Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Matt Drudge's Race-War-Mongering Narrative: How Selective Editing Can Lie

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Andrew Breitbart isn't the only right-winger out there creating false narratives about his targets through selective editing -- indeed, this is a common practice at Fox News, too. But the real champion of selective editing -- in quite a different fashion -- is Matt Drudge.

Instead of chopping up video, Drudge selectively edits tidbits of information from around the country to create narratives on his widely read Drudge Report website -- narratives that, in fact, are often right-wing lies pandering to right-wing audiences.

Recently, the narrative at Drudge has been this: Criminal young black men, freed to wanton abandon by the Black Panther-coddling Obama administration, are embarking on a retributive crime wave against white people.

Alex Pareene at Salon calls him out
Since Obama actually took office, though, Drudge has seriously stepped up his "scary black people" coverage. There was, in September of 2009, the story he heavily publicized of a kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up. A kid on a bus in Illinois getting beaten up is not really national news -- until Drudge makes it so. The fact that the beater was black and the victim white is why Drudge made it national news. Rush Limbaugh made the subtext explicit: "In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."

This is the narrative that Drudge is trying to create, especially on slow news weekends when there's nothing real to aggregate and post: The blacks are rising up and attacking the whites. If that sounds a bit crazy, in a Charles Manson way, then you're obviously not paying attention. Black people are angry and they're taking over! When Barack Obama was campaigning to win Chicago the Olympic games, Matt Drudge led with a terrifying photo of (black) gang violence and the breathless, all-caps headline, "OLYMPIC SPIRIT."

The violent death of a young man is definitely news ... in Chicago, where it happened. It had very little to do with whether Chicago is a suitable venue for the Olympics. Violent murders happen in big cities and small towns across the nation every day. But only some of them can be used to stoke paranoia about emboldened, angry black people rising up.
John at Gawker observes that this past weekend, there were 10 Drudge headlines supporting this narrative:
Then be sure to check in with the Drudge Report, which has conveniently rounded up a slew of run-of-the-mill summer crime stories that happen to involve black people and suggestively weaved them into a nationwide race riot.


The race-baiting is a bit more transparent—"urban," "rib fest"—than we've come to expect from Drudge, who is usually more elegant in his efforts to stoke white rage. All of Drudge's readers in the media business, the cable news producers and Politico reporters who regard him as "America's assignment editor," know exactly what his intent is with those headlines. But instead of being dismissed as a racist weather-obsessed recluse he continues to be regarded as a power player in right-wing politics.
Unsurprisingly, some of the wingnutosphere's duller tools in the shed promptly leapt to Drudge's defense by trotting out the classic right-wing stereotypes about blacks and crime -- thereby clinching the case that what Drudge was doing was stirring up these resentments. F'r instance, Confederate Yankee:
Pareene is a far left liberal that would like to embrace the childish fiction that all races and cultures are essentially the same. It's a wonderful view to have when you're ten.
While individuals within these cultures can be anyone and achieve anything, it is a statistical fact that African-Americans are disproportionately responsible for crimes in this nation compared to any other ethnic group. They are also more likely to commit some of the more sensational crimes, such as the near riots and wildings that are the prime headline fodder that are Drudge's bread and butter.

If Pareene really wanted to make an impact, he'd spend his time and resources trying to find the reason for the statistical discrepancy that shows African-Americans are more prone to be criminals and victims of violent crime.

Of course, he already knows the reason. It started with LBJ's "Great Society," and continued with the rise of Planned Parenthood and the destruction of the African-American family unit due to "progressive" social reforms.
Oy. The stooooooopid, it burns. And then these same conservatives look hurt and amazed when people point out that their attitudes are deeply racist.

Right-wingers like Bob Owens never seem to understand that the correlation of crime with race is not a causal relationship -- rather, the causal relationship is between poverty and crime. And black people are more likely to be impoverished in America than other races for a broad variety of reasons, many of them historical in nature, but including a number of ongoing factors: demographic segregation, job discrimination, and impoverishment of urban schools.

There are many theories about race and crime in America -- some of them promoted by white supremacists such as Jared Taylor and David Duke.

As Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon observes:
Drudge's choice of what stories to highlight is about creating a narrative, and the insinuation is now that we have a black President, all hell is breaking loose. One of the weirdest, most long-standing conservative myths is that black people are aching to "rise up" and take the nation by force. The argument is then that they have to, more in sorrow than in glee, argue against equal rights for black people. They'd want to share, but you know, violence! The notion that black America is revenge-minded is something that is surprisingly powerful for wingnuts. That's why there's non-stop chatter on right wing radio about slavery reparations, even though the subject has no traction in real world discourse, and even if it did, said reparations would look much different than right wingers imagine it would like. (They're picturing jack-booted thugs stealing your grandmother's pearls and giving it to some family you don't know to pawn, but it would more likely be a check that resembles a Social Security check or a tax refund.) And that's why Andrew Breitbart thinks that some court settlement to black farmers who were systemically discriminated against for decades is the biggest problem our nation faces.
Indeed, Drudge's editorial choices tell us far more about him -- and his many fans -- than anything else.

No comments: