The media’s current preoccupation with all things Russian, when the far more imminent threat is much closer to home, represents what is known as “cognitive dissonance,” which in the U.S. manifests as the white settlers’ reflexive attempt to rationalize their own savagery to avoid unsettling and even traumatizing truths.
MILWAUKEE (Analysis) — The Donald Trump who addressed a small audience in Miami’s Little Haiti community, seven weeks before Election Day 2016, appeared to be an impostor.
Gone were the gunslinger’s swagger, the arrogant smirk, and the shrill condescension, and in their place stood a subdued – almost humble – candidate, who seemed to be making a sincere effort to court South Florida’s Haitian vote and narrow the gap in the polls between his campaign and that of the Democratic frontrunner.
“Haiti showed the world so much heart and so much resilience,” he said of the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake. And yet, “when Haiti needed help the most, Secretary of State Clinton was responsible for doing things that a lot of the Haitian people were not happy with. We know that taxpayer dollars intended for Haiti and the earthquake’s victims went to the Clinton cronies,” he said, referring to reports that donations to the Clinton Foundation did little to relieve the suffering in the earthquake’s aftermath.
He continued: “My opponent calls those who don’t support her ‘deplorables’. You’re not deplorables, not this group …I am running to represent Haitian-Americans, and African- Americans and Asians, (and) at the top of my agenda will be jobs, jobs, jobs.”
When he finished, the audience erupted in thunderous applause while he squeezed his girth on to a narrow chair. “He is the first U.S. presidential candidate in history to visit the Haitian community,” said the moderator, to yet another round of applause. “The other ones came to pick up the check and we never saw them back again. … The Clintons have been running Haiti for 25 years,” he said — repeating a widely-held belief among Haitians that the power-couple exploited a 1993 coup against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to privatize the country’s resources –“and they say … ‘Haiti is open for business,’ and the Haitian community knows that Haiti was open for Monkey Business!”
Spitting at the wrong spot
A crowd cheers as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Baton Rouge, La., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
A year into the Trump Administration, the White House press corps has yet to unearth any proof that Russian operatives somehow managed to hijack the election but continues nonetheless to insist breathlessly that President Vladimir Putin orchestrated Clinton’s defeat. What the evidence clearly suggests, however, is an altogether different narrative: after more than 30 years of championing policies that jail, dispossess, miseducate, and betray black voters who have traditionally been the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituents, the political supercouple’s chickens finally came home to roost.
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Trump made few inroads with African-Americans but he managed the next best thing: black voter turnout in 2016 declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6 percent after reaching a record-high 66.6 percent in Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection bid.
Turnout was lowest in the critical state of Florida and in the “blue wall” of Rust-Belt states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania — won by Obama in 2012. By the time Clinton addressed South Florida’s Haitian community, Trump had already campaigned there twice, and she went on to lose the critical state by roughly 120,000 votes, or just about the difference in black voter turnout from 2012 to 2016.
Similarly, she won 50,000 fewer votes in Detroit than had Obama four years earlier, and 27,000 fewer votes than had Obama in the majority-black city of Milwaukee — which accounted almost entirely for Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin, even though he won roughly the same number of votes in the state – about 1.4 million – as had the GOP’s 2012 nominee Mitt Romney. Clinton did not make a single campaign appearance in Milwaukee.
Whitened U.S. media has lost touch with currents in and impact of non-white America
Photo: Vice President Al Gore looks on as President Clinton uses an electronic pen to sign the Telecommunications Reform Act, Thursday Feb. 8, 1996 at the Library of Congress in Washington. With high-tech fanfare and a touch of humor, the president signed the bill to revolutionize the way Americans get telephone and computer services. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
What, then, accounts for the news media’s preoccupation with Russian espionage as the critical factor in the 2016 election, when the smart money is on a discerning black polity?
The media in the U.S. has never been especially diverse, but over the past 20 years it has undergone a stark transformation, initiated, ironically enough, by Bill Clinton’s 1996 Telecommunications Act, which deregulated the industry and allowed giant corporations to buy up thousands of news outlets across the country, tightening their monopoly on the flow of information in the United States and around the world.
Since the law was enacted, the number of black journalists in U.S. newsrooms has plummeted by nearly half, from 2,946 in 1998 to 1,560 in 2015, according to the American Society for Newspaper Editors (ASNE). On a per capita basis, that figure is slightly smaller than it was in 1890, when the U.S. Census counted 300 black journalists out of a total population of 62 million, compared with 325 million today.
According to ASNE, as a percentage of the workforce, Blacks accounted for 5.4 percent of all editorial staff in 2015 — a proportion virtually identical to the 1968 Kerner Commission Report’s estimate that African-Americans represented only 5 percent of the nation’s journalism workforce then. Even fewer, about 1 percent, are supervising editors.
The Kerner Commission was charged with identifying the causes of the season of revolts that erupted in America’s big cities beginning with the Watts rebellion in August of 1965 and culminated three years later following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The common thread in all of the riots, the report’s authors wrote, was racial discrimination in housing, education, job opportunities and, centrally, the news media, which was so disconnected from the black community writ large that it had almost nothing useful to say about its causes, or how to prevent such uprisings in the future.
Robbie Thompson participates in a march honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in San Antonio. Parades and celebrations have been scheduled across Texas to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on the federal holiday in his name. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)