The Rise and Ongoing Demise of Black Neo-Liberal Media Personalities
Let me begin by telling you that I first considered writing this particular article a few months ago. However, I decided against doing so at that time because its conclusions would have been seen as controversial- even by the standards of what I usually write about. The social media environment at that time was, also, especially toxic for posts like this one. Since then, things have gotten a bit more normal and the major controversial prediction in the current post is starting to come true.
So what series of events inspired me to consider writing this post in the first place? Well.. there have been many over the years, but one set stand out. Many of you might recall that in 2016, a then largely unknown senator from Vermont known as Bernie Sanders came very close to becoming the democratic party’s candidate for president. Were it not for the democratic party establishment (especially the DNC) rigging the democratic primary in favor of HRC, he would have been the democratic nominee and almost certainly won the 2016 presidential election.
The subsequent mistreatment of Bernie supporters by the democratic party establishment combined with Wikileaks exposing the democratic establishment conspiracy against him almost certainly made enough potential democratic voters stay home (especially in the Midwest) resulting in Trump winning those states and the electoral college in the presidential election. Now many partisan democratic voters, especially of the astroturf type, still maintain that Bernie would have lost against Trump in the general election. While I would like to destroy the many versions of that particular myth, doing so is best left for another day and post.
This post shall instead focus on the identity and motivations of one specific subset of media personalities pushing various versions of that argument. I am talking about black media personalities- both in traditional media as well as “new” media. To be clear- the loudest pushers of this myth have always been white establishment democratic operatives. Having said that, it is also fair to point out that many black media personalities were also very active in pushing this myth- and some are still busy doing so.
It is no secret that some of the most public critics of Bernie Sander’s candidacy were black. Most of you have heard names such as Joy-Ann Reid, Jamelle Bouie and Don Lemon or pseudo-journalists such as Donna Brazile. But perhaps more interesting was the unusual prominence of certain black print journalists and new “media” types such as Yamiche Alcindor, Imani Gandy, Marcus H. Johnson and a number of black bloggers who wrote anti-Bernie sanders hit pieces for a wide variety of online media outlets.
I initially considered the possibility that all of this negative reaction to Bernie’s candidacy by black media personalities was due to latent antisemitism with certain parts of that community. I have heard more than a couple black comedians remark that Bernie reminded them of their (Jewish) landlord. However reading the contents of these increasingly numerous hit pieces made me consider a different possibility- namely that is was due to greed rather than simple antisemitism. Here is why..
Firstly, almost every single black media personality who criticized the Sanders candidacy was also full of effusive praise and unconditional support for HRC. It is well-known that the ‘get-tough-on-crime’ policies of her husband (Bill Clinton) resulted in the single largest increase in rates of incarceration for the black community. His other trademark policies, from ‘welfare reform’ to ‘free trade’ also caused disproportionate damage to the black community. Moreover, all of this occurred during the 1990s- less than 20 years ago. So you can see why all of that praise and support for HRC by black media personalities (who criticized Sanders) sounded so.. odd.
Secondly, the general themes for criticism of Sanders by different black media personalities (at any given time) were almost identical. Even more telling, the shift in themes for such critiques changed almost simultaneously across multiple media platforms. It was as if they were on the same mailing lists. The criticisms leveled against Sanders were also peculiar. They ranged from outright lies and misrepresentations to saying that he only represented the white working class to a lot of academic sounding bullshit talk about ‘intersectionality’. It was almost as if all these black media personalities were parroting talking points written up by people working from a certain office in Brooklyn.
But why were they doing that? Why were so many black media personalities (especially of the ‘new media’ kind) so enthusiastic about supporting a candidate as untrustworthy and reviled as HRC?
Now.. I am sure that a few well-known black media personalities were financially (and otherwise) compensated for their efforts by the HRC campaign. However it appears that the vast majority of ‘new media’ types did not receive any worthwhile financial compensation for their efforts. So why did they do it? What was their motivation? Some of you might think they did so due to group-think or personal stupidity. I think otherwise. While the willingness of people to work for free might seem irrational to most people- it is not so to those who actually believe in neo-liberalism.
Neo-liberal ideology, you see, is like a religion- albeit a secular one. And like all other religions and ideologies, it is a pyramid scheme requiring an endless supply of suckers willing to slave for others so that they may, one day, have the chance to do the same to other newer suckers. Isn’t that why so many white university-educated “millennials” slave away in long and unpaid internships at otherwise profitable corporations? Or consider the number of young, and largely white, people who try their luck in the entertainment industry each year. My point is that actions of black media personalities who dissed Sanders and cheered on HRC during the democratic primary make sense if you assume that they are true believers in the neoliberal way.
Some of you might say.. So what? Aren’t all these black media personalities just doing what their white counterparts have been doing for much longer?
Well.. it is true that black media personalities who shill for rich white oligarchs are just following the footsteps of their white counterparts. Also, I am not suggesting that members of one ethnic group should hold itself to higher standards than those of another ethic group. My critique is that black media personalities who shill for rich white oligarchs are not getting remunerated for their work at rates approaching their white counterparts. Furthermore- white media shills.. I mean media personalities, seem to be far more successful at turning their poorly paid shill gigs into reasonably OK, if mediocre, careers. Black media personalities, on the other hand, can seldom transform their sucking up to the elite into decent careers.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with their relative competence. But it has everything to do with how the democratic establishment sees black people- even those who help them win elections. As far as the democratic establishment is concerned, blacks exist largely to vote for them in elections and thereby make them look better than republicans- at least to themselves. Once the elections are over, they see blacks as a group to be aggressively policed, heavily incarcerated and otherwise ignored. There is a reason that cops legally murder as many black men in states and cities governed by the democratic party as its republican equivalent. That is also why democrats talk a lot suppression of black voters by republicans but do precious little to fix it.
I am guessing that the rise of Obama during the previous eight years might have provided some false hope to aspiring social climbers in the black community. It is likely that many of them believed that towing the establishment neoliberal line would translate into a decent chance at getting the kinds of gigs and careers that their white counterparts used to get. Well.. that is definitely not going to happen now as HRC lost the election. But I think it would not have occurred even if she had won the election as throwing average black supporters under the bus after the elections is second nature to the Clinton family and the democratic party establishment.
What do you think? Comments?