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In “Eric Deggans Confirms Own Bias in Race Baiter Part I“, I detailed the premise of Eric Deggans book, Race Baiter: How Media Wields Dangerous Word to Divide a Nation, noting how it was more a treatise on attacking Fox News and Conservatives than an examination on how media affects public discourse. The arguments in the book had holes the size of tunnels. In part II I detail the authors response to questions I had for him during a presentation he gave about his new book.
My first question to Deggans was how he could go after Fox, but leave out MSNBC or other news outlets. His response was MSNBC does not fall into that category because they hired people and focused on a strategy that had helped increase their black viewership 60% in 2012; the implication being that MSNBC was targeting inclusion of blacks and therefore exempt from racism or divisive based journalism. This is a bit of jump in logic, considering most industry insiders know MSNBC has made a decision to be the Liberal network. Therefore, its increase in black viewership is a natural consequence of blacks being Democrats, not a secret plan to target black viewers.
I also challenged his assertion that Gingrich’s comment about President Obama being the “Food Stamp” president was racial code for blacks. Considering that Deggans is well aware that more whites are receiving food stamps and welfare than blacks, any conclusions that Gingrich meant blacks were only a sign of Deggans’ own bias, not Gingrich’s. His response was typical of liberals. He cited a scientific study by Princeton professor Tali Mendelberg that concluded whites more easily associated blacks with welfare than whites. This is a frequent tactic of left leaning writers and commentators. When in doubt, say it has been proved scientifically and therefore cannot be refuted. Ignoring the old adage statistics can be used to prove anything. Yet, if we accept the comments as coded language, what does Deggans call the statement by Obama, “They cling to their guns or religion.” Does he mean Americans who believe in God and have a gun to protect their family? Or does he mean those nasty, mean and bigoted white people?
The back and forth debate between myself and Deggans culminated in his final point of the day. The concept of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when you have a conclusion you believe, but ignore facts that contradict your conclusions. It was an ironic point to end the presentation, considering that all 288 pages of Deggans’ book and the bulk of his presentation was an exercise in confirmation bias.
Absent from his book is any detailed discussion of liberal news sites or other cable networks. Deggans can talk ad nausea about what he considers racist commentary and segments from O’Reilly or Sean Hannity, but where is the discussion about MSNBC’s Perry asking four white guests to tell their favorite racial joke? Can anyone not imagine the hue and cry from the main stream media, starting with Deggans himself, if Hannity had four white males on his show tell racial jokes? How is O’Reilly calling Deggans a race baiter for obsessing over race all the time any different from Deggans, Chris Matthews, or Rachel Maddow calling someone a sexist, and hater of women, because they believe a woman with a job can afford to and should be responsible for paying her own $10, $20, or $30 dollar co-payment for birth control?
Deggans even ignores that the blog post on Fox Nation he was complaining about was actually written by Politico.com, a left leaning news site.
If Deggans wants to write a book attacking Fox news and conservatives he is entitled to that right. He is not, however, entitled to selective outrage. If it is bad or destructive for Fox News, or talk radio to report in a certain way, then it is also wrong for CNN, ABC, MSNBC, etc., to do the same things. Deggans has a journalistic obligation to hold them to the same standard.
This brings us to the crux of the problem with Deggans’ book and liberals generally. They suffer from chronic bouts of intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy. In their world, calling George W. Bush stupid is a statement of fact, but calling Obama stupid is racist. Expecting a man engaging in sexual activity to use his own money to buy condoms as birth control is obvious, but expecting the same responsibility from an adult woman is sexist. Targeting a specific demographic is racist and destructive if the demographic is white men, but targeting the black demographic (if you believe Deggans’ assertion that MSNBC is purposely doing that) is enlightened. And creating a website dedicated to the Hispanic community who may one day be spun out into a dedicated cable news site like Fox News Latino, is to be ignored, because, as you know, Fox only caters to middle, aged white men.
If you are a critic of Fox news then Race Baiter will allow you to confirm your own thoughts about the network. If you were looking for a tome that examines the way media helps to contribute to the hyper partisan divide America is experiencing, then the book is a waste of time. You would be better suited looking for other books, or evening writing one of your own. That is how useful this book by Deggans is on the subject. The problem is not his campaign against Fox or conservatives. It is that Deggans purports his book as something else. A critique on how media is dividing the country, but he does not talk about the media. He talks about what he sees as racial demons at Fox and on the Conservative right, but ignores all-over media and the liberal left.
If that is subject matter you wish to engage in you do not have to fork out thirty bucks for it. You can catch it for free on MSNBC, CNN, the Huffington Post, or any number of other media outlets.
Image credit: Eric Deggans via Facebook