Monday, October 1, 2007

Segregation Redux

Michael Fauntroy has now posted his thoughts on last week's Republican presidential candidate's forum at Morgan State University to his blog on The Huffington Post. Most important was his by-the-numbers account of how this event was covered:

This event was hurt by the absences of the four top-tier candidates. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and former Senator Fred Thompson all cited scheduling conflicts in their decision to skip the forum. That reason flies in the face of the fact that those forum invitations were issued in March. Their absence left a decided lack of electricity from the evening. In some ways it was like watching a concert of preliminary acts with no head liners. The auditorium was about two-thirds full and about 80% of the accredited media did not bother to attend.

I would add to this my own observation that it seems as if those "accredited media" have a tendency to back away from many of the events in which Tavis Smiley plays a major role. Since I no longer spend very much time in my car and even less time with PBS, it seems as if my primary contact with Smiley is through C-SPAN coverage of such events, either directly or through their affiliation with Book TV. The consequence is that, should something arise at one of those events and I want to do a bit of digging before writing, I often have to search frantically for any account on the Web. (Hey, this particular event occurred last Thursday; and Fauntroy's post did not appear until today?)

What is it about Smiley that brings him to the brink (if not over the brink) of untouchability? As either a host or moderator, he tends to be a bit loquacious; but at least he speaks clearly and honors the medieval trivium of logic, grammar, and rhetoric. This leads me to wonder if we are dealing with a willful ignorance of what Smiley has to say that should be added to the list of instances of racial discrimination that I began to compile back in the heady days of the Imus affair. My fear is that the mainstream media looks at Smiley the way Lucy van Pelt used to look at her kid brother Linus, best summarized by the Peanuts strip whose final frame yielded the punch line, "He was beginning to make sense, so I hit him." Is Smiley being penalized by that "American Ruling Class" for making too much sense and, by so doing, threatening their vested interests? I am really not that big on conspiracy theories; but, every time I find yet another candidate (even a potential candidate) to add to my racial-discrimination list, I have to wonder if there is some over-arching causal mechanism behind all the items on the list.

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