August 11, 2010

Why Fox News' 'Southern Strategy' could sink the network


Fox News host Glenn Beck recently compared America under the Obama administration to the Planet of the Apes. Fox News doesn't like black people, so is it any surprise that blacks don't tune in?

Recently, Think Progress reported that according to the Nielsen ratings, only 29,000 black viewers have watched FOX News Channel this television season, out of 2.102 million total viewers. This means that African-Americans make up a mere 1.38 percent of FOX's total audience.

That's a pathetically low number of black folks, but we shouldn't be surprised in the least. After all, given that network's recent treatment of the Shirley Sherrod story, its long history of race-baiting, and the racially-offensive statements of FOX on-air hosts such as Glenn Beck, it only makes sense that black people would not tune into a TV network that disrespects and scapegoats them, and calls them out of their name, so to speak.

But does it matter? With a diversifying U.S. population, does it matter that Fox News, a major news outlet, only seems to cater to a white audience? Could a lack of diversity come back to bite Fox News?

The Fox News coverage of the Shirley Sherrod affair revealed once again that the network not only has a problem with the truth, it has a black people problem. Fox aired a heavily edited video of a speech given by the former U.S. Department of Agriculture official, via conservative blogger and media hitman Andrew Breitbart. The video of Sherrod, who was speaking before an NAACP function, gave the impression that she was a racist who had refused to assist a white farmer in need in 1986. In reality, Sherrod--who became a civil rights activist after her father, a black farmer, was murdered by a white farmer--understood the need to help this poor white man who was in the same boat as poor blacks. But that narrative of reconciliation did not fit with the conservative mantra of "black racism" echoing from Fox News, a reaction to the NAACP's charges of racism in the Tea Party movement.


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