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Media Bias Glaring in Racial Coverage
by Robert R..Eberle, Ph.D., GOPUSA
14 October 2003Donkey

The media's treatment of the Bobby Jindal incident shows that only certain racial incidents merit media coverage and outrage.


America is a land of labels.  Clothes have them, and so do cars.  Furniture, glassware, even the pen in your hand has a label.  Often people are judged by these labels, and in many cases, status is assigned based on labels.  Along with clothing and cars, there is another label upon which people are judged.  This label has nothing to do with money or power.  A person can't purchase this label or trade for it, because this label is assigned at birth and carried until death.  This label is race, and more than clothes or cars, race is the source of great pride and great tribulation.  America has seen its share of racial strife, and race continues to be a major issue in political discourse.  However, the discussion and coverage of race has a set of unwritten rules: not everyone can talk about it, and only certain racial incidents merit media coverage and outrage.

A case in point is the recent incident in Louisiana involving the College Democrats and the Republican candidate for governor, Bobby Jindal.  College Democrat President Ashley Bell sent a memo to Democrat supporters in which he called Jindal an "Arab American," a "Do Boy," and a "token" candidate.  Jindal, who is Indian and not an Arab, is hardly a "token" candidate.  One only has to look at Jindal's credentials -- Rhodes Scholar, former president of the University of Louisiana system, and former assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- to see that the Republicans are well represented in the race for Louisiana governor.

When it was pointed out to Bell that Jindal is Indian and not Arab, Bell responded by writing, "In a recent email describing the Republican Nominee in Louisiana Bobby Jindal, I used what local news has termed Arab American - But in Fact Indian American is the politically correct terminology."

The outrage from Republicans and other groups was swift.  Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson said, "This is completely unacceptable and inappropriate, but indicative of the kind of personal attacks Democrats have been launching against Republican candidates all over the country."

Use of race in a derogatory or belittling manner justifiably draws outrage from most Americans.  However, it is interesting to note just how this incident was covered by the media.  The story was first reported by the web-based, conservative news organization Talon News.  The next day, other conservative media such as CNSNews.com and NewsMax.com picked up on the story.  Other media outlets such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all passed on the coverage.

In contrast, when Rush Limbaugh expressed an opinion to the effect that the media may be more supportive of black athletes, the media jumped on the story and created such an uproar that Limbaugh was forced to resign.  All the media outlets covered it, and liberals quickly stepped forward to condemn the comments.

Is it OK for Democrats to get a pass when playing the race card, while Republicans are raked over the coals for the mere mention of race?  No, it's not, but the American people wouldn't know it considering the kind of coverage given by the media to various racial stories.

When then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke at retiring Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party and said that America would have been better off had Thurmond won the presidency in 1948, the media coverage was intense and constant.  Thurmond ran on the segregationist "Dixiecrat" ticket, and the remarks by Lott followed by the nonstop barrage by the media led to Senator Lott stepping down from his post as Senate majority leader.

Back in March, Democrat Congressman Jim Moran said that the Jewish community was responsible for influencing America into going to war with Iraq.  The comments from Representative Moran drew condemnation from the White House and Jewish groups, but little was mentioned by the media.  At the time, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "Those remarks are shocking. Those remarks are wrong. Those remarks are inappropriate. And those are remarks that should not have been said."

The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matthew Brooks, said, "This kind of rhetoric is part of a deeply troubling pattern of anti-Israel sentiment that is rising up within certain segments of the Democratic Party and that continues to go unanswered by Democratic leaders."

Only after repeated statements by the White House and Jewish leaders did the Democrat congressional leadership step forward to denounce the remarks.  All the while, the story slipped under the radar screen of most Americans due to minimal media coverage.

A double standard exists in the media regarding race, and it is a double standard which must be exposed and eliminated.  On one hand, those on the left claim that Americans should strive for racial equality, but on the other hand push policies that promote, restrict, identify, and limit opportunities for individuals based on race.  When members of the liberal establishment cause outrage for their racial "insensitivities," seldom is attention drawn to the offending remarks or actions by the media.

For America to move beyond the racial divide that exists in certain segments of society, the media must be fair in its coverage and equal with its condemnations.  The media must also identify those who seek to advance their own personal agendas through race-baiting and racial politics. An evenhanded approach to coverage will show America that racism isn't an exclusive facet of any one political party or philosophy.


Bobby Eberle is President and CEO of GOPUSA.com
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