Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maybe Keith Olbermann has a point

UPDATE: Humor can be a subtle thing. The video above was not intended to agree with Olbermann, it was intended to ridicule him. Compare the faces of the NBC family surrounding him with the faces from these tea party videos:

Anybody else, any other network I would give the benefit of the doubt to, figuring that they had just automatically presumed the tea party people were racist, and so didn't bother to go to a rally and look. But as I showed in an earlier post, MSNBC has in the past actually edited footage to conceal African Americans.

Second update: Tea Party organizers respond directly to Mr. Olbermann


Charlie Talbert said...

Gary Kowalski, minister of First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington, Vermont, made a similar good point on his blog, Revolutionary Spirits, last week. Diversity may seem a threat to the current tea party people, but it wasn’t to the original revolutionaries.

Steph said...

I've seen Herman Cain at Tea Party events; I've seen African-Americans in the crowds here in Atlanta. I've also seen clips of Michael Williams, Allen West and Alan Keyes at other events. (Anyone can look around Youtube for these and others.) I honestly didn't realize that diversity was a "threat" to us?


Chalicechick said...

I got the original point of the video, though Lester Holt has been so central to MSNBC's Olympics coverage that the timing of the video seems quite unfortunate for its makers as the falsity of what they are implying by showing only the white MSNBC anchors is really extra obvious right now.

It takes a lot more cherrypicking to put white people who are on 30 Rock on the screen with Olbermann and leave out Tracy Morgan, Keith Powell, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman and Maulik Pancholy, all of whom are in just about every episode, than it does to look at the first return google image gives when you look for crowd shots of tea partiers and declare that you mostly see white faces.

Particularly when you compare it to what you get when you search for "antiwar march crowd shots" instead. (Yes, I'm sure there are pictures of antiwar protests that mostly show white people, but still...)

That the tea party movement isn't especially racially diverse is not the moral point to me that it is to Olbermann, but it seems to be inarguably the truth and I don't have to edit my images together to get there.


Joel Monka said...

(Comment by CC that Blogger lost)
Given that both stories say that a dozen people showed up with guns, I don't know that we know for certain that MSNBC and CNN were filming the same guy.

The general theme of the MSNBC piece was "one of these guys with guns might shoot the president," so I can see why for defamation suit reasons they wouldn't want the person attached to that charge to be identifiable. I can't say that I wouldn't have edited the clip similarly even if it were a white guy.

The CNN footage makes it clear that at least one of the guys carrying guns was white. So I'm not sure why MSNBC wasn't justified in making the point that it is disturbing to see white guys with guns showing up when a black political leader is going to talk.

Given that every assassination of an American political leader has been committed by a white guy*, I can understand why the story focused on them.


*Ok, excepting Sirhan Shirhan

Joel Monka said...

It's quite true that the Tea Party movement isn't as diverse as the nation as a whole; my complaint is with the type of thinking that says "majority white = racist", no ifs, ands, or buts. As Olbermann says in this article, "The whole of the "anger at government" movement is predicated on this."

A deeper thinker than Olbermann might have analyzed it thusly: The President's popularity is a little over 50%, and one might imagine that most of those who think he's not on the right track aren't sufficiently upset to actually go and protest. Most of the Tea Party types are Republicans and Libertarians. Only about 10% of African Americans vote Republican and Libertarian in normal elections. Logically, one might also expect that many blacks, even if disappointed with President Obama, would not go out and protest against the first black president; I probably wouldn't myself if I were in that demographic- I'd fear losing all my friends. So how many black faces might one expect to see at a tea party? Let's see... 12% of the population, times 10% Republican, times the 50% who think he's off track, gives us 0.06% of the population. Let's say half of those wouldn't protest the first black president. That means out of a crowd of a thousand, three of them would be black, and if not on the podium, impossible to note in a crowd photograph. (I note that the pictures you reference are from Portland, and that the state of Oregon is only 2% black before you start correcting for Republican, etc.)

But Olbermann is having none of it. The anger is racially motivated, and the policy disputes merely a cover. Never mind that CNN's poll gives the racial breakdown as 80%White, 10%Latino, and 2%African American- which is only 5% Whiter than the population at large.

"I don't know that we know for certain that MSNBC and CNN were filming the same guy." Perhaps not- but he had the same build, was wearing the same shirt, pants, belt, was carrying the same make, model, and stock color rifle, slung from the same shoulder, in the same manner, (upside down), and both had a man wearing black pants and black tea shirt standing behind and to the left.

"So I'm not sure why MSNBC wasn't justified in making the point that it is disturbing to see white guys with guns showing up when a black political leader is going to talk." Two reasons- first, because they made a big deal out "assault rifle"- a scare word for the general public, and used the cropped photo of the man carrying the assault rifle. Secondly, because the CNN report had been aired the day before the MSNBC panel, and it reported that the weapons were arranged ahead of time with the police. Relatively few assassins do that.