Jul
01
1992

Press Finds 'New Candor' in Old Stereotypes

Reports and opinion pieces in the mainstream press heralded speeches on the urban crisis given in March 1992 by Senators Bill Bradley and John F. Kerry as "courageous and important," "straight talk" that expressed "bravery and candor." (New Republic, 4/27/92; U.S. News & World Report, 4/20/92; New York Times, 3/29/92) New York Times columnist A.M. Rosenthal (4/21/92) saw the senators' "clear and courageous thought" as proof that American politics is not an "intellectual wasteland." Washington Post columnist David Broder (4/5/92) wrote that Bradley and Kerry had not "minced words" as the presidential candidates do. In the Senate, Bradley described cities […]

Jul
01
1992

For Media Decision-Makers, Urban Problems are Old News

At every home team baseball game, there are the same players, same ballpark, same uniforms, same rules. But the media would never conclude that coverage should shut down because there's nothing new. Somehow, though, the standard that would never be applied to sports is the rule of thumb for covering cities: Ho-hum, they're still poor -- old story, no news. The L.A. riot changed the rule, at least for a moment. The cities are newsworthy again, as the media rediscover the other America. But you might as well keep your fraying copies of the 1968 Kerner Report, because the White […]

Jul
01
1992

'Asian Invasion' Cliches Recall Wartime Propaganda

A 1943 San Francisco Examiner cartoon depicted Japanese-American men, drawn with huge buck teeth and thick eyeglasses, crossing their fingers as they recited the pledge of allegiance in a World War II concentration camp. The caption explained that "most of the Japs" crossed their fingers during the pledge—as a justification for why 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of them U.S.-born citizens, had to be confined. The cartoon is a frightening reminder of how the news media can whip up racism. Fifty years later, the media are still promoting stereotypes and fears of a different kind of "Asian Invasion." Whether […]

Jul
01
1992

'The Loudest Silence Ever Heard'

Black Conservatives in the Media

I often felt that the media assumed that, to be black, one had to espouse leftist ideas and Democratic politics. Any black who deviated from the ideological litany of requisites was an oddity and was to be cut from the herd and attacked.... There was, indeed, in my view, a complicity and penchant on the part of the media to disseminate indiscriminately whatever negative news there was about black conservatives and ignore or bury the positive news.... They could smirk at us black conservatives because they felt we had no real political or economic support. -Clarence Thomas, from a 1987 […]

Jul
01
1992

Media Myth Making

'Politically Correct' Since 1990, some news outlets have seemed less concerned about racism than about the allegedly overzealous activists who challenge inequality--denounced as "politically correct" in countless media stories. A computer search of the Los Angeles Times for the phrase "politically correct" or "political correctness" during the six months before the Rodney King case verdict found that the paper published 252 articles containing those terms—more than one a day. The compulsion to disparage activists may have helped obscure the fact that bigotry is pervasive in our society. With few exceptions (e.g., Washington Post, 1/9/91), there was little media coverage of […]