As the nation's student loan debt burden continues to grow and voters look to 2016 presidential candidates for solutions, right-wing media continue to perpetuate debunked myths about college costs, financial aid, and student loans. Here are the facts that conservative media outlets ignore.
Radio host Michael Berry said "black people don't know how to exist without white people to blame their problems on" and "most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could and never have to see another black person" during a call-in segment on his radio show, which he also used to promote October as "White History Month."
During the October 1 broadcast of his show, Berry asked listeners to call in and list stereotypical things white people like. When one caller said white people "like to talk about black people," Berry responded by describing how blacks and whites talk about one another. "Most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could," said Berry, continuing, "Black people are obsessed with white people... black people don't know how to exist without white people around to blame their problems on."
(CALLER) FELTON: Michael Berry.
BERRY: Go ahead sir.
FELTON: White people like to talk about black people.
BERRY: [laughs] You know I'm going to tell you something, Felton. I don't say this to hurt your feelings, I really don't. But this is the God's honest truth and nobody's ever going to admit this to you. The fact is, most white people -- not all white people - most white people would like to get as far from black people as they possibly could and never have to see another black person, and never have to deal with black-people issues, never need to talk about black people. I'm telling you, Felton - and you don't have to believe this - I'm telling you that if white people are not around black people, they literally never talk about them. I've spent time with both groups and I'll tell you that black people are obsessed with white people and white people simply want to get away. White people go on snow skiing trips to Utah and Colorado and they never see a black person and they don't stand around going, "Boy, I tell you what! Them black people lazy! They lazy and they violent and they try'n a get our womens!" They don't do it. The only time white people talk about black people is because black people cannot let them go. They can't. Black people don't know how to exist without white people around to blame their problems on.
FELTON: That's not true, Michael Berry.
BERRY: Felton, you can't just say, "Nah uh."
FELTON: I don't blame white people for my problems.
BERRY: Well you -- Felton, please don't personalize it. I'm speaking generally in a sagacious way about social tendencies.
BERRY: So don't take it the wrong way. It isn't that white people don't like you or other black people. It's just, white people have other things they're worried about. You know, how to get their, you know, next latte or smoothie or, you know, stuff like that. You know that's really what white people are -- that's what they really, really care about.
FELTON: Hey, I like lattes and smoothies.
Berry kicked off the show by talking about "White History Month," which he said non-white people should celebrate by wishing white people "Happy White History Month." He then extolled all the things white people have done for society and compared the month to a "Jewish holiday":
BERRY: Every year at this time, I will be approached in person, on email, by folks who are not white. And they will say, 'What do I say to you people? Should I, you know, should I recognize it or is this just something ya'll do internally? I want to participate, I want ya'll to know that I, you know, I'm proud for ya'll, that ya'll too have a history that you can be proud of and that ya'll have done some things too.'
And I always say, do what comes naturally. White people are naturally excited about "White History Month," but they're probably not going to mention it publicly, unfortunately, because they don't know who all knows and they don't want to seem self-centered or too absorbed, narcissistic. So the proper thing to do is, for those of you who are not white but you say, you know what I want -- you want to encourage multiculturalism and include the white people in what you're doing, and let them celebrate, you know, their unique special identity and some of the contributions their people, the white people, have made to society. The right thing to do is simply to approach them and say, 'Happy White History Month.'
People often ask, 'What is the proper greeting for White History Month?' And it's simple, it's just -- it's like Easter. Just, 'Happy White History Month.' You can add anything you'd like to that. A nice line for a lot of white people, if you're not white, is to say, 'Happy White History Month. You know I was doing some reading on the Michael Berry Show website and I didn't realize white people had done so much. I was, I was really impressed, I mean, you should be proud.'
And you will notice their countenance will change and they will smile and it's like, you know, it's like it used to be for somebody who came to this country from Vietnam. You know, they didn't, you didn't know much about it and then everybody started saying 'pho' and so they could feel proud of what they grew up eating, and were ashamed of it, and now they realized they could be proud of that.
So, over the course of the coming month, we will assist those of you who are not white in how best to celebrate. It's like a Jewish holiday. It's happening all around you but you're really not sure why, you don't quite know the history and 'what is this Seder stuff and Passover and what does all this mean?' We're here to help you and to celebrate. And to all of -- some of you out there are white, to all of you we offer you our heartfelt greetings, "Happy White History Month." And we will have various forms of celebration over the coming month. But of course we know you'll be having your own private celebrations and this is a time of mirth and merriment amongst the white people in this country and their community. An opportunity to really celebrate and educate young white people that their people have also made contributions to world society and entrepreneurism and sport and culture and language and science and mathematics and engineering and technology. White people have actually been involved in some of these things, too. And so it's a great opportunity for us every year to learn a little bit about white people and to kind of take a moment from the greater whole and just set aside a moment to celebrate our history as white people.
Berry has a long history of making racially-charged comments and currently has a recurring segment on his show devoted to mocking minority victims of gun violence. Berry has said he is "proud" of the segment in comments on social media, praising its "awesomess" (sic).
In addition to mocking black victims of violence and making inflammatory race-based statements, Berry also likes to talk politics on his show. He recently hosted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a friend "for over 10 years," according to Berry, who introduced Cruz to the crowd at his 2012 Senate primary campaign victory party.
The president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) lashed out at The Washington Post for exposing his organization's oil industry funding, baselessly describing a Post article about the group's anti-environmental agenda as "[l]ies, innuendos and false claims."
The Post recently helped pull back the curtain on the NBCC's fossil fuel-friendly agenda. In a September 28 article, The Post reported that the NBCC has been fighting an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce ground-level ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, and also noted that the NBCC is heavily funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel interests. The NBCC has been fighting air pollution standards and climate change action for decades.
NBCC president Harry Alford decried the Washington Post article in a column on his organization's website, titled "Environmental Extremists seem to be going cuckoo." Without identifying any specific errors in the Post article, Alford wrote that that it contained "[l]ies, innuendos and false claims" and "misinformation about the National Black Chamber of Commerce." He also described the Post article as "incomplete reporting, replete with racial innuendos," but failed to elaborate.
From Alford's post on the NBCC website:
Just this week, the super liberals put out misinformation about the National Black Chamber of Commerce via the Washington Post newspaper. Lies, innuendos and false claims. The reporting was less than professional and we attempted to explain the misrepresentations to their Ombudsman. To our surprise, the Post doesn't have an Ombudsman to whom readers can go to correct inaccuracies. They even claim one of the "gotcha" men stalking me with a camera is a "writer". Just a few years ago he was in security at the Detroit Westin Hotel. Give me a break! The others they quoted also have hidden agendas.
The misinformation articles, the lies and stalking us around the country are flattering. But we didn't become the number one Black business association in the world by being timid. There are a lot of "broke face" governors, senators, congresspersons and corporate CEO's who have learned this the hard way. We got a big laugh from the incomplete reporting, replete with racial innuendos. As my late mentor, Arthur A. Fletcher, once told me, "When you get on the front page of the Post you are in Tall Cotton and that ain't bad. The fact is they are fearing your movement and your side is apparently winning."
The truth always wins eventually.
In response to reports of gun violence in Chicago, Houston-based radio host Michael Berry has devoted a weekly segment on his show to reading off victims' names and mocking their injuries and deaths, in an attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.
Fox's Anna Kooiman reported that Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teenager arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school, "might not be as innocent as he seems." After Mohamed's arrest, right-wing media jumped to blame the teen, ignoring the role Islamophobia may have played in the situation. Referring to a Dallas Morning News article that provided some background on Mohamed's personality and previous experiences in the school district, including his relationships with teachers, history of playing pranks, and experiences with bullying, Kooiman claimed the teen "may not be as innocent as he seems," evidencing her claim by pointing to a story about the teen "blowing bubbles in the bathroom." From the September 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush recently claimed that Democrats use the promise of "free stuff" to court black voters, echoing years of dubious claims by conservative media that government assistance programs exist to "buy votes."
The Washington Post is helping pull back the curtain on the National Black Chamber of Commerce's (NBCC) oil industry-funded campaign against environmental safeguards.
In a September 28 article, The Post explained that the NBCC is engaged in a "subtle effort ... to reduce support for [environmental] regulations among blacks, Latinos and even the elderly -- groups not usually regarded as natural allies for corporations fighting air-pollution laws." The Post noted that the NBCC has been heavily funded by Exxon Mobil, and that the list of sponsors for NBCC's 2015 national conference "included a number of major fossil-fuel interests, including Koch Industries, owned by oil magnates and conservative activists Charles and David Koch," adding: "Such donations make up as much as 80 percent of the group's revenue in some years, tax records show, and the NBCC has channeled its money into causes that favor fossil-fuel interests."
While the Post article focused on NBCC's work to undermine Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to reduce harmful ozone pollution, the NBCC has also produced a discredited study about the EPA's climate change plan, which establishes the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. NBCC President Harry Alford has used the NBCC study to attack the EPA climate plan in congressional testimony and a series of deceptive op-eds.
From The Washington Post:
Since early summer, Alford has delivered the same pitch in multiple cities, blasting a plan to impose limits on ozone, a pollutant that contributes to urban smog and aggravates breathing disorders, particularly among the elderly and very young.
Alford's message -- that the proposed regulations would hurt the economy and stifle job growth -- is nearly identical to the one being broadcast widely by the rules' opponents from business and industry. The National Association of Manufacturers has poured millions of dollars into a television ad campaign criticizing the proposal, which the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to adopt in final form Wednesday.
But while the TV ads command the most attention, a more subtle effort is underway to reduce support for the regulations among blacks, Latinos and even the elderly -- groups not usually regarded as natural allies for corporations fighting air-pollution laws.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce, which acknowledges receiving strong financial backing from Exxon Mobil and other fossil-fuel interests, has specifically tailored its message to African American audiences, drawing anger from environmental and public health groups that say urban blacks would be among the biggest beneficiaries of tighter regulations.
"The dirtiest utility plants pollute and hurt black communities," said Evlondo Cooper, a researcher for the Checks and Balances Project, a watchdog group that investigates the use of corporate money in anti-clean-energy campaigns. Cooper, whose nonprofit organization has staged videotaped confrontations with Alford at two of his recent speaking events, said groups such as the NBCC have helped foster perceptions of a sharp divide among African Americans over whether stronger air-quality laws are needed.
"He doesn't speak for black people," Cooper said, referring to Alford, "and nothing about his support for the fossil-fuel lobby or his attacks on clean energy has been helpful to our community."
In his frequent essays and blog postings, Alford has referred to the EPA as "wicked' and a "monster" that is "out of control." He flatly dismisses the notion of environmental justice -- the idea that minorities suffer unfairly from pollution -- as a "farce."
"Many naive blacks have bought the lie -- hook, line and sinker," he says.
Alford's organization declines to give detailed information about the NBCC's membership or sources of income, although records filed by the group show more than $800,000 in contributions over the past decade from Exxon Mobil. At the group's 2015 national conference in August, a list of sponsors given to attendees included a number of major fossil-fuel interests, including Koch Industries, owned by oil magnates and conservative activists Charles and David Koch.
Such donations make up as much as 80 percent of the group's revenue in some years, tax records show, and the NBCC has channeled its money into causes that favor fossil-fuel interests. For example, the NBCC, gave $50,000 last year to a Florida organization that sought to impose additional costs and restrictions on homeowners who want to install solar panels on their roofs.
[Alford's] stances have angered not only environmental groups but also other African American business organizations, which say Alford's views represent at best a small fraction of black business owners and entrepreneurs. Ron Busby, president of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, a rival group, said internal surveys have consistently shown high levels of support among his group's members for strong environmental regulations.
"As a child I had asthma, and I remember my parents saying it was a black disease, because that's what we thought, growing up," Busby said. "Anyone who's saying it's not affecting our community isn't speaking on behalf of black people."
Image at top via Flickr user House GOP using a Creative Commons License.
From the September 28 edition of CNN's New Day:
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From the September 27 edition of HBO's Last Week Tonight:
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Host Megyn Kelly and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich blamed only Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for pushing the claim that Hillary Clinton "was the original ... birther," but in recent days, several Fox hosts and contributors, including Kelly herself, blamed Clinton and her 2008 presidential campaign for starting rumors that President Obama was not born in America. Fox News also, over the course of several weeks, aired dozens of segments pushing Trump's birther campaign in 2011. From the September 24 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Media outlets and fact-checkers are calling out the myth that Hillary Clinton started the "birther" smear that President Obama was not born in the United States and was thus ineligible for the presidency, but Fox News has continued to run with the debunked claim.
From the September 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News rushed to aid Ben Carson in spinning his controversial comments that a Muslim should not be president after the Republican presidential candidate came under widespread scrutiny for his remarks, claiming he was really talking about supposed adherents of Sharia law and not all American Muslims.
Conservative media figures rallied to the defense of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speculating that the attendee who posed a racially charged question at a New Hampshire campaign event was a plant, not an actual supporter.
From the September 18 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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