Fox News rents the Congressional Black Caucus

by Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report

" takes a whole lot of grease to fry the CBC's chicken"

Ignoring a withering storm of criticism from virtually every respected voice in black and progressive America, the Congressional Black Caucus has announced its intention to stage a pair of 2008 presidential debates for Fox News. Supposedly these debates would focus on issues important to African American voters. But don't count on it. If there's a way to turn a presidential debate on African American issues into an inflammatory and degrading minstrel show, we can be certain the boys and girls at Fox News are already hard at work figuring it out.

Why are organizations affiliated with the Congressional Black Caucus helping them? We'd like to believe the Congressional Black Caucus and its affiliated bodies, headed by elected black faces in the nation's highest places, would be the purest expression of black America's political will. But the truth is somewhere else. As the African American blog noted,

"...the voices of... people of color don't mean much when there's money involved. How much you ask? Well, the debate is being run by the CBC Institute. But while one hand is stirring the greens, the other hand is frying chicken.

"Guess it takes a whole lot of grease to fry the CBC's chicken. Grease MSNBC and other networks must not be handing over quite as liberally to CBC-related organizations. In 2002, the CBC Foundation was given an undisclosed amount from Fox News and parent company News Corp. Between 2003-2005, they gave the CBC somewhere between $47,500 to $98,998 with numbers for 2006 still unavailable. Don't believe me. Get the facts here and take a look at CBCF's donor list."

The CBC-Fox News scandal clearly illuminates the bankruptcy of corporate funded black leadership. The CBC Institute and the CBC Foundation are "not for profit" money pockets created to receive corporate contributions. For a big enough donation, greedy war profiteers, rapacious minimum wage retail empires, parasitic insurers who rake off a quarter of every health care dollar while refusing coverage to millions of African Americans all send their token black execs to sit on "corporate roundtables" that dictate public policies and write laws to be pushed by black legislators. Similar models are followed by such organizations as the NAACP, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

"American corporate media have rarely been allies of black America"

Imagine for a moment that the Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 60s had been funded by corporate donations. Would the Montgomery Bus Boycott ever have happened? If Dr. King needed regular checks from Lockheed and General Motors to pay SCLC's bills, would he have dared oppose the war in Vietnam? If SNCC had been addicted to regular checks from General Electric, would they have launched the freedom rides, or voter registration drives in rural Mississippi and Alabama? The answers are obvious, and telling.

Finally, while Fox News will surely use its parody of a CBC-endorsed debate to inflict lasting damage on the black body politic, American corporate media have rarely been allies of black America. You will search NPR, MSNBC, CNN and the rest in vain for sustained and substantive discussions of America's universal public policies of racially selective policing and mass imprisonment. ABC, NBC and PBS are all pretty much finished with the plight of Katrina evacuees, and unwilling to draw attention to the ethnic cleansing of New Orleans and what amounts to the exile of up to half its black former residents. And though hundreds of lines of print and many minutes of broadcast time are generated daily on the political firings of federal prosecutors, corporate media are curiously reluctant to mention that enthusiastic participation in the suppression of black and Latino voters has been a key litmus text for federal district attorneys in the Bush era Justice Department.

When Fox led the way in trumpeting administration lies in the rush to war, we ought not forget that all the other networks from CNN to NPR eagerly followed. Dan Rather declared that when the president says jump, his only question would be how high. Ted Koppell donned a gas mask and biohazard suit on camera. MSNBC fired Phil Donahue, and NPR echoed baseless slurs against Georgia's Cynthia McKinney. Media execs coined the rush to the right on the part of the mainstream broadcasters "the Fox effect", as though they were blameless innocents swept helplessly along by some irresistible outside force. But they are more like Fox than not, and more likely to follow its lead than not.

In the herd of corporate media working hard every day to ignore legitimate black opinions and aspirations Fox News stands out for its frank racism, its open hostility to African America, and its consistent disregard for truth and the ordinary conventions of journalism. The spectacle of compromised corporate black leadership in bed with the pack leaders of ravenous corporate media is too awful to pass unopposed. We urge our readers to visit, where they can view a brief video sample of the hateful trash Fox News dishes every day as "coverage" of African America. We hope that many of you sign the petition, as we have, launched by our friends at Color of Change urging 2008 presidential candidates to boycott any presidential debate held at Fox News, while attending to another CBCI debate on CNN. After signing we hope you will forward it to others on your email list who will do the same.

article originally published at

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey