The Liberal Media Views Race Through the Eyes of Michael Scott

One of my all time favorite television characters is Michael Scott from The Office (back when the show was still funny). The self-centered and incompetent, though well-meaning office manager was portrayed masterfully by actor Steve Carell. One of the many trademarks of the character was his internal need to demonstrate to his subordinates that he was sensitive to racial diversity in the workplace. The problem was that in doing so, he would often use insensitive racial stereotypes or hail minorities within the office as triumphant, miraculous success stories for merely achieving the common job positions they held. His actions would reek of unwitting condescension and were often met with irritation by the people he was lavishing praise upon.

Though the character was fictional and such scenes were intended for the purpose of comedy, shades of this same form of racial condescension can be seen regularly in the supposedly serious professions within the media. The mentality essentially stems from the idealistic belief that even in this day and age, criticism of a non-white is less likely prompted by what that individual says or does, and is more likely prompted by the color of their skin. I’ve written about this in the past. It’s a fairly prevalent mindset.

But from time to time, we see such an outlandish example of this behaviorism that it deserves special attention. The recent reaction to Newt Gingrich’s talking down of Juan Williams in FOX News’ last Republican presidential debate is one of those examples.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Williams was one of FNC’s questioners during the South Carolina debate on January 16th. When Gingrich was asked by Williams about perceived racial implications in discussing poverty programs, Gingrich answered in a tone that could fairly be described as arrogant and parental. In other words, it was answered in the same Newt-like manner debate viewers have come to expect when watching Gingrich field an absurd question. Such moments usually result in an enthusiastic pop from the venue’s conservative audience, which is exactly the type of response Gingrich is aiming for.

Chris Wallace, John King, Maria Bartiromo, and numerous others have all drawn Newt’s ire under similar conditions. However, in the case of Juan Williams, who just happens to be an African American, some in the media saw something far more sinister. They saw despicable racist overtones.

Though it isn’t easy, let me try and explain their rationale…

First of all, they didn’t like how Gingrich began his answer by addressing Williams by his first name, Juan, which they apparently found disrespectful. Despite the fact that every panel member from every debate has been referred to by their first name by every candidate, the media saw racism in the case of Juan Williams.

Secondly, they didn’t like the way Gingrich said the name ‘Juan’. It wasn’t the pronunciation that they objected to, but rather the snide tone that came with it. Despite the fact that the tone was consistent throughout the entirety of Gingrich’s answer, and mirrored the same tone he’s used in previous debate performances, the media saw racism in the case of Juan Williams.

Lastly, they objected to Gingrich’s mere revealing of Williams’ first name. Because the name ‘Juan’ is a typically associated with a specific ethnicity, it was speculated that Newt purposefully won favor with the South Carolina crowd (perceived by the liberal media to be inherently racist) by dressing down a person with that name. So… The media saw racism in the case of Juan Williams.

Sound ridiculous and silly? It is. It’s every bit as ridiculous and silly as Michael Scott asking a Mexican employee if he’d rather not be referred to as a Mexican because it’s an “offensive” term. It’s every bit as ridiculous and silly as Michael Scott assuming that his only African American co-worker is good at basketball. It’s every bit as ridiculous and silly as Michael Scott asking a friend to read out loud a list of employees who might have a police record, then calling that friend “a racist” once he gets to the name of an African American co-worker.

But in the case of the Newt Gingrich/Juan Williams exchange, we’re sadly not talking about a sitcom. We’re talking about today’s media.

Here were MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ thoughts on the day after the debate:

“There were interesting aspects to that, wasn’t there some applause when he called him Juan? I mean it’s an interesting thing here. I mean, I once, it’s very clever — I mean Newt is a very smart guy. He knows how to play an audience… Now it is his name, and Juan is his name, but there’s an interesting way it’s used and to personalize it, and Juan Williams has a lot of guts getting in front of that audience that’s conservative white in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and asking a question which is a reasonable question… This is going to get very, you know, very ethnic, very racial, it’s going to get very hot… And I think we’re looking for signs of coaxing people back to their sort of tribal attitudes. You know, and how it’s done and that use of the name Juan, the way he does it… It’s just the way he did that.”

Chauncey DeVega, who blogs for The Daily Kos and called Juan Williams a “paid pinata for white conservatives” and described the moment this way: “The cheering, snide glee of Newt Gingrich dressing down uppity ‘Juan’, and the audience’s cheering of a ‘boy’ being put in his place, would be missed by only the most in denial observer.”

And then there’s FOX News Channel’s own Geraldo Rivera, who’s never met a racial minority in the public eye who he didn’t feel compelled to defend against imagined persecution. On his WABC radio show last Thursday, he made these comments about the Gingrich/Williams exchange:

“I believe, you know, and I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought about it, I really believe that what Newt Gingrich did to Juan Williams at that debate, at that presidential debate in South Carolina on Monday really was, if it wasn’t racist it was racialist. Now, listen to this, folks, and you tell me when you listen to the way Newt Gingrich says Juan Williams’s first name. He says it like it’s a racial epithet, I swear to God, that’s my impression… All right, there is Gingrich being filled with disdain, utter disdain, for the only man of color maybe in that whole room.”

Oh my. What a comical bunch.

Maybe the NBC entertainment division should hire Matthews, DeVega, and Rivera to do some sitcom writing. That way, The Office might actually start being funny again.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration (Computer Information Systems), and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. He is the author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, which is available through all major retailers. John lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
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  • Jon

    I completely disagree with this article.

    _The Office_ is still funny and getting funnier all the time.

  • Gena Taylor

    The liberals have used and abused the so-called race card so much it in itself is almost laughable. Racism,when it really occurs is offensive, but when it gets charged everytime any white person offers any criticism of a person of any other race or ethnic background, it loses its validity for even serious charges. It is looking more and more like we will see racism charges incessently during this campaign because Obama has no really achieved much to run with so all he can use to convince people he is the person to lead the country for four more years of OJT leadership is to call racism at any and all charges of incompetent leadership brought against his four years of incompetent leadership.
    A lot of people thought having finally broken the barrier of having a first black president would unify people of all races. It has, instead, brought more division and set back race relations, because they, the liberals, have used race baiting as their main, and often only defense against any action to slow his destructiion, along with the help of his many white supporters, of our country. People don’t dislike him cause he is black, they dislke him and Pelosi,Biden,Reid,etc, because they are working overtime to destroy the way of life that has made this country the beacon of light to the entire world. I think Rubio said it very well the other day, why destroy that which has made people want to leave everything to come to America. Paraphrasing, somewhat, not because I can say it better, but because of old age and loss of total recall memory. Young Rubio had stated the idea much better than I did.

  • BND

    It may not have been racist. I don’t think newt was coming from the point of view of White people being superior. However I do think Newt knows how to be racial. Its funny to me how white people seem to be the only ones to validate whats racial or not. At times it seems like white people NEVER see Racism or Racial overtones in anything other then a lynching. ( or dragging a black man behind a pick up truck in Texas that happens to be driving by two white members of the Aryan Nation.)

    Let me get to the my point. Racial things happen everyday. Just because it may not effect you, don’t mean that it does not happen or is not valid.

    • John Daly

      Give us an example of how Gingrich has been “racial” as you put it.

    • Gena Taylor

      The incident in Texas was several years ago, does not reflect most Texans, and I think the assholes who committed that horrible attack both got the death penalty, from largely fellow white Texans. Most of us white Texans don’t put up with that sort of crap.
      And I’ve never met a white supremist who could not also be classified by fellow whites as white trash. You very seldom find an educated white person who is also a white supremist. Just the facts. as Sgt Friday used to say.

    • John Daly

      No one doubts that racism exists. The point of the column is that our friends on the left see often see racism where there isn’t any.

  • cmacrider

    John: Very perceptive article. As a Canadian I am completely bewildered by this continuous dragging up of “racism” by the Left. Every literate person knows (a) America had a race problem arising from the institution of slavery which carried through with the days of segregation. Every literate person also knows that since the Sixties Americans have made great strides to resolve this issue and as a society they are no more racist than any other society. Americans should be celebrating their famous ability to “re-invent” themselves.
    Secondly, is Mathews suggesting that somehow Juan Williams is not proud of his African American background? I regularly watch Juan Williams on Fox, and although I don’t always agree with his views, I suggest that he is entitled to be proud of both his ethnicity and his personal accomplishments as a man.
    Thirdly, it seems evident that with the loss of the Soviet Union as a spiritual leader, with the current failure of the Welfare State, the Left (which is trapped in a time capsule) have only one card left to play and that is the “race card.”

  • John Lamb

    I just went to youtube to hear the entire exchange and to suggest that Gingrich said Jaun’s name in any other way but normal is race baiting by any journalist who suggests anything else. I can’t take Chris Matthew’s seriously or MSNBC or FOX for that matter because both stations have political agendas. However, to be fair, Newt gave a good response and spoke about a subject that is controversial. Commentators such as Matthew’s are out for one thing, shock value. Unfortunately, this shock value is divisive and creates unnecessary angst among the viewers. Viewers need to understand that cable shows such as MSNBC and FOX and even Jon Stuart’s Daily Show play ping pong with each other and the viewers by intentionally criticizing each other and hoping for higher ratings. Matthew’s should be ashamed but then again he’s been around long enough to know exactly what he’s saying and he’s paid very well to do it. In closing, it’s remarkable how these new stations are creating the news themselves rather than reporting the news. Pathetic but apparently worth it for the ratings. I gave up on all of these shows long ago when I kept seeing on FOX reports about MSNBC and the even greater number of reports about FOX on MSNBC.

    • John Daly

      Every major news organization has its political leanings, and CNN, ABC, and CBS are every bit as guilty as FOX. MSNBC is on a completely different planet.

  • GeorgeTrent

    I don`t see the anti-white Liberals as well meaning.

    They are forcing mass immigration and social engineering only on western countries.

    The intention is obviously that they want rid of whitey.

    There`s a word for that.Genocide.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white

    • John Daly

      I believe that people like Chris Matthews and Geraldo Rivera actually believe that they’re fighting injustices left over from the civil rights movement. As delusional as they are, I think that THEY think they’re doing something noble… thus well-meaning.

  • DOOM161

    I’m curious as to how they expected Gingrich to avoid discussing race when asked about race.

  • Bob Weber

    It’s a testament to how boring and PC our modern politics are that all these analysts have to make up racist comments just to make these debates seem more interesting.

  • Paul Borden

    I get the feeling that if Newt had addressed him as “Mr. Williams,” that would have been considered racial as well. Someone would have pointed out that no other panelist was addressed by his/her first name.
    BTW, the transcript of Chris Matthews’ comments is hilarious. It shows just how disjointed his thoughts and expressions are. How this guy ever got a TV show is beyond me.