Horowitz’s Newsreal blog, the libertarian slide was also in evidence, as Ryan Mauro wrote that Sorba’s tough response to McCobin and others amounted to “condemning CPAC for allowing homosexuals who share their agenda to co-sponsor them.”

In fact, GOProud’s commitment to constitutionally protected homosexual sodomy (i.e., anal intercourse) is not a position that appears on the agenda of any conservative groups. Hence, using the term “gay conservative” to describe these people is either a deliberate deception or an oxymoron that doesn’t stand up under scrutiny.

Mauro claimed, “I know many conservatives who do not have a problem with homosexuals openly serving in the military, and many more who find banning sodomy to be an act of big government.”

Of course, the “banning” of homosexuality is not realistically possible at this stage in the United States because the Supreme Court has effectively legalized it.

But how will open homosexuals in the U.S. military be greeted on Muslim lands where homosexuality is still illegal? Mauro, who runs a website about foreign threats, may want to examine this problem.

Proud To Be Gay?

GOProud, the organization at the center of the storm, claims to be “conservative” but supports the Obama policy of putting active and open homosexuals in the military, supports homosexual marriage, and even advocates a foreign policy of promoting acceptance of sodomy abroad. The latter is referred to as “Standing strong against radical regimes who seek to criminalize gays and lesbians.”

These “radical regimes,” such as the Christian-dominated government in Uganda, are trying to prevent the spread of AIDS and protect traditional moral values by toughening laws against homosexuality.

Under these “gay conservatives,” if in power, one can imagine gay soldiers being deployed to overthrow “homophobic” regimes.

GOProud also says it wants to “defend the Constitution” in the U.S. by “Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.” It doesn’t explain how protecting the country against out-of-control judges legalizing gay marriage without a vote of the people is unconstitutional.

David Barton of Wallbuilders, whose knowledge about the moral foundations of America has been cited and recognized by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, points out that the founding fathers regarded homosexual sodomy as a crime against nature and believed it should be outlawed and punished severely. Indeed, Barton cites a case in which General George Washington himself authorized the expulsion of a solder from the army for sodomy.

Barton writes that “It can be safely said that the attitude of the Founders on the subject of homosexuality was precisely that given by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws-the basis of legal jurisprudence in America and heartily endorsed by numbers of significant Founders. In addressing sodomy (homosexuality), he found the subject so reprehensible that he was ashamed even to discuss it.” Blackstone called it “the infamous crime against nature.”

Barton goes on, “Because of the nature of the crime, the penalties for the act of sodomy were often severe. For example, Thomas Jefferson indicated that in his home state of Virginia, ‘dismemberment’ of the offensive organ was the penalty for sodomy. In fact, Jefferson himself authored a bill penalizing sodomy by castration. The laws of the other states showed similar or even more severe penalties…”

Much of this history has been ignored or forgotten, even by some conservatives.

Modern-day conservatives do not necessarily want to “ban” sodomy as a private activity but they do not want to see it promoted in the schools or given special status by government. Many want its negative health effects to be given as much scrutiny as smoking and eating fast food. 

McCobin, who had preceded Sorba and provoked the controversy, has close ties to the Cato Institute and its executive vice president, David Boaz, a member of the Independent Gay Forum and pro-marijuana activist. Boaz sits on the board of Students for Liberty.

Earlier in the week, one day before CPAC, Boaz had moderated a forum on “gay conservatives” at the Cato Institute that featured Andrew Sullivan, the HIV-positive writer who voted for John Kerry in 2004 because President George W. Bush opposed homosexual marriage. Sullivan later got “married” to another man.

McCobin’s CPAC remarks consisted of the following: “In the name of freedom, I would like to thank the American Conservative Union for welcoming GOProud as a co-sponsor of this event, not for any political reason but for the message it sends….Students today recognize that freedom does not come in pieces. Freedom is a single thing that applies to the social as well as the economic realms and should be defended at all times.”

McCobin has become a celebrity of sorts on the “Gay Patriot” website, which describes itself as “the internet home for American gay conservatives” and an affiliate of Pajamas Media. The blog is produced by Bruce Carroll and Dan Blatt. Disturbingly, Carroll wrote a column about the McCobin-Sorba confrontation on Andrew Breitbart’s website, with-out disclosing that he, Carroll, was a board member and treasurer of GOProud. Not surprisingly, Carroll thought McCobin did great.

Asked to explain where Students For Liberty stands on the major social issues, McCobin told AIM that his group doesn’t take “policy stances” on such issues as abortion and illegal drug use.

But it does apparently believe that government should protect and promote the right to practice homosexuality.

On the question of whether male homosexuals should have the right to donate blood (they are currently prohibited because of their propensity to develop HIV and other life-threatening diseases), McCobin, who said he isn’t gay, claimed, “I don’t know enough about the situation to comment on this.”

On the association with the Cato Institute, he asserted, “Students For Liberty is not affiliated with Cato in any way.”

However, he acknowledged that “Cato in-kinds office space to SFL for our use, and we work together on initiatives sometimes (e.g., Cato was one of many sponsors of the 3rd Annual International Students For Liberty Conference last weekend and Cato and SFL co-sponsored a republishing of Cato’s ‘With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true’ ad in student newspapers after it was successful in national papers last year), but there is no formal relationship and Cato does not fund SFL. SFL is run by students and recent alumni dedicated to liberty as an independent entity. Cato believes in what SFL is doing and we believe in what Cato is doing and so work together when we can.”  

SFL’s office is listed on its website as at the Cato Institute.

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