On Saturday’s edition of Reliable Sources, CNN host Brian Stelter worried that the media was failing to shine a spotlight on the racism of Donald Trump supporters. Apparently having emerged from a thick cocoon through which 99% of news coverage could not permeate, Stelter asked panelist W. Kamau Bell if the media was ignoring the dark side of Trump’s rise.
“What about racial anxiety as a factor?” he asked. “I think this piece of the Trump story has been overlooked.”
Overlooked? Is there a mainstream media outlet in the country that has not explored this subject on a daily basis for the last 11 months straight? Trump has been painted as a racist since 2011, when he started demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate. He was painted as a racist from the first day of his campaign, when the media turned “they’re sending rapists” into the most played quote of 2015. And every liberal pundit in America has insinuated that Trump rallies are basically Klan gatherings in disguise. If the media spent any more time discussing “racial anxiety,” there wouldn’t be time left for anything else.
But no, none of that made it through the cocoon.
“America is always afraid of a race conversation,” explained Bell. “The mainstream media, which is in large part owned by white people, is always afraid of an honest and open race conversation.”
…he said on CNN.
But he’s right about one thing: the media is afraid of an “honest” race conversation. An honest race conversation would include viewpoints from across the spectrum. Every race conversation we see in the media starts with an assumption: This thing is happening and it’s evil. Thoughts?
And you can say, “Well, he didn’t really mean that…”
And you can say, “Yes, but what we should really focus on is…”
But you cannot say, “I don’t agree that the thing you’ve called evil is actually evil.”
And you cannot say, “I don’t believe this evil thing you say is happening is actually happening.”
Those opinions are not allowed.
So no, we don’t get an “honest race conversation.” We don’t get a conversation at all. We get lectures. We get assertions from people who are under no pressure to back them up with facts. We get smarmy journalists feigning surprise when they come across a Hispanic Trump supporter.
And then, just to rub salt in the wound, we have to listen to them act like none of this is happening.