The channel deliberately chose to hide black NFL players protesting police brutality over the weekend, and the reasons are all too clear
Did you notice that during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins firmly raised his fist, as a symbolic gesture of black opposition to various forms of systemic oppression? No? Did you see Rodney McLeod and Chris Long alongside Jenkins in solidarity with the cause in which he is standing for? No? You are not alone. Viewers at home did not see any of this not by accident, but by design.
Fox kept the cameras off of the players, blacking out their protest against racial injustice. While Fox screened an interview before the game with a black player Michael Bennett about why he was protesting, the fact that the network hid the actual protest irked many NFL fans.
I understand that we are talking about the same Fox network, whose earliest successes came via shows like Americas Most Wanted and Cops. Programs that served not only as cheap forms of first generation Reality TV, but they also were highly effective at spreading uncritical narratives of the police as being heroic public servants, that viewers could watch on a weekly basis, cemented as dependable good guys always catching the deviant bad guys.
The birth of Fox network having the power to carve out space to create Fox News was an offshoot of Rupert Murdochs decision to build a television empire around his 1993 $1.6bn purchase of the rights to broadcast the NFLs NFC games from CBS.
Murdoch exclaimed: Were a network now. Like no other sport will do, the NFL will make us into a real network. And Murdoch predicted: In the future there will be 400 or 500 channels on cable, and ratings will be fragmented. But football on Sunday will have the same ratings, regardless of the number of channels. Football will not fragment.
Murdoch wanted a news program that was an answer to the widely viewed CBS program 60 Minutes, and he wanted Foxs hour-length news show to tap into the viewing audience spillover from the NFL football games.
The concept of producing an hour-long news show yielded to the idea of creating an entire cable network a niche news network that targets viewers who feet the rest of the media was too liberal and left leaning. Murdoch wanted to do this right, so he brought in Roger Ailes.
Before his time shaping Fox News as its CEO, Rodger Ailes was a media consultant/political strategist for Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign. We are talking about the same Richard Nixon campaign that saw the, antiwar left and black people, as his enemies.
According to former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, a part of Nixons political strategy was to publicly associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.
Ehrlichman continued by saying, We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
While the commercial shows various men walking in and out of prison, implying that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of not being tough on crime, the goal was to associate Dukakis with Horton, a criminal, leaving Bushs campaign manager Lee Atwater saying: By the time were finished, theyre going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakiss running mate.
Ailes and Bush finished off Dukakis by besmirching the Democratic presidential nominees allegiance to America, by literally magnifying the former Massachusetts governors vetoing of a bill that imposed fines on teachers if they did not lead their classes in the pledge of allegiance.
Dukakis justified his veto on the grounds that the pledge recitation requirement was unconstitutional, violating the teachers first amendment rights, a claim he supported with a Massachusetts supreme court advisory opinion to that effect, and Board of Education v Barnette, a 1943 supreme court case holding that requiring public school students to recite the Pledge violated their right to freedom of expression.
Given this history, I understand all too well why Fox has chosen to blackout the black NFL players protesting police brutality, as well as the white players willing to show solidarity and allyship to their black teammates.
I understand why Fox is unwilling to recognize that NFL players taking a knee, sitting, or raising a fist during the playing of the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner are exercising their first amendment rights. Its impossible not to understand.
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