Media Justice

Post-Jones: taking the movement out of the Obama White House

David Sirota, Open Left

I just read the news that Van Jones was forced out of the Obama administration (and let's be real clear, despite the "resignation" billing, the White House's pathetic behavior this week makes clear Jones was forced out by the higher ups). This is a serious tragedy on three levels.

First and foremost, Jones was one of the only movement progressives in a policymaking position in the Obama White House. By that I mean, he was one of the only people in the White House who came out of grassroots movement work and not just political/partisan hack work, and one of the only movement progressives put in a policymaking job, and not ghettoized into a political/tactical job. Whenever I got sick to my stomach at the thought of Obama's Team of Corporate Zombies - people like Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and Jim Messina - running the show, I was able to at least tell myself that hey, someone like Van Jones is at least in there somewhere fighting the good fight as he always has. No more - and that's a damn shame.

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Paranoid racists ascend: thoughts on Van Jones’ resignation

David Roberts, Grist

Van Jones had to resign. It became inevitable when Gibbs offered no support.

Much of the blame for this incident lies squarely on the White House. The information used against Jones was freely available on the web. All it took was a search. I thought by hiring Jones they intended to take a chance on a real left progressive, but now it appears they were simply caught flat-footed. Either Valerie Jarrett—Jones’ champion in the upper echelons of the administration—didn’t know much about him or didn’t widely share what she knew. They certainly seemed disinclined to mount a vigorous defense with Glenn Beck gnoshing on his favorite new chew toy and the health care reform battle about to heat up again. No distractions.

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Mount Vernon Mayor declares "Glenn Beck Day"

Mark Rahner, Seattle Times

As dozens of companies pledge not to advertise on Glenn Beck's Fox News Channel show after he called President Obama a racist, and as his controversial on-air behavior draws more scrutiny, the mayor of Mount Vernon, Wash., is presenting him with a key to the city.

Mayor Bud Norris announced that Beck, who grew up in Mount Vernon, will be on hand to accept the award Sept. 26, which Norris will also proclaim "Glenn Beck Day." Tickets for the Saturday evening event are $25.

Beck's advertiser abandonment has snowballed since he called Obama a racist on July 28, adding that he believed the president has "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

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Tracing three decades of bigotry in the United States

Michael Washburn, Boston Globe

(A review of BLOOD AND POLITICS: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, by Leonard Zeskind)

Humans have tremendous capacity for ignoring failure. If we can envision something, we struggle to engender it, even if generations fail in the attempt. Science fiction often furnishes inspiration for such dreaming - Jules Verne’s submarine, for instance. Then there are the race-science fictions, misbegotten fantasies of genetic purity that have inspired nightmares from the Third Reich to Southern bigotry to anti-immigration panic. Adolf Hitler and Jim Crow are dead, but their departures merely signify the end of eras, not the end of the ambitious ignorance they represent.

Recent months have borne witness to the persistence of these dolorous fantasies. Throughout the spring, reports of hate group activity were alarmingly frequent, culminating with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI releasing a report on increased recruitment levels for these groups. The numbers of enlistees as well as the number of groups in existence have reached levels unseen since the early 1990s. This is not a provincial matter: On April 11 a Boston VFW nearly hosted a “Patriot Action 2009’’ rally co-organized by the relatively young groups Volksfront and East Coast White Unity. As the Globe reported, after the VFW canceled the event, the groups relocated to New Hampshire.

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Military terminates journalist-profiling contract

Kevin Baron, Starts and Stripes

The U.S. military is canceling its contract with a controversial private firm that was producing background profiles of journalists seeking to cover the war that graded their past work as “positive,” “negative” or “neutral,” Stars and Stripes has learned.

“The Bagram Regional Contracting Center intends to execute a termination of the Media Analyst contract,” belonging to The Rendon Group, said Col. Wayne Shanks, chief of public affairs for International Security Assistance Forces–Afghanistan.

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Boycotting Beck's sponsors is not enough

George Curry, Seattle Medium

Some of the nation’s blue chip companies – many that rely on African-American consumers for a significant portion of their profits – advertised on right-winger Glenn Beck’s incendiary program on Fox TV. They include: Procter & Gamble, Kraft Food, ConAgra (maker of Healthy Choice foods), Clorox, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, Honda, General Electric, Travelocity, State Farm Insurance, Geico, Farmer’s Insurance, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Office Depot, RadioShack, Sprint, CVS, Red Lobster, Nestle, Progressive Insurance and pharmaceutical companies Roche and Sanofi-Aventis (maker of Plavix).

Beck touched off a firestorm when he labeled President Obama “a racist” who has “deep-seated hatred for White people.” ColorOfChange.org, an Internet-oriented Black grass roots advocacy group, quickly organized a petition drive urging advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

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Semenya's race and sex struggle

Kai Wright, The Root

What stood out most as Caster Semenya faced reporters at last week’s track and field world championships was that she’s just a kid. Baby-faced and leery, she parceled out answers to ostensibly innocuous questions. “What was your running background before this year?” But a more insidious query lurked for the teen: What kind of freak are you, anyway? That’s the real question the world wants South Africa’s new star athlete to answer.

The International Association of Athletics Federations has demanded Semenya, who won the 800-meter gold last week, submit to a sex test; bookies are taking bets on the results. But whatever the IAAF’s shameless doctors conclude, the verdict about Semenya is already in—she’s a monster. What remains is to determine what type of monster we’re gawking at. A hermaphrodite? An intersexual? A genetic boy whose parents raised him as a girl? Or just a mannish woman, after all?

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Shahrukh Khan, star of forthcoming film on racial profiling, gets racially profiled at US airport

Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters

Indian Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan said he felt angry and humiliated after he was detained and questioned at a U.S. airport, sparking an uproar in India among his fans.

Khan, 43, one of India's best-known actors, was en route to Chicago for a parade to mark the Indian independence day on Saturday when he was pulled aside at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Friday, he said.

"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," he said in a text message to reporters in India.

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Women, Action and Media members respond to Washington Post "Mad Bitch" video

Women, Action and the Media

An Open Letter to the Washington Post, in response to this video posted online by Post columnists Dana Milbank and Chris Cilizza

August 4, 2009

Mr. Marcus W. Brauchli
Executive Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20071

cc: Andrew Alexander, ombudsman

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

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Hot and bothering: media treatment of Sarah Palin

Jennifer Pozner, National Public Radio

Think carefully: can you remember any passionate TV news debates about whether journalists or voters might want to get naked with Dick Cheney?

No? Good. Because such an insulting, irrelevant topic would—and should—never be considered newsworthy. Unfortunately, this sort of drivel frequently passes for journalism when the politician at the center of the story is female.

Take Alaska's soon-to-be-former Governor, Sarah Palin. When she dropped her resignation bombshell—dubbed "breathless" "girlish burbling" by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd—CNN's Rick Sanchez wondered, "hey, could she be pregnant again?," while others chalked it up to post-partum depression. Meanwhile, MSNBC analyst Donny Deutsch told Morning Joe viewers that the Quittah from Wasilla is divisive specifically because: "This is the first woman in power with sexual appeal… We're used to seeing a woman in power as non-threatening."

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