20 Apr, 2021

The role of the American media in promoting or exposing racist behavior

Historically, the news media has been the main driver in fueling racism and prejudice in America. That is ignored for political reasons.  It is not comforting to admit that most racism in America is fueled by the media that are relied upon to promote hostilities even though they act as they struggle racism and discrimination.

The media in the United States is divided into two parts: mainstream corporate media, and alternative or parallel media.  The first is owned by companies and the second is owned by the general public, whether organized or independent, and it is very similar to social media.  Parallel media is full of websites, podcasts, electronic newspapers, and what can be published online.

There are six giant media companies that control the American media, and they are empires that promote not only at the state level, social media, newspapers or magazines, but also a clear speech and they serve specific interests of the companies that express them, which leads to the dedication of supremacy to these companies and to the white element.  The most important of them are:

  1. - Times Warner owns CNN

  2. Disney owns ABC

  1. Murdoch Group (News Corp.) - owns Fox News

  2. General Electric owns WRGB

  3. Comcast - owns NBC

  4. Viacom

There are five major newspapers outside the "dominant media" group: The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Redstone group which owns or controls the video games, is added to this list.  This section of the media covered the protests from the first moments and encouraged demonstrations in order to control the narrative that accompanies the protest, and to employ these protests in the campaign against Donald Trump since the first moment of his presidency.

The “dominant media” category was divided into two parts: the first one which can be called liberal media and its symbol is CNN, was supporting the protests and employing them against the Trump administration, while the second one which is conservative media and its symbol is Fox, was denouncing the demonstrations, violence and riots that destroy property and attack citizens. Historically, these two parts have common views that marginalize the core issues of concern to Americans, and promote that diverts attention to more exciting issues without affecting the essence of the system’s structure.

For example, the focus in the liberal media was on the police attack on the protesters, while the conservative media focused on the devastation caused by the protests.  The liberal media promoted the narrative of rampant racism in the security forces, linking it to Trump's statements that fuel sectarian strife, while conservative media linked violence with crime and left-wing extremist movements.  The liberal media did not mention the complicity of some security officials in burning the buildings, while the right-wing media focused on them, and therefore there was not a single image in covering the protests.

In the last year of Trump's judgement, American media attacks increased in general against "traditional enemies": minorities, Muslims, Arabs, Palestine, the Third World, blacks, Spaniards and Asians.  The media is working to nurture racism and blind intolerance by adopting stereotypes and producing "news" that reinforces the public's fears about the previous groups. Blacks, Spaniards and Asians have gathered to repel media bias through several organizations.

In the recent racist incidents, the US media tried to adjust their narratives from the police perspective and focus on destroying public property and looting shops in order to justify violent police treatment and prevent the spread of gatherings.  As protests intensified against the systematic racism and brutality of the US police against blacks and people of color, most of the media covered the protests by focusing on: the demolition of public property at the weekend after a peaceful gathering of tens of thousands, and this was reflected in many publications and television networks.

It was clear in the American media and its coverage of the protests that the protests' socio-economic dimension was absent.  Even for racism, these methods confined themselves to denouncing without a serious approach to their historical roots and their impact on the behavior of American society.  Perhaps the roots approach embarrasses the ruling elites and the companies that have grown up on the ruins of the exterminated indigenous people, the racist religious culture that imprinted the ruling elites, and the import of slaves from Africa.

Protests in the awareness of American media companies are an opportunity for more wealth, and their continued sponsorship may afflict two birds with one stone: controlling narrative and not crossing red lines, and materialistic benefit in many ways, including polishing their social image through verbal support for the protests, including direct benefit from the sabotage that will follow constructions.  and “social programs” need subsidized investments.

What the analytical studies revealed is that there is a discrepancy in the portrayal of race / ethnicity in the American media, depending on the group, the medium, and the gender.  While blacks have achieved a degree of parity when it comes to the amount of pictures on TV at prime times, there is variation in quality depending on gender, and we have not seen the same progress for blacks in news, movies, and across other media platforms.

For Hispanics, little has changed over the decades when it comes to digital representation in the media. For image quality, even though some of the more egregious media stereotypes have faded away, other long-standing media definitions for Latinos remain constant.  Within these rare images, a restricted set of descriptions often prevail, such as: spiritual American Indians, tech-savvy Asian Americans, and terrorist Muslims.

Quantitative analyzes of content over decades reveal that representations of race and ethnicity across American media offer little in the way of equitable portrayals of racial / ethnic minorities.  What has been found is that racial / ethnic groups are underrepresented in the media compared to their proportions in the US population.

What is striking about the coverage of recent events is the correlation of the Corona pandemic and the measures to combat it, which led to the suspension of the economic wheel with the protest movement against racism, then linked the economic and social repercussions of Corona with the protests.  This matter is not strange to the "hegemonic media" which is keen to avoid what might provoke any controversy or review in the structure of the economic and political system, especially with regard to the economic gaps between the components of the American people.  This media is content with focusing on the cultural dimension of the protests, in order to avoid discussing the class dimension.

The language used in the American media, directly and indirectly, perpetuates racism and the supremacy of the white race.  Example: In real estate, the word Master bedroom is used, an idea that belongs to the master and slave in the history of American slavery, but the word Primary bedroom must be used, or for example the term Black List.  It also promotes a stereotype of black people as criminals, and those of Hispanic origin are presented as drug dealers, and Arabs and Muslims are terrorism ... and this is all even before the events of September 11th.

Another remarkable thing about the media coverage of the "dominant media" is the selectivity in focusing on the symbols of enslavement of Africans.  The media was not afraid to refer to the founding fathers of the American state, such as Washington and Jefferson (for example), but it did not make a single reference to the major importers of slaves, such as Judah Benjamin in the nineteenth century.  His tomb has not been attacked and vandalized, while statues of United States’ symbols have been defaced or burned.  Is his affiliation with the Jewish religion a red line in that media?

Among the slogans raised by some groups protesting against racism, "undermining the police" and even "stopping funding for the police" (defund the police).  The dominant media reported those slogans as if it supported them, which re-raises the question: Is it intended to privatize security through private security companies?  This is what pleases the major companies that want a security system which works for them only and is not subject to considerations such as justice and the protection of citizens ...

The American media is deliberately excluding Arab voices and protecting the partisan nature of pro-Israel.  Although there are more than 10,000 journalists working for news organizations in all states, there are only about 100 full-time Arab Americans in journalistic positions, and most of them are barred from reporting on Arab and Muslim American issues.  The media limit writing opinion articles or columns to non-Arabs and allow them to criticize unrestricted and uncensored Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians, especially those who support Israel.