Last night in the midst of a scornful monologue Bill O'Reilly appealed to his audience to "call out the racial charlatans."
O'Reilly's now multiday diatribe against what he terms the "grievance industry" is endemic of his scornful attitude towards anyone who works to solve clear racial imbalances that still persist in America today.
The source of his ire Tuesday night was a hearing held by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. The distinguished panel of witnesses included Center for Social Inclusion Founder Maya Wiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson, and Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees, who has risked his life on the line battling against the most virulent forms of racism from the KKK to Neo-Nazi groups.
It's clear O'Reilly did not care to examine or watch the content of the hearing, which was not critiqued at all in the segment. O'Reilly simply dismissed the witnesses before the panel as "far-left people who believe America is essentially an unjust country," saying that the hearing displayed a lack of diversity.
O'Reilly makes it clear throughout the segment that he can't see racism beyond the reach of his scornful gaze. Discussing the very issue of discrimination in America, according to O'Reilly, is simply a way to "stick it to the U.S.A." because the perception of racism in the country degrades our standing in the world.
During the segment O'Reilly played a montage of several black male media and political figures expressing their perceptions on race following the Trayvon Martin case that concluded with Jay Z speaking about how he did not sleep for "two days" after the verdict, upset by the "blatant" racism he witnessed.
O'Reilly seemingly dismissed the comments of Tavis Smiley, Touré, and Congressman Charlie Rangel because Jay Z could not possibly speak about racism in America being "a multimillionaire hobnobbing with President Obama." According to O'Reilly, Jay Z's entire life experience is wiped out because he achieved financial success.
As opposed to looking for solutions to solve clear racial divides in our judicial, economic, and education systems, O'Reilly's answer is shut up and stop whining because you have it good in America.
That is O'Reilly's race hustle -- demonizing anyone who speaks up against inequality, attempting to bully them into silence.
As fast food workers in 7 cities walked the picket line fighting for better wages and working conditions the conservative media turned its focus towards a solution to help lift up our working men and women out of poverty -- mock them.
To respond to the day long strike, Fox trotted out Richard Berman, failing to identify him as a highly paid consultant to the food and beverage industry. He proceeded to threaten fast food workers, claiming if they demanded incomes allowing them to live above the poverty line, the only solution would be to replace them with iPads.
On Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox Business's Charles Payne claimed that the striking workers' demand for a living wage was akin to rewarding "mediocrity."
From an air conditioned studio in Rockefeller Center, the handsomely compensated Fox contributor asserted that a wage of $15 per hour earned spending countless hours on your feet without a break, in front of a hot stove, serving hundreds of customers, would be "cursing" those workers, ridding them of the impetus to "get better," "go to college," or "improve" their lot in life.
At the luxurious wage of $15 per hour minimum wage workers would spend their days "play[ing] video games" and "hav[ing] large families."
Payne, who has a long history of suggesting that the poor live in comfort, that our social safety net keeps people in poverty, and that there needs to be more "stigma" surrounding food stamps, represents the conservative id surrounding the issue of poverty.
While 4 in 5 Americans will "struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives," the right believes the solution to all of their problems is scorn.
On Saturday night Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski posted a FoxNews.com segment in which Reza Aslan, a noted religious scholar, was interviewed by Spirited Debate host Lauren Green, a Fox News religion correspondent.
Kaczynski asked "Is this the most embarrassing interview Fox News has ever done?" due to the host's inability to accept that Aslan, who is Muslim, would have any legitimate interest in a scholarly work about Jesus.
While the segment itself was jarring, particularly when Green falsely accused Reza Aslan of hiding his Muslim faith -- a ridiculous charge implying devotion to Islam is something that must be hidden -- and furthermore as the author points out, he noted it on the second page of his book and in countless interviews.
It should surprise no one that Islamophobia has a home on Fox. From the top on down, the network's attitude could be at best described as hostile to Muslims. In Zev Chafet's hagiography of Ailes, published earlier this year, he quotes Fox News' boss explicitly stating his hostility to Muslims (emphasis added):
He donates upward of 10 percent of his net income to charities, many of them religious, including an annual fifty grand to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and another fifty grand to Catholic charities." He told me he'd be glad to give to Muslim charities, too, "if they disarm.
A Rolling Stone profile of Ailes quoted a source close to the Fox boss who claimed he "has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim - which is consistent with the ideology of his network."
These beliefs have been reflected by a number of the network's on-air personalities.
Earlier this week Sean Hannity expressed his support for Utah Senator Mike Lee's plan to hold America hostage -- unless Obamacare is defunded, Lee has threatened to block appropriations bills, resulting in at least a partial shut down of the government.
Hannity followed up yesterday by suggesting this nihilistic vision for the legislative process should be a "litmus test." He further specified "either you Republicans get off your backside and stand as a bold contrast to Obamacare and make a courageous stand, or get out of the way and we'll primary you and we'll get rid of you."
Rush Limbaugh joined in, telling his audience "one last chance to stop" Obamacare is the upcoming continuing resolution budget fight, making the point that Republicans "denying Obama and the Democrats" the ability to fund the government is a "crucial thing."
Senator Lee's efforts spawned a full-fledged campaign by the conservative media. At Redstate.com, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson asked his readers to call targeted Republican senators and "ask that they sign the Mike Lee letter" which specifically states that its signers "will not support any continuing resolution or appropriations legislation that funds further implementation or enforcement of Obamacare."
Erickson continued in his blog post: "It is important to get their signatures on that letter or we can presume they will fund Obamacare."
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch followed suit by launching a campaign targeting her home state senator Roy Blunt, demanding he too sign Lee's letter.
Fortunately for the country, some members of the Senate Republican Conference do not share the same self-flagellating desires of the conservative media.
On last night's episode of The Five, host Eric Bolling claimed Democrats strategically create racial division as a political strategy. Asked by fellow host Bob Beckel whether he believes that "we sit around in the Democratic Party and want to have racial division," he replied, "I do, yes."
It was an absurd charge coming from Bolling, whose racial invective has included referring to the President of Gabon's visit to the White House as "a hoodlum in the hizzouse" and suggesting that President Obama was "chugging 40s" during a state visit to Ireland.
Bolling wasn't the only one on Fox claiming that racism is largely being drummed up by liberals. Co-host Greg Gutfeld chimed in claiming that "racial warfare right now is the crack cocaine of CNN, MSNBC, and most college campuses."
Later in the evening Bill O'Reilly told his audience that civil rights leaders want "to divide the country along racial lines because that's good for business."
Oh the irony.
There are few in American politics who have done more to strategically divide this country along racial lines for political and financial gain than Fox News chief Roger Ailes.
A day after Senator Mike Lee of Utah threatened to shut down the government if Obamacare is not defunded, he took his campaign to Sean Hannity's radio show.
Knowing he is in the minority in the Senate, Lee has explicitly threatened to filibuster appropriations bills, including continuing resolutions needed to keep the government operating, telling a Baltimore radio station "I'll utilize every procedural mechanism at my disposal to do it."
A procedural maneuver such as this, if Lee and Hannity gain the backing of a significant number of Republican Senators, would surely result at best in a stand-off that if unresolved would lead to a government shutdown akin to what occurred in 1995. As NPR notes, that year "it wasn't just government workers who took big hits, but tens of thousands of businesses somehow reliant on the government whether they knew it or not." Groups affected included veterans, those needing the assistance of the State Department, patients seeking help from the National Institutes of Health, and even those needing firearms permits processed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Hannity, ignoring the consequences, eagerly jumped onboard telling Lee:
"This is an interesting moment - I think - and a test for the Republican Party. Are they going to be the conservative alternative? How many members of the House and Senate ran on repealing Obamacare? Now they can vote symbolically or they can take this stand, is what you're telling them to do. I'm supporting you. I think they ought to just put their foot down, stand on principal and stop calculating what political impact is going to be felt here. Fund the rest of the government, but just defund Obamacare. And then if the Democrats want to shut down the government, then let them shut it down."
Hannity's suggestion that Democrats would be shutting down the government by rejecting Lee's threat is either willfully ignorant or blindly naïve of the legislative process.
Lee knows he does not have the majority of votes in the Senate to kill Obamacare by defunding it. And while the House of Representatives is willing to waste its time on dozens of phony Obamacare repeal votes, the chamber never has taken real steps towards that goal.
Telling his listeners Republican members of the House and Senate should "stop calculating what political impact is going to be felt here" Hannity at least tacitly admits the political peril it would place the GOP in if Lee were to follow through on this maneuver.
But the politics don't account for the millions of Americans, from veterans, to small businesses who contract with the federal government who would be harmed by this legislative gamesmanship - not to mention the signal of instability it sends to financial markets around the world that the US government cannot pass a budget without its minority party, led by conservatives media figures holding the country hostage to their narrow ideology.
After two successive election cycles of pushing extreme picks that cost the Republican Party at least half a dozen Senate seats and most likely control of the chamber, conservative media figures seem content to do it all over again.
At his RedState.com blog, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson warned fellow conservatives of "the Hatch Effect" stemming from the conservative Utah senator's primary challenge in 2012. Hatch, Erickson writes, "had been a conservative warrior for a long time, he sounded conservative, and we'd need him in the fight against amnesty."
Yet some in the conservative media, including RedState, who "fretted that Hatch might return to the ways of Ted Kennedy's best friend on the right were drowned out by a near unified conservative front."
Hatch, after winning reelection, committed a cardinal sin by voting for the immigration reform bill.
The lesson according to Erickson: "This year, some long time Republican Senators are going to get primary challengers. There will be large megaphones declaring just how conservative those Senators are. There will be people trotted out to remind you that for decades these have been the men we relied on to save us from big government."
He continued: "There are no indispensable men and unless conservatives are wil[l]ing to take the scalps of a few of their so called 'heroes' who've grown in office, the fight for freedom will continue to be undermined once these men have another six year term under their belt."
After the embarrassing failures of Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Joe Miller, and Ken Buck, the conservative media are still willing to drive the Republican Party over a cliff.
Punctuated by the statement, "Trayvon Martin could've been me, 35 years ago," President Obama laid out his personal experiences as a black man in America July 19 in the White House briefing room.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.
In response, a group of white, male, and conservative media figures decided to lecture the nation's first black president as to why his own personal experiences with race in America were not genuine.
Commentator Ben Ferguson attempted to explain on CNN how all men, not just black men, evoke fear from women. Host Don Lemon called the conservative pundit "sadly naïve."
Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes accused the president of "trying to tear our country apart."
Ben Shapiro of Breitbart.com tweeted: "Shorter Obama: Look at me! America is racist."
His Breitbart.com colleague, Dr. Timothy Daughtry, wrote on July 21: "If Martin had been white, Zimmerman would have been portrayed in the media as the minority victim. Obama might have even said, 'If I had a son, he would look like George Zimmerman.' "
He went on to declare: "For Americans who see the world through a Judeo-Christian worldview, it is the content of one's character and not the color of one's skin that matters."
The conservative movement likes to fantasize that a world where decisions are based on the "content of one's character and not the color of one's skin" is already the reality and no longer just a dream Dr. King asked Americans to strive for.
Conservatives do not just reject the president's personal narrative; they also deny all those who have faced discrimination the right to their own experiences.
The same voices that declare the president's story illegitimate also dismiss those with stories to tell about voter disenfranchisement at the hands of laws designed to solve the nonexistent problem of voter fraud. Those who face a racially imbalanced criminal justice system are also ignored. And any attempt to correct generations of economic imbalance caused by structural racism are further shunted to the side.
While it is shockingly offensive that a cohort of white male pundits would deny the president ownership over his own story, it also exemplifies the core ignorance embedded in the conservative media's reaction to conversations about race.
Skin color doesn't matter as much if you come from a position of privilege, which I am able to write from a position of privilege. If you've never had to experience the pain of discrimination based on the pigmentation of your skin cells, it's easier to ignore or even criticize black Americans' personal experiences.
Unless there is a dramatic change of course, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to move forward today with the "nuclear option," changing the rules of the Senate to permit the approval of Executive Branch appointments by a simple majority vote.
After four and a half years of unprecedented obstruction -- encouraged by an incentive structure in which the media has rewarded Republicans for helping to stall the workings of our federal government -- this turn might have been inevitable.
Formally, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell articulated the principle that these appointments, except in rare circumstances, should be confirmed without delay. The Kentucky Republican has previously said that for "over 200 years," the president's selections were given "up-or-down votes" regardless of "who the president is, no matter who's in control of the Senate," adding, "That's the way we need to operate."
During the presidencies of Harry Truman through George W. Bush, executive appointments faced cloture in the Senate on only 20 occasions. During the Obama administration, the Senate has been forced to take 16 such cloture votes, unduly holding up nominations.
By blocking nominees to run vital federal agencies, Republicans not only disrupt the careers of these public servants, but they interfere with the president's ability to effectively govern. Very often, though, that is their goal. Sen. Lindsey Graham once issued a press release declaring that an "inoperable" National Labor Relations Board "could be considered progress." Indeed, the Republican filibuster of NLRB nominees has meant the lack of a quorum, eliminating the board's ability to enforce labor standards.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano summed up this strategy on the July 11 edition of Fox's Special Report, telling host Bret Baier: "From my worldview, it means fewer nominees, fewer laws passed, and that's a good thing."
So far in 2013, the conservative media have cheered on the obstruction, or attempted obstruction, of numerous Obama nominees including Tom Perez at the Department of Labor, Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon.
The rewards and punishments for Republican senators are clear: Toe the conservative media's line and gain access to a base willing to provide funding and on the ground support for your campaigns; stray and you just might end up with a primary opponent, dooming your chances at re-election.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson made this transaction clear, writing on his RedState website to demand that the GOP filibuster Hagel and accusing Republicans John McCain and Lindsay Graham of "going wobbly," asking his readers to "Call your Senator. Tell him or her to join the Republicans in their filibuster of Chuck Hagel."
Fox's Sean Hannity described a first vote that temporarily blocked Hagel's nomination as "the first time a filibuster of a cabinet nominee has been used, and needless to say, this marks a major win for the GOP."
And while a partisan media rewards those disrupting the system with adulation, non-ideological publications do their best to put a pox on both houses in their reporting.
During Hagel's confirmation fight, Politico suggested even bringing the former senator up for a vote "could damage the [Armed Services] committee's longtime bipartisan spirit." Hagel was eventually confirmed with 58 votes.
Others have simply ignored Republican intransigence to blame the president for not magically forcing a change in the opposition party.
The rare exception this brand of reporting include Michael Grunwald at Time magazine, who has extensively reported on GOP attempts to disrupt the Obama administration; Greg Sargent of The Washington Post; and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, whose Washington Post op-ed "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem" and related book It's Even Worse Than It Looks squarely place the blame where it belongs. But most of the media seemed uninterested in Ornstein and Mann's thesis.
With the conservative media cheerleading for obstruction and the nonpartisan media adamantly refusing to place any accountability on the responsible parties, Republican senators are being rewarded for obstruction and punished for constructive engagement.
This perverse incentive structure leaves Harry Reid no choice other than to try and change the Senate's rules.