Fox News and the CBC
by Matt Stoller, Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:27:04 AM EST
I'm hearing speculation from all sorts of quarters that Fox News is going to try and co-host a Presidential debate with the Congressional Black Caucus. If this comes to pass, it's a big deal, and a mistake by the CBC. But here's the thing we ought to realize. If it happens, it's partially our fault.
One of the things about dealing with the right that I've noticed in working on specific projects is that (a) they have money and (b) they are organized and respectful. Politically of course it's a different story, and Fox News is clearly tolerant of racism, bigotry, and propaganda to a remarkable degree. But if you go to many progressives groups in DC, you'll notice that there is a lack of diversity within the leadership. The racial divide in the Democratic Party, and the progressive wing, is really really bad. This creates an atmosphere of mistrust that opens the door to devilish deals with the right.
From the CBC's perspective, black issues are just not a big deal to the white progressive movement. We talk affordable health care, they talk health care disparities. We talk global warming, they talk environmental justice. And people like Amy Sullivan talk about the religious left and the need to reach out to 'values voters' as if black churches have not been an important backbone of progressive politics for fifty years.
The CBC doesn't recognize that the netroots are not actually the old progressive movement. We are new, and much more open to collaboration and working together with a newly energized African-American political progressive movement. From our perspective, though, we have to recognize and take responsibility for our failures in having a real dialogue with African-American activists and leaders. If we aren't going to provide funding and exposure for issues of concern to the black community, and Fox News will provide both, it's a bit difficult for us to really work this out as easily as we'd like to. It's not impossible, but frankly, we can't provide the money that multi-billion dollar corporations can because we don't have it. But we need to get a real dialogue going, because like with net neutrality where the CBC found itself under attack by white progressives who from their perspective had always taken them for granted, we will not win until we are working together.
Meanwhile, I hope that progressive African-American leaders begin to recognize that the progressive white world is not monolithic, and that there are real allies here who are trying to figure out a way to deal in good faith with those with whom our interests are aligned. To put it another way, for the first time in a long time, people like me for the past six years have been on the receiving end of a right-wing campaign of smears and intimidation with a non-responsive Democratic Party stabbing us in the back. That's why Maxine Waters and bloggers were working together in Connecticut during the primary. That collaboration could be very powerful, if we can figure out how to make it work.
UPDATE: I like Tavis Smiley's approach - PBS.