Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Blacks Watch Fox News and Listen to Rush Limbaugh


Often, I turn on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to hear their points of view on hot topics. Whenever I repeat Rush Limbaugh’s name or mention Fox News to some of my Hispanic and Black friends, I get two responses; bewilderment or disgust. Then, I am peppered with questions as to why would I listen to “those racists people.” This usually leads to long discussions about the latest comments from Limbaugh about the President or how Fox News is trying to destroy our communities.

This happened last week with me and a longtime friend as we discussed the knee-jerk reaction to the Sherrod debacle by the Obama Administration that led to more criticisms by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. As I was railed against for even mentioning Fox News, I told my friend that many Black folks listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News for various reasons. She stared at me as if I fallen off a turnip truck and could not believe that anyone would listen to “those racists”. I informed her that Rush Limbaugh’s producer, James Sheldon, is a Black man who Limbaugh depends on to keep the show going. In disbelief she said, “No Black man would work for someone who spits that venom?” I agreed that Rush Limbaugh “spits venom” but I do not listen to him for news or information. He gives commentary from his point of view. I want to hear what he has to say whether I agree with him or not. My grandfather often said, “Even a broke clock is right twice a day!” Rush has built an empire that generates millions and gives his opinion on everything from a kitchen blender to the President. He makes money by being controversial not because of his fact finding revelations. As a business owner, I am not mad at him. My friend continued to share her views about programs that she do not watch or listen too until I interrupted her to ask has she turned on MSNBC to hear their resident bigot, Pat Buchanan. I stated that Pat Buchanan gets a pass for his ever-ready racial statements by the press and is far more damaging to Blacks than Rush Limbaugh or anyone Fox News has on their airwaves.

MSNBC is the cable news arm of NBC news. Both, NBC and MSNBC, are part of NBC Universal. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi, which are publically held companies.

In the world of stockholder satisfaction first, news second, MSNBC Cable News puts on several programs in a 24-hour cycle. The actual journalism arm of NBC Universal is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. It is on one time of day-5:30 in the evening. The narrative of the MSNBC may appear to lean more towards the NBC news side but on further examination of its programming like, Joe in the Morning, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, one will find that it showcases its racial extremist, Pat Buchanan, front and center. Pat Buchanan is one of Joe in the Morning’s political commentators. Buchanan is not limited to Joe in the Morning; his colorful commentary is sought after for input time and again on MSNBC’s midday programs and Chris Matthew’s Hard Ball. In my opinion, one of the worst offenders is Chris Matthews who gives Buchanan uninterrupted space at the table frequently. Hard Ball airs at 4:00 PM and is repeated twice in MSNBC’s rotation. Buchanan’s resume includes being an author, a syndicated columnist, and a broadcaster. He was a political advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Regan. Buchanan also sought the Republican nomination for President in 1992 and 1996. He ran in 2000 as the Reform Party’s candidate.


MSNBC took Fox News, Andrew Brietbart, and the NAACP to task over the Sherrod video last week and is well, they should have. However, while judging from on high they ignored the headlines that Buchanan has generated while commentating at MSNBC that received little or no rebuke from the network that gives him a seat at the table on racial discussions. In March 2008, Buchanan authored “A Brief for Whitey”. When “A Brief for Whitey” was penned, the country was at the height of the Rev. Wright controversy. Never one to miss an opportunity to keep the races divided Buchanan stated:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

I take it Buchanan is telling Black folks they should be glad to have been slaves. I could be wrong; however, it would be nice if MSNBC and Chris Matthews asked him exactly what did he mean. With a constant eye on Fox News, MSNBC gave Buchanan unlimited access to its viewers to shape opinions on Rev. Wright by focusing on some of his statements from one speech while ignoring Buchanan’s constant barrage of race baiting. One look at the titles of Pat Buchanan’s articles shows you why he was so successful with the Southern Strategy. Pat Buchanan’s article discusses racial prejudices in the ugliest of terms. Andrew Brietbart is a baby by comparison.

· Whitey Need Not Apply

· PBS is Hiring – Blacks, Whitey Need Not Apply

· The Color of Crime

· How Liberals Play Race Politics

· Pastor to the President?

· Uprooting the New Racism.

· To Advance Diversity: Should Chelsea Quit Stanford?

Many are offended by his comments but MSNBC allows him back day after day without any repercussions. Now look at the swiftness that MSNBC handed Carlos Watson a pink slip when he dared to utter the now infamous statement, “Socialist is the new N-Word”. Carlos Watson words in August 2009 led him out the door the following month. His show was abruptly ended without much explanation. Watson tried his hand at racial commentary that was off limits for people of color at MSNBC. He learned the hard way race baiting is Pat Buchanan’s territory, do not trespass.

Since the election of the President Obama, MSNBC has become less diverse than Fox News. When it comes to diversity, Fox actually has the other networks beat when it comes to commentators and guests that support their view point and even those who disagree with Fox’s narrative. You can find Julie Banderas, Linda Chavez, Wendell Goler, Lauren Green, Marc Lamont Hill, Michelle Malkin, Star Parker, Uma Pemmaraju, Jesse Lee Peterson, Al Sharpton, and Juan Williams on the network on fairly consistent bases. Glenn Beck has had town halls filled with Blacks and oddly, has had bible study on air with a member of the King family. By contrast, MSNBC allows visits from Eugene Robinson who often can not articulate what he wrote in his own column in the Washington Post. Appearances from Charles Blow of the New York Times are announced on Twitter when “balance” from the ever critique of the Obama Administration is needed and Harold Ford drops by to hold a cup of Starbucks. Professor Melissa Lacewell Harris was a regular at one point in the morning but is often found on the Rachel Maddow Show now here she is usually limited to race relations discussions. As for the Rachel Maddow, its gaining respect from fans and adversaries for actually investigating the issues before giving an opinion. Maddow’s show is taped for the 8:00 hour and repeated once before midnight. To Maddow’s credit, Pat Buchanan has been on her show, I believe, once.

This week the National Association of Black Journalists, NABJ, is having its annual convention in San Diego. Hopefully, honest discussion about how journalists of color have helped create this atmosphere by not challenging news organization to get back to journalism and less opinion led talk shows that give little specifics and all hype. I hear more protest from NABJ members about the color of the anchor instead of the substance of the news given by the media outlet. If there were more stories about how to move the country forward, more investigative news pieces and less talk about racial hate, folks will start to watch the news more for information and less for entertainment. Until then, MSNBC will continue to slip Pat Buchanan into its lineup while telling us that the Fox News has a diversity problem.

In closing, my post is to show it is easier to allow the news to drive the storyline than to actually view the facts even when it comes to reporting on itself. I always appreciate a person who tells me they dislike me upfront rather than one who smiles in my face while plotting my demise. When I see Pat Buchanan on MSNBC, I find myself totally disgusted that his history of race baiting while wearing a Christian halo (smiling in my face) is accepted by anyone let alone a news organization that spends a lot of time sitting naked in glass anchor chairs. With Fox and Limbaugh, I am told upfront who or what they dislike. With MSNBC, I am given racial commentary from a serial racist who plays a political commentator on TV.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Dr. Jacob Weiss and Playing by Air


I was introduced to Dr. Jacob Weiss by Cynthia Manley at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Jacob, as he likes to be called, is a young man with more talent in one fingernail than I have seen in an entire chorus. Jacob graduated from Princeton with B.S.E. Degree in June 2003, Department of Computer Science, summa cum laude. The rest of his online resume’ reads:

Post-Doctoral Fellow July 2009-present, The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt

Ph.D. Degree May 2009, Department of Biomedical Informatics, supported by a training grant from the National Library of Medicine

M.S. Degree December 2005, Department of Biomedical Informatics: "The Patient-Caregiver Integrated Network"


After several meetings, I was thoroughly impressed with his vast knowledge about the undeserved minority community access to information about cancer prevention, awareness, and, most importantly, survivor support. We discussed my family’s history with cancer and my desire to see more openness about minorities need for more education about a disease that if detected early, survivor rates are raised tremendously.

In my family, cancer was not a discussion until long after Daddy was diagnosed with cancer. In my small home town, the word cancer was whispered. When the word was uttered, it seemed like a death sentence and rarely was survivorship considered an option. After moving to Nashville, I have encountered the same attitudes about cancer from some women of color. As I was sharing with Dr. Weiss my experiences, he revealed that his years of research about sharing cancer information, grassroots organizations were extremely effective in distributing information to the community and helping lift the veil off a subject that many find hard to discuss. He also informed me how important it was to bring people from the field of medicine together with those that have a passion to help others to the table. This will help everyone stop whispering about cancer and actually start more public dialogues. We discussed organizations that were on fire to help stamp out cancer and we knew several of the same women who were very active in the Nashville community.

We have met several times since our initial introduction. I introduced him to the publisher of the Tribune who was impressed with his work in keeping cancer survivors informed and building a “go to” network for those seeking information. The Tribune staff marveled over his online communities that he built and maintains to keep cancer patient informed and connected; www.canconnect.org and www.catchitearly.org. What was equally remarkable about his work in the field of Biomedical Informatics is that he uses his talent as a professional juggler to keep everything working together. Did I lose you? Yes, Dr. Weiss is a professional juggler and performs across the country with "Playing by Air". Revenue from his corporate bookings funds his online community activism.

I do not know when it happen but often times I feel as if I am talking to a brother from another mother instead of a highly respected intellectual and community activist. I finally got to share all of his talents with a few others. This week, I invited my friends, Thelma and Louise, to a performance to see Dr. Weiss. Now, you already know a day with me is always a planned adventure. Thelma and Louise and guests met me downtown at the Nashville Auditorium to see "Playing by Air" perform live. I did not bother to tell them that the performance was for Moose Family Fraternity National Convention that was in town. They showed up in Black folk finery to a packed auditorium that looked a wee bit “different”. Many of the Moose Convention attendees were dressed in T-shirts and shorts. When trying to connect others to a good cause and the opportunity to meet a star before he becomes the next big thing, leaving out a few minor details was worth the odd looks we received from almost everyone as we walked to VIP waiting area. Our evening started out a little awkward but the performance was magnificent. Watching Dr. Weiss (Jacob), Ted Joblin, and Michael Karas perform a high energy 30 plus minute non-stop juggling set using everything from oval rings to violins to gigantic objects while keeping a country and western crowd thoroughly entertained with humor was something to see. The performance was truly “a symphony of action and comedy.” Seeing six Black folks sitting in middle of 2,000 White folks added to the entertainment value for me.

Do I have you intrigued about when is the next show? Good! If you want to see Dr. Weiss and "Playing by Air: in person, please join them on July 17 @ 7PM and July 18 @ 2PM at the Nashville's Children Theater. Cancer survivors' families and supporters will share a memorable evening of laughter and inspiration. Come help build community partnerships with nearly 30 organizations that have programs and workshops to help cancer survivors, families, caretakers and community.

Dr. Weiss, I mean Jacob, showed me that with a little elbow grease and creativity, we can talk about cancer, be informed, and bring joy and laughter to an audience all at once. The sponsors of the event are invested in stamping out cancer. The list includes Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Holmes Pest Control, Conner Management Group, and The Tennessee Tribune; with additional support from the Nashville Children Theater, Artistry in Motion, and Martin O’Connor Photography. Hope to see you there! For more information go to www.playingbyaircares.com

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Conversation With A Marine




(photos Lance Corporal T. Hoffman with his mom moments before he is deployed to Afghanistan. Last summer photo with his younger brother, Turner)
My dear friend Jennifer is the mom of Lance Corporal T. Hoffman. Two weeks ago, he was deplored to Afghanistan. He has the dangerous mission of searching for roadside IEDs with his dog. Prior to his departure last month, I asked him about his decision to join the USMC. Especially, when he had many other doors open for him. His words let me know that being a solider is an honorable career.

He shared his honest feelings about the questions I asked. The questions were off the top of my head and there was no agenda in asking him about his faith, freedom, and serving our country. A few were about government policy that affect who can and cannot serve in the US Military. That interview was seen in numerous newspapers and posted at www.Blogcritics.org. I wanted to hear from solider and shares his point of view about serving when he did not have too. On www.blogcritics.Org, there were some strong opinions about what was said in the article. There were several who personally attacked the right of an individual to serve in a volunteer military and share his views. Not once did the young solider criticize our country or our country leaders.

Behind computer screens with made up names, some insults were leveled about policy, why we are in Afghanistan and various other comments heaped on a young man who decided to serve. None of those questions could he have answered even if he wanted. I was discussing his commitment to serve while a few weighed in on why we were in Afghanistan. Two different issues all together. Several made it very personal. The article has been one of the most read on www.Blogcritics.org since Thursday and was posted on several other sites. After reading the comments, here is what I know for sure; Lance Corporal Hoffman did not pick the war he was asked to fight in. Nor did he decide where he was going to be stationed. He does not make up the rules of engagement and he does not pick who serves with him. He votes in one state, one election at a time. As a solider, his political views are not considered when he serves our country. When I last saw him, he showed not sign of being brainwashed to join the Marines nor was he "looking for adventure" because he chose to join. Adventure can be found climbing Mt. Everest, not looking for IEDs.

What he was in control of was his heart to serve our country. He is brave and courageous. He is young and faithful. He is married to a beautiful wife and loved by many. He is a Marine. He is the same age that many of our current and former military leaders of today were when they enlisted in our military. That list includes Generals Powell and Honore’. No one would call their decision to serve anything less than honorable.

THIS post is to say thank you to Tyler and thousands of other brave men and women who are serving our country. THIS post is to remind me that our freedom comes with a price. Cliché or not, I would not be able even to post differing views if I lived in many other countries. Remember Iran last summer? How quickly we forget. If anyone wants to debate issues about our government policy, countries where soldiers are station, wars tactics and rumors of wars…there are blogs for that. There are many policies regarding the military that our government has made over the years that I have not agreed with but one thing I keep separate; my appreciation for the those serving and debating political issues that a solider has no have power over.

Let me say again, thank you Lance Corporal Hoffman for serving our country. Thank you to every solider who has worn a uniform. Thank you to my uncles, cousins, in-laws, my brother and numerous friends for CHOOSING to serve our country.

Happy Fourth of July! Happy Birthday America

http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/why-i-serve-a-conversation-with/