Would the New York Times be outraged by a black mayor being elected to lead a predominantly white city?
In a front-page article Monday, “Mostly Black Cities, Mostly White City Halls,” the Gray Lady presents the persistence of white political leadership in Southern cities as a pressing political problem. The context is the recent racial tension in Ferguson, MO–a grievance President Barack Obama himself took to the UN last week.
The fact that white political leaders might represent, or be supported by, black constituents was not previously an issue for the Times–certainly not when Bill Clinton, a white Southern Democrat, emerged as the so-called “first black president,” or when he planted his foundation’s office in Harlem in his post-presidential years. In fact, the only time the issue came up is when Democrat rivals used antisemitic rhetoric against Rep. Steve Cohen, a white Jewish Democrat whose district in Tennessee happens to include a majority of black voters.
The Times is not concerned with such cases, in which the behavior of a few opportunistic opponents, not the conduct of those in office, is the problem. Like Al Sharpton, who parachuted into Ferguson and castigated locals for not voting in recent elections, the Times takes for granted the contention that white officials in largely black cities deserve closer scrutiny. (The article does include some contrary views from some local black residents.)
As radio host Larry Elder–a black conservative living in Compton, Los Angeles–has pointed out, the media have no interest in demographic changes when growing populations of Latino immigrants are still represented by black politicians who came of age in an earlier era, and came to power with the Democratic Party machine.
Indeed, in Illinois, it took Republicans to challenge the state’s new congressional district map (unsuccessfully), when Democrats froze out Hispanic voters by denying them a second “majority-minority” district, changing the boundaries instead to target the cohort of Tea Party-backed freshmen who were elected in the wave election of 2010, and leaving Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) as the nation’s predominant Hispanic political gatekeeper.
The Times article is a reminder that media bias is often not a matter of individual facts in individual articles, or whether all sides of an issue have been given a voice. Rather, bias emerges in story selection itself, and in story placement.
In this case, the Times–like the Democratic Party–has a stake in reinforcing racial tension as a force in national politics, fifty years after the civil rights movement change America forever, and for the better.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the forthcoming ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak