New Black Panthers, Old-School Battleground
It’s not every day that commentators Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, Juan Williams of Fox News and NPR, Errol Louis of the New York Daily News, Roland Martin of CNN and TV One, and the editorial pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are in agreement.
And that such agreement stands in contrast to the views expressed by Fox News Channel and its commentators Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and by Armstrong Williams, the Washington Times, the National Review and others in the conservative blogosphere.
Such is the case in the controversy over whether a fringe group called the New Black Panther Party is the beneficiary of racial solidarity from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. as the group allegedly sought to escape responsibility for supposedly intimidating black voters in Philadelphia nearly two years ago.
The first group of commentators says the allegation is absurd at best, and at the very least, blown out of proportion. The latter group says the charges are valid and demand more media attention.
The second group is winning.
Attention in the mainstream media, which in conventional wisdom was all but consigned to irrelevancy with the age of the Internet, is again a coveted prize, seemingly to be won by any means necessary.
Who gets to decide what is news? Who gets to drive the agenda?
On Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander noted that the Post had written only one story late in the game on the controversy. “Why the silence from The Post on Black Panther Party story?” the headline on his column asked.
“The Post should never base coverage decisions on ideology, nor should it feel obligated to order stories simply because of blogosphere chatter from the right or the left,” he wrote.