At the end of April, Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher decided Ed Schultz looked like a genius for outing Donald Trump as a racist, partly on the grounds that Trump had the audacity to reference basketball as one of the President’s pleasures (the piece was recently relabeled a “column”). The President constantly makes an ostentatious show of his love for basketball – whether he is filling out tournament brackets, staging photo-ops with the UNC basketball team, joining sportscasters to give basketball commentary at Duke games, publicizing his own basketball games at the White House, promoting his former Duke Basketball playing “body man” and on and on.
But Tommy Christopher of course found it viciously racist for Donald Trump to associate President Obama with basketball regardless of how desperately the President tries to associate himself with basketball. Surely it is just another attempt by Trump to “other-ize” the President by associating him with some exotic sport that is extremely foreign to the white people of America (like John Thune and Scott Brown perhaps?).
But there are race mongers, and then there is Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher.
To give you an idea of just how frivolous and contrived Christopher’s efforts to weaponize race for political gain really are, on April 27, as just described, Christopher blasted Donald Trump as a vicious racist blowing on that “dogwhistle [sic]” for associating the President with basketball (instead of golf, which would be less racist according to Christopher) as an effort to make him the “other.” What a racist dog whistler of a potential Republican Presidential candidate. (No word on his thoughts of rapper Common, a White House guest tonight, who spoke out against interracial marriages.)
But only two months prior, on March 3rd Tommy Christopher savagely attacked Mike Huckabee as a vicious racist blowing on that “dogwhistle [sic]” for NOT associating the President with the “quintessentially American game” of basketball (more American than baseball according to the March 3rd Tommy Christopher):
“Intentional or not, the same pack of dogs who lapped up Huckabee’s Confederate flag rhetoric will still salivate at the sound, as they will over Huckabee’s ‘Little League Baseball’ dividing line. As Matthews points out, basketball is actually a more quintessentially American game, as baseball owes its roots to European games. Huckabee surely knows that Obama played basketball as a youth, so why the reference? Why doesn’t basketball pass muster?”
Yes, according to March 3rd Tommy Christopher, Huckabee’s failure to acknowledge all of the basketball in Obama’s youth was an attempt by Huckabee to other-ize Barack Obama. What a racist dog whistler of a potential Republican Presidential candidate.
But do Tommy Christopher’s efforts to smear potential Republican Presidential candidates as racists with diametrcally contradictory standards necessarily demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that Christopher’s grotesque race-mongering is entirely about political opportunism? Is it possible that Tommy Christopher actually believes himself to be a uniquely non-racist white person in a world where being a racist white person is overwhelmingly the norm?
“As a non-racist white guy, I’ve often found myself in the position of racial double-agent, as other white people tend to assume that all white people think the way they do.” – Tommy Christopher, lonely non-racist white guy who tends to assume all white people think in a racist way that he doesn’t (though for a non-racist white guy, Tommy hears an awful lot of racist dog whistle frequencies…hmm).
The record would seem to suggest it’s quite a bit of both, but regardless, Mediaite is employing a political tactician – and a particularly nasty one at that – not the “media correspondent and White House reporter” his own job description suggests. “Reporters” and “correspondents” do not actively support or promote campaigns to attack the advertisers of potential candidates. Christopher’s basketball related racism insinuations about Donald Trump weren’t even his most contrived, dishonest and libelous in that April 27th piece alone.
I initially started looking into writing a follow up post to my post last week when a friend alerted me to the fact that Christopher was actually trying to defend his fabricated account that Trump lavished “praise for Confederate ‘rebels’ as ‘wonderful,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘romantic,’ and ‘great'” on twitter. I figured it was worth a follow-up given that Christopher has rarely seen a phony or staged racial incident he wouldn’t throw his full weight behind, employing all the dishonesty he can muster, even when the rest of the MSM – not to mention the principle inventers of the lie – have the good sense to move on and ignore it as soon as it’s exposed as a fraud.
Long story short, Christopher’s defense was about as bad as you’d expect, but here’s the part of Christopher’s defense that seemed to summarize it:
“Trump says that the Libyans are being portrayed as romantic, wonderful, and great, like the Confederate rebels in Gone With the Wind, but that the Libyan rebels might end up being worse than Mubarek. He never expresses disagreement with the film’s portrayal of the Confederate rebels. They are the exemplar. If you could show me where Trump disavows that film’s portrayal of the Confederates, you would have a point, but he did not.”
Whereas Christopher had falsely published that Trump “praised” the Confederacy in these glorious terms (when in fact Trump was mocking that those terms were being applied to Libyan rebels in the conventional meme), he now argues he was justified because Trump did not explicitly “disavow” the film’s portrayal of Confederate rebels. How do you know he supports the Confederacy? Because he didn’t say he doesn’t.
When I expressed astonishment that Christopher’s and Mediaite’s “reporting” standards allowed him to redefine Trump’s failure to condemn the Confederacy or what it represented in a given sentence as support or “praise” for it, and falsely quote Trump as such, Christopher stopped corresponding with me, and Mediaite Editor Colby Hall explained that it was okay because Chrisopher’s piece was “clearly labeled as a column.”
Except of course it wasn’t labeled a column at all (and it shouldn’t matter where facts are concerned). In fact only two of Christopher’s previous 120 pieces (roughly) were in any way labeled as opinion pieces, and Christopher titles himself “media correspondent and White House reporter for Mediaite.com” with no mention whatsoever that he is really an opinion writer.
Hall explained that this was the result of a “glitch in our system that is not enabling that particular tag.” I take him at his word, but nevertheless, for a blog that claims to make an explicit distinction between “fact” and “opinion,” there is a remarkable continuity between supposedly factual posts and opinion posts. Posts that are not labeled with the “editorialist” banner frequently contain opinions and use the first person voice, and apparently all of their contributors write sometimes as “editorialist” and sometimes as a reporter. And even though Hall asserted that “because Christopher writes with a very strong opinion, nearly every single one of his posts is labeled as such,” he affirmed that he has no concerns whatsoever with Tommy titling himself a “media correspondent and White House reporter for Mediaite.com.”
As for Christopher, he might want to consider whether suggesting an extremely accomplished and dignified woman like Condoleezza Rice engaged in a “slap-fight” with an MSNBC host is really the appropriate “dog whistle” to be blowing while he’s touting his supposed sensitivity to dismissive, bigoted code language.
I would also be curious to know how many of his colleagues at Mediaite are also white racists – especially Matt Schneider, who wondered why Obama never seems as passionate about political issues as basketball. Are he and everyone else at Mediaite among the non-racist white guy minority? Or is Christopher going to condemn Mediaite for giving a platform to Matt Schneider’s racist dog whistling? Is he going to campaign for Mediaite’s sponsors to demand that they drop him?