A recent CNN segment about rap artist Kanye West was slammed as “racist” by critics, but several mainstream media watchdogs ignored the controversy.
During Tuesday’s installment of “CNN Tonight,” host Don Lemon asked if President Trump, who hosted West at the White House, was simply using him “as a prop to win over black voters before the midterms.”
CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers responded by saying, “Kanye West is what happens when Negros don’t read.”
Sellers’ remark prompted laughter from Lemon and fellow panelist Tara Setmayer, who followed up by saying that West was “the token Negro of the Trump administration.”
While several critics have condemned the segment as “racist,” football legend-turned-activist Herschel Walker went so far as to openly ponder why Lemon, Sellers and Setmayer remained on the air at all.
CNN did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock called the CNN-aired comments “reprehensible” and “racist,” while podcaster Tony Katz wrote that Lemon “clearly supports this kind of racial attack against someone he disagrees with.”
BET.com, The Intercept, The Daily Mail, The Washington Times, Mediaite, The Daily Caller and TheWrap all covered the explosive cable news moment. Headlines included: “CNN panel sparks outrage by calling Kanye West the ‘token Negro of the Trump administration’ as they ‘mock’ his mental health,” and “Don Lemon cracks up as CNN panelists use offensive racial term to mock Kanye West.”
But the segment got a different reception, if any at all, from mainstream media. Conservative author and talk radio host Larry Elder told Fox News that there is a clear double standard at work.
“Apart from white Republicans, the remaining group in America that it is still OK to insult, ridicule and stigmatize is black Republicans,” Elder said.
There was no mention of the segment featuring the “token Negro” line at major news organizations including The Associated Press, The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post, according to Fox News research. MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News and NBC News all appeared to pass as well.
One so-called watchdog that ignored the racially charged discussion was the tax-exempt Media Matters, an organization dedicated to combating cable news coverage that doesn’t coincide with its mission. A quick search of the word “racist” on the Media Matters website produces 4,434 results – but it did not cover the remarks made about West despite the strong responses directed at CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker’s network.
Media Matters does take aim at CNN on occasion; earlier this week it published a story headlined, “CNN’s conservative pundits are helping the GOP fearmonger over ‘scary’ liberal protesters.”
Fox News reached out to Media Matters for comment about why it didn’t cover the controversial CNN segment.
“No entity is more fair and balanced than Media Matters. I’m damn proud of the work we have done holding media accountable and our ability to focus on the big fights that need fighting and avoiding the shiny objects,” Media Matters president Angelo Carusone said in part of a statement that included several jabs at Fox News.
Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra called Media Matters a “far-left organization” whose “goal is to smear and delegitimize right-wing media.”
“If a conservative outlet’s employees would have said many of the disgusting things that CNN has about Kanye West over the last several days, Media Matters… would have been tweeting about it nonstop, trying to drive [it] out of business,” Saavedra told Fox News.
“It’s not surprising that Media Matters wouldn’t cover it. They stayed away from Joy Reid’s hacker controversy and her old blog entries that many called homophobic,” The Hill media reporter Joe Concha told Fox News.
Concha said it’s simply “not in their business model” to call out liberal news organizations, especially when considering that the targets of the controversial rhetoric were West and Trump.
“To criticize CNN would mean, at least tacitly, siding with what 99.9 percent of their readers see as the bad guys,” Concha said.
CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter – many regard it as required reading for the coastal media elite – didn’t mention it, either.
Elder noted that “about 95 percent of blacks have in recent years voted Democrat” at the presidential level.
“Why? Democrats have convinced them that racism remains the major problem facing black America – not the welfare state-induced lack of fathers in homes, not failing urban schools, not job-killing left-wing economic policies, not the unfair competition for jobs and the downward pressure on wages because of illegal immigration,” he said. “No, it’s racism.”
The “Larry Elder Show” host continued, “If that mask gets ripped off and blacks stop thinking of themselves as ‘Victicrat,’ Democrats are in serious trouble. So [the] ‘defector’ must be harshly dealt with.”
Elder said that as a result, the media is torn when “left-wing blacks display bigotry toward conservative blacks,” and Lemon and CNN being ignored are the most recent example.