The Washington Post

Juan Williams, Fox News guy: The contradictions!

You have to wonder how Juan Williams self-justifies his life as a Fox News analyst. In an opinion piece that ran yesterday in The Hill, Williams attacked those who use code words to (barely) mask racial rhetoric:

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”

Williams might as well have served those lines with a side of fries to the hungry Fox watchers at Media Matters of America. In an extensive post, the conservative media monitors showed how those nasty and underhanded terms get quite a workout on Williams’ own cable TV network, Fox News.

Food stamp president? Yes, that’s a line that’s been swallowed whole at the network. Same for the rhetoric against the “entitlement society” as well as all kinds of coded blather about illegal immigrants. Media Matters dredges up a wealth of such iterations, many of them from very recent history, yielding the impression that when Fox commentators get an opportunity to drop a boot on the poor or the underprivileged, they tend not to pass it up.

Fox contributor Bernard Goldberg in December captured the philosophical inspiration for this strain of commentary. He was talking about ProPublica, the highly regarded nonprofit news outfit dedicated to exposing the “exploitation of the weak by the strong.” That orientation irked Goldberg (see above video, at 4:55), who argued, “Every now and then, Bill, the weak are wrong and the strong are right.” That’s a little wordy to replace “fair and balanced,” but it’s pretty good stuff.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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