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ThinkProgress.org got it wrong: My liberal defense of racial stereo-typing

August 22, 2013

For a post today, Think Progress wrote the following headline:

Colorado Legislator: Poverty Higher Among ‘Black Race’ Because They Eat Too Much Chicken

The article was written by Josh Israel, and I recommend you read it first. There’s just one problem – the headline is a lie. Now, I’m not so naive as to think this never happens, but I get the honest impression that it happens more often on the right than on the left, so this one bugs me.

As a staunch, but unaffiliated, liberal, I love seeing bigoted thinking caught on the record, so I dove into the article like an ambulance chaser at a car wreck. I was dismayed, though, when I read the block quote and saw nothing close to what was spelled out in the headline. I read the rest of the article, and then took a listen to the linked audio of the event. Still, nothing.

The problem is cherry-picking. The audio showed the comments from Senator Marble were lengthy and seemed to separate diet from race, at least to some degree. Her arguments were mixed, and not well stated, and yes they reflect a typical right-wing understanding of certain stereotypes, but to say that she stated that blacks are in poverty because they eat too much chicken is just an utter lie. Of course, most readers will simply read the headline, go to the block quote, and focus on the words in bold. Voila – the writer’s goal is met.

I see this type of baiting on lots of online sites – it’s one of the reasons journalism is a dead art/science. I also can’t defend Marble directly because I know nothing of her, her past actions in the state senate, or her personal beliefs. However, I can defend honest journalism, and this, as they say, ain’t it. This type of lazy trickery only serves to weaken the platform that it tries to represent.

Bad form, ThinkProgress.org – bad form, indeed.

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