This morning Linda Milazzo used the bully pulpit of her blog post on The Huffington Post to call out an indignity that should not go unnoticed:
On Friday's Larry King Live show, Republican strategist and owner of The Polling Company, KellyAnne Conway, stated that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were
"arguing about whether she should let him sit on the back of the bus of her presidential ticket."
Even by CNN standards, with its ample chicanery and spin, Conway's remark was brutal. Larry King's nightly program, usually more schmooze than news, was plunged to a Limbaugh-like low.
Milazzo then made note of how Obama supporter, Jamal Simmons, who was also on the program, immediately challenged Conway without sacrificing the moral high ground; but, from my point of view, the more important aspect of her account had to do with King's relative passivity in the face of such offensive linguistic manipulation:
Larry King was clearly disturbed by Conway's 'back of the bus' assault. He asked her if she had actually used the term and what she had meant when she used it. But King's simple question was not a true rebuke. Conway's racism deserved a strong on air condemnation from the host -- not the off-camera chiding that was likely to come. At 74 years old, Larry King should have witnessed the inhumanity and disgrace of Jim Crow throughout his youth and adult years. There was institutionalized racism in Larry King's native New York, and in Florida where he worked early on. White Americans weren't blind to the injustice. They just didn't suffer its pain -- at least not directly.
Actually, King is of an age that should have witnessed enough anti-Semitism to match the level of prevailing racism and may well have experienced it rather than just witnessing it. This would add fuel to Milazzo's fire against his passivity.
Unfortunately, her idea of an active response in this case leaves a bit to be desired:
If you are disturbed and appalled by KellyAnne Conway's racist tactics, please let CNN know. Racism, particularly on the public airwaves, must not be permitted to occur. Call the CNN comments line at: (404) 827-1500 or click here to e-mail the Larry King Live show.
Without trying to sound either defeatist or futilitarian, I have to say that the idea of employing the "usual feedback channels" to either Larry King Live or all of CNN reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Walt Kelly's Pogo: "I'd write a nasty letter to the mayor if he could only read!" Milazzo's strategy is unlikely to lead to anything more than a gratuitous thank-you letter. The only way to protest is in the marketplace. In this case the way to do that would be through a mass boycott of King's program. This would quickly devalue the slots for commercials in his program, and that is the only language that CNN executives understand! (Needless to say, if you can pull that off, think of what you could do for those other CNN broadcasters who claim to offer something more substantive than the sort of schmoozing that draws audiences to King!)