Ishmael Reed’s contextualization (CounterPunch, 6/29/09) of the epic demonization of Michael Jackson within historical U.S. media racism also takes a swipe at CNN‘s Black in America program, “an exercise meant to boost ratings by making whites feel good by making blacks look bad, the marketing strategy of the mass media since the 1830s“:
In preparing for a sequel to the first Black in America, which boosted the networks ratings (the O. J. trial saved CNN!), CNN rolled out the usual stereotypes about black Americans. Unmarried black mothers were exhibited, without mentioning that births to unmarried black women have plunged since 1976 more than that of any other ethnic group. Then we got some footage that implied that blacks as a group were homophobes even though Charles Blow, a statistician for the New York Times, recently published a chart showing that gays have the least to fear from blacks. Recently, the media perpetrated a hoax that blacks were responsible for the passage of Proposition 8, the California proposition that banned gay marriage. An academic study refuted this claim, but that didn’t deter the New York Times from hiring Benjamin Schwarz to explain black homophobia. Schwarz is the writer who wrote in the Los Angeles Times that blacks who were victims of lynchings in the south were probably guilty.
In the last Black in America, Soledad O’Brien, CNN‘s designated tough love agent against the brothers and sisters, scolded a black man for not attending his daughter’s birthday party. The aim of this scene was meant to humiliate black men as neglectful fathers. Ms. O’Brien won’t be permitted by her employees to mention that 75 percent of white children will live at one time or another in a single-parent household and that the governor of South Carolina’s not showing up for Father’s Day isn’t just a lone aberration in “White America.”
On that note, Reed wonders, “How would CNN promote a White in America?” Would they feature “the thousands of meth addicts who have abandoned their children? The California rural and suburban white women who do more dope than Latino and black youth?” And if not, “Why not? Can’t get State Farm, Ford and McDonald’s to sponsor such a program? All of these companies are sponsoring Black in America“–“the aim of which,” Reed reminds us, “is to cast collective blame on blacks for the country’s social problems. For ratings.”