If ever you doubted the existence of media bias…

Say “motherfucker” once, and the media melts down; but when a representative announces his allegiance to racist white supremacy, it’s business as usual.

I tried to rationalize this. Maybe “motherfucker” is more sound-bitey? But it’s also kind of generic, and lots of people have said far worse about various politicians. And you would think that a politician openly embracing a racist ideology would be far more newsworthy and would inspire a lot more discussion than a profanity, about which you really can’t say a whole lot.

I think it means the media, and our country, takes racism for granted. Add to that fact that Rashida Tlaib’s exclamation was an opportunity to exercise that racism by bashing a brown woman, and I think we’ve got the root cause of the discrepancy thoroughly covered.


  1. hemidactylus says

    Wow even leftie MSNBC?

    I wonder what content analysis would reveal in CNN and MSNBC coverage of Tlaib’s “impeach the motherfucker”. Was the coverage by those two networks mostly negative or positive? I could see sympathetic liberals wanting to stir the pot on Trump’s shenanigans and maybe embrace Tlaib’s comment at least implicitly as a breath of fresh air or shot across the congressional bow. It’s reminiscent of Rambo’s “Murdoch…I’m coming to get YOU!!!”.


  2. imback says

    Indeed there is racist media bias. But there is also media bias toward distraction by the bright shiny object. King is dull not bright. Shiny object bias leads media to such decisions as to not cover climate change because they just covered it last year.

  3. says

    But you’re just echoing the problem. Flaming outspoken racist in high office ought to be a blindingly bright shiny object to draw the focus of the media. Why isn’t it? Because the media takes racism for granted.

  4. lanir says

    Don’t assume MSNBC is giving positive coverage. Even if they cover democrats more positively in general, Tlaib is a part of an internal progressive faction that is deeply unsettling to the democratic establishment. MSNBC is still corporate media and so firmly on the side of the establishment. Which really doesn’t have much use for progressives after November.

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 1:
    at least MSNBC gave the most time, of the 3 networks, about King, and the least time of the 3 about Tlaib.
    I’d also like to emphasize how little time Fux News discussed King’s racism^1,
    I do think it is unfair to plot these two trends combined. I think it better to seperate them into two graphs, one per subject, comparing the outlets against each other, instead of comparing the subjects to each other. ………………………………………………………………..
    1 – 42 seconds,( odd occurrence of that particular number if you know what I mean. I’m sure you do. )
    thank you for reading my anti(Fux News) bias. I only see these charts as highlighting how awful F.N. is.
    thank you.

  6. imback says

    By now we all should take for granted that King is a racist. He’s said this kind of thing often enough, and some media have covered it. The core issue for me isn’t that some individuals say racist stuff; it’s that we have racism embedded in our institutions. Most media don’t cover that well because of the lack of sound bites.

  7. says

    PZ wrote, “Flaming outspoken racist in high office ought to be a blindingly bright shiny object to draw the focus of the media. Why isn’t it? Because the media takes racism for granted.”

    Well yes, we all do. It’s a stone fact. There are actually lots of racists in political office. After you’ve reported that King made those remarks, you’ve covered the news. What else is there to say? He’s made lots of similar remarks, they got reported. Then the voters reelected him. They like that about him. Having CNN and MSNBC announce every half hour that “Steven King is a racist” isn’t going to accomplish anything. I agree there’s no reason to dwell on Tlaib saying motherfucker either, although it is at least novel for a member of congress to use that word in public.

    If the news networks were to do a deep dive long form story on racism in politics that might be helpful. But again, running three stories above the fold every time King opens his mouth is not really the solution to anything. If the constituents of other House Republicans were to demand that the House censure him that might be a good response.

  8. says

    But they reported Tlaib saying “motherfucker” over and over. And one property of the 24 hour news networks is that they run everything into the ground with endless repetition and pointless coverage of trivia.

  9. stroppy says

    Well, if I recall from the Nixon era, some people were more offended by Nixon’s expletives than his criminal activity.

    It’s all about teh Imperious an teh Uppity.

  10. stroppy says

    Re #10 above: IOW, Nixon crossed a line when he stooped to act like an uppity person. Punctured a faulty illusion. Nowadays Republicans have unearned victimhood so they can be both uppity and imperious — the snottier the better, in fact.

    The media is packed with lazy stenographers and toads looking for any cheap thrills that will appease and sell eyeballs to advertisers.

  11. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re MSNBC:
    My experience with this network is almost exclusively Rachel Maddow (TRMS). She usually covers subjects such as King with, what’s known as “deep reporting”. Not simply repeating the soundbite continually, she would introduce him with his history of similar remarks, to paint a full picture of King’s racism, and not simply a cardboard cutout (so to speak).
    Similarly, with Tailb, I doubt she would focus solely of the <redacted> word, rather on the first phrase, “Impeach the <redacted> “, spending lots of time replaying the entire remark to emphasis the word I bolded.
    there’s my bias: thank you for reading my apologia

  12. patricklinnen says

    stroppy @11
    Except for the time, uppity Nixon was not an outlier. See uppity LBJ.

    I do not really remember coverage about uppity Reagan or HW Bush. But compare media coverage of uppity Clinton and uppity Obama to uppity W Bush. Clinton and Obama could just stand and breath while pundits / commentators in ‘liberal media’ would be outraged. Meanwhile, “Turd Blossom” anyone?

  13. gijoel says

    They shouldn’t be trying to impeach the motherfucker.

    They should hang the motherfucker.

  14. codeslinger2001 says

    In 2013 Obama signed a law making it expressly legal for the US media to broadcast pure propaganda, explicitly ending any expectation that the US media would be unbiased.

    Did everyone miss this?

  15. stroppy says

    @ 16

    Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. One of those innocuous little stories that fly under the radar: Let government outlets like the VOA broadcast domestically. Sounds like a recipe for self-inflicted blow back, but hey, what could go wrong, right?

  16. John Morales says


    In 2013 Obama signed a law making it expressly legal for the US media to broadcast pure propaganda, explicitly ending any expectation that the US media would be unbiased.

    Did everyone miss this?

    So what? Whether or not it’s legal, you’re not disputing that it’s biased. All you’re claiming is that it is now legal.

  17. Mark Plus says

    White nationalists are the only people in the country willing to look out for the interest of vulnerable white Americans like PZ’s granddaughter. And someone has to, because PZ has made a career out of abdicating that responsibility.

  18. Rowan vet-tech says

    So… white people like me are vulnerable… how exactly? What am I in danger of? Seeing not-white people regularly? Having to interact with not-white people regularly? Maybe realizing that white people are not better than not-white people? What are my interests supposed to be exactly, that need looking out for?

  19. says

    Gosh, Mark Plus, but what about my half-Korean grandson? Don’t bother to answer, you’ve already met the banhammer.

    Fucking racists.