Overwhelmingly White Media Criticize Conservative Rallies as 'Overwhelmingly White'
By Nathan Burchfiel (Bio | Archive)
Tue, 08/31/2010 - 08:47 ET
If you thought media coverage of the Aug. 28 "Restoring Honor" rally hosted in Washington D.C. by Fox News host Glenn Beck seemed like just another attack on conservatives, you're not alone. As noted by the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher, much of the coverage had a common thread: describing the crowd as "overwhelmingly white."
While the term was certainly used in coverage of Beck's rally, it's not a new label. "Overwhelmingly white" is a prime example of the media's groupthink on Beck, Tea Parties, and the conservative movement in general. Virtually every major "mainstream" media outlet has used the phrase in just the past year to describe conservative events.
But even as the media criticize Tea Party and other conservative rallies for an apparent lack of diversity, they struggle to bring minority voices into their own operations.
All three broadcast networks have described the Tea Parties as "overwhelmingly white." So have CNN, MSNBC, NPR, the Agence France Presse, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Journal and US News & World Report. Many of those organizations are the very ones the news industry discusses as having failed to make diversity goals for staff.
Here are a few examples.
"The crowds turning out for the Tea Party Express rallies are overwhelmingly white." - Ed Lavandera, CNN "American Morning" March 31, 2010.
"The crowd is still overwhelmingly white." - Jessica Yellin, CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" April 15, 2010.
"The crowd that greeted Palin did nothing to contradict the common description of Tea Party supporters as overwhelmingly white and mostly older." - Ina Jaffe, NPR "Weekend Edition Sunday" March 28, 2010.
"They are overwhelmingly white and Anglo ..." - USA Today July 2, 2010.
That doesn't take into account other ways to say the same thing. In coverage of Beck's rally, some outlets opted for the less aggressive "predominantly white" label, while others described the crowd as "nearly all-white."
As Brad Wilmouth reported on NewsBusters, ABC's Tahman Bradley called the crowd "almost all white," and suggested that presence of Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Dr. Alveda King, as a speaker was "an obvious effort to try to show inclusion."
The charge leveled at conservative demonstrators is especially ironic given the accusers. The media are notoriously "overwhelmingly white." The American Society of Newspaper Editors reported in April 2010 that minorities total only 13.26 percent of newsroom staff, a decline from the previous year. The report found 465 newspapers have no minorities on their full-time staffs, a number that "has been growing since 2006."