Having taken over Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog for Steve Benen (now part of the Maddow team at MSNBC, and more power to him there, he’s badly needed), Ed Kilgore is doing a pretty solid job so far. He flags this article from The Hill written by FOX News punching bag Juan Williams and immediately asks the correct question: How long will Juan Williams now last at FOX after stating the obvious about the network’s racial dog-whistle language? Williams states:
The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”
One has to wonder then why Williams is hanging out at FOX News, arguably the number one source for disseminating these code words. I have zero sympathy for the guy, he made his choices and he has to live with them. But Kilgore immediately grasps the issue:
When Newt Gingrich turned Juan Williams into the perfect foil during the January 19 Republican candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, SC, ironic symbolism certainly abounded. Aside from the fact that Newt vaulted himself into the lead by beating up on an African-American journalist on MLK Day in the Cradle of the Confederacy, there was the additional fact that Williams is a Fox News panelist who briefly became a conservative celebrity after NPR fired him for on-air remarks deemed insensitive to Muslims. The debate audience didn’t know or care, presumably viewing Williams as just another “race-card” player who needed to be slapped down for suggesting anyone railing against the work ethic of food stamp recipients might be appealing to atavistic motives.
Now, I think Kilgore is on the right track, but my cynical side wants to move the grubby, Cheeto crud-covered GOP chess pieces forward a few moves and says Williams lobbed such a fat, tasty curveball over the plate of Gingrich in South Carolina for a reason, and that is to make a horse race out of the coronation of Marquis du Mittens as long as possible to keep the faithful glued to the primary noise machine. With Newt down in Florida and big by most accounts, he’s pitched another juicy one right into Gingrich’s ego wheelhouse with the primary just hours away. I don’t know if it’ll do any good, but the plan seems pretty obvious.
Just the kind of scrum FOX excels at creating and running with. Williams knows damn well what he’s doing now, just like he damn well knew what he was doing in South Carolina, people. Weep not for Juan.
Like I said, zero sympathy for this phony simp’s symphony.
Yer gonna give Doug J whatever, the swoons with a Stones ref like that.
Looks like an interesting post, but haven’t read it yet.
“Simp Phony For The Devil”
that is a bridge too far.
You BJ front pager kids can do what you want with the post titles, its Cole’s blog and he can run it as he wants. But I am going to ignore pop culture references from now, to preserve my sanity.
That is all.
Edit: interesting post. What is worse, the title works. I am going to get totally drunk now.
So maybe the real reason Newt is sliding in the polls is that he hasn’t faced a minority moderator since Juan Williams.
Phew! Thank goodness Steve is still blogging, just at a different site http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/
Nah, I disagree with this. I think Williams felt a flicker in his vestigial conscience and thought it’d be far too chickenshit for a black reporter _not_ to confront Gingrich for his ongoing racist and quasi-racist demagoguery, so he went ahead with it. I don’t weep for Juan Williams, but I’m not ready for the It’s All Kabuki explanation.
I hate to attribute to craftiness what might be best explained by everyday cluelessness, but maybe you’re right that Juan set that one up for Newt. It can’t be a secret to Fox management that a key factor in Newt’s appeal to their demographic is their belief that Newt would demolish the “affirmative action” President in debates. I see this as proof positive that Fox Nation is inhabiting their own reality, but whatever. Staging a preview for the audience by having Juan take a dive might have a definite payoff in #s of eyeballs/ad revenue.
@David Koch: I don’t think it’s possible to actually stop the Benenator 3000 from blogging.
This is what I think too. I don’t like Juan Williams, but I think he was right to do what he did here.
OTOH, the asshole is on Fox News so probably shame on me for giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Each line in this post was like standing on an abyss on tiptoe, leaning out over the void further and further to get a good look at what goes on in there, with the knowledge that at any second, it might stare back… and…
Some posts should come with warning labels on them.
I was going to rip through my collection of rare Everclear vintages, but decided to use it to set any Lovecraft books lying around the house on fire, and then start running off into the dark.
Maybe Juan is thinking Press Secretary.
Fuck Juan Williams. Whether he had some nefarious plan to boost Newt or was actually trying to point out Newt’s racist steam whistles, fuck him. If he’s stupid enough to encourage further racism, fuck him. If he’s hypocritical enough to call out a racist when he is one himself, fuck him. Just FUCK HIM.
What you said right here.
“One has to wonder then why Williams is hanging out at FOX News”
I have to say, the tendency to limit your dialogue to those you agree with is a mistake. Context can be exculpatory in the right circumstance. I am regarded as a troll in some of the sites I comment at. You may say this is a waste of time, but I would disagree. Insulation is beneficial when you are seeking to keep the heat in a home. When it is in the domain of ideas, you can trap the cold while seeking warmth, and there’s the rub. Lurkers often visit and peruse without comment. They absorb the opinion, and are influenced by the same. I take a lot of abuse, but I make my points. It’s a pyrrhic victory on many occasions, but I do take some scalps, from time to time.
Occam’s Razor of GOP Derpness says Kilgore is most likely correct, but then again, FOX.
Well, that coincides perfectly with my understanding of the motives of the media. But if Williams is trolling us all that effectively then he’s apparently far smarter than he’s looked up to this point.
Only not disgusting outcome I can think of that might come out this scenario is that
Juan Williams (whatever his game is) sticks to his guns
Fox News gives the guy shit, or even gets rid of him, effectively by its own criteria NPRing itself
A few more Fox News viewers wise up in the face of a display of ridiculous and loathsome bad faith and quit watching.
Other than that, a squalid scene, all around.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I’m guessing that, like his buddy Clarence Thomas, Juan Williams will stay on in a job he hates out of very real resentment over imagined slights. Williams, of course, makes a lot more money.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s a short piece about JW’s history of failing up, and the linked story about NPR is mostly about his firing.
Gin & Tonic
@Benjamin Franklin: What a selfless public servant.
I will have to disagree with you slightly. I’m sure that JW really thought he was one of them. You know, protected. He had no idea he was “our nig”. Then he asked that question.
Cocktail hour reaching peak…….
There’s literally nothing Newt can do at this point to win Florida short of outright beating Romney to death with his two meaty hands. Romney’s got a huge lead in early voting. Newt could probably win tomorrow’s voters by 10-15 points and he’d still lose by 5-10%.
I can’t watch Juan Williams because his obvious war-with-himself aspect is too sad. Would have been great if he had followed up Newt’s condescending “Juan” at that debate with an equally condescending insult and walked out. It would have felt great. It would have been freeing.
I just watched “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and had forgotten that the song by Gene Pitney was recorded after the movie was made. To tie that to this thread, Pitney play keys on “Little by Little” by the Stones!
Yeah. Phil Spector was in there with the ‘Wall of Sound”
I had a nightmare last night, specifically about Balloon Juice blog. Somehow it involved an argument (shocking right there, no?) about the meaning of whatever I was watching on tv and everyone but me being way wrong. Then I was assured that I was wrong because all y’all were driving rental cars. Then it got weird. Then someone here was prescribing and passing along prescription meds to me like in real life–“Here, take this and this and this”. And I was like, whah?
Must have had to do with a second hip issue I’m currently having, which has been excruciating and has me on a walker AGAIN, with the leftover meds from last April.
DX—I must be paranoid and need to not read BJ all the time.
@lol: A thrill went up my leg when I read your first sentence.
@Benjamin Franklin: I missed that in Keith’s book, to busy worryin about Ronnie. Oh yea, he wrote “He’s a Rebel”!
Por nada. :-)
@fleeting expletive: did you check the posts from yesterday, to make sure it was a dream?
Good luck with the hip.
Whenever you hear a back person in a conservative venue mention race it generally to help push the message that racism is sometimes justified.
The Colorado Springs Gazette (serving a right-wing very white community) periodically runs op eds by black guys that basically say “Hey brothers, just because a bunch of blacks say you should vote for Obama just cause he is black if you really understood the issues affecting you, you would vote for a white conservative”.
Given that the paper has very few black readers and of those only a tiny percentage could be swayed by this rhetoric, what such op eds really say is that blacks vote in a racist manner so for whites to do so too, and that blacks are too stupid to understand their real interests while whites are not.
It’s Camille Paglia claiming she’s so good she doesn’t need feminism.
It’s Herman Cain not grasping that playing the fool still makes him a fool no matter how much he gets paid for it.
It is Sullivan strip-mining his own ego in Macy’s window while he pretends it is Tiffany’s.
It’s everyone paid to sell out their own sense of self and they always think they can cynically make this bargain. They want so much to be accepted and valued; that is why they also do it. But there isn’t enough money n the world; or why do they wind up so angry and miserable?
@fleeting expletive: We are driving rental cars. Bwahahahaha!
I disagree; I DON’T AT ALL think Juan Williams was playing any intentional gambit on behalf of his Fox employers with his question to Gingrich in SC debate. Instead, he’d become so cozily invested, so seemingly welcome at Fox in the heart of conservative-GOP land that he’d come to honestly believe these weren’t a bunch of racists he’d found a home with, why…Herman Cain, JC Watts and all that. Until the Gingrich exchange at the debate, Williams had been able to successfully maintain the shell of rationalization that racists were a fringe within the GOP, not representative of it nor promoted by Fox. The Gingrich exchange induced a serious crack in that shell in Williams’ mind that night, but mentally protected in part by the endorphins of his comfortable existence at Fox, the shell didn’t crack open enough immediately for Williams to react with outrage. Nevertheless, the cited article at The Hill about the deliberate racial code being used by GOP candidates is an indication that the shell of comfort and denial is finally cracking open for Williams. Yes, well, duh Juan, a bit slow I agree, but the article clearly indicates that the light is going on in Williams head.
The article at the Hill won’t get Williams fired at Fox, but if Williams goes much further in following through in similar vein, Ailes and the senior staff at Fox will give Williams a quiet ultimatum to back off further pursuit of that line of criticism against GOP presidential candidates particularly, and GOP candidates generally. It will be at that point where Williams will be forced to choose between knowingly continuing to be symbolic window dressing to facilitate plausible denial of the racist nature of the GOP Williams now recognizes with his own eyes, or else finally do the principled thing and quit.
Yes, perhaps he should have reacted sharply back at Gingrich or the debate that night. But Williams could still do the country a great service if he resigns from Fox by publicly stating that reason is they wanted him to continue serving as a quiet apologist for racism, which he was not willing to do. Let’s see what happens before we further judge Williams.
It’s a tough call–I’ve been “meh” on Williams since the “muslim garb” business that separated him from NPR but I just don’t know if he’d lob a fat one over Newt’s plate on purpose. It worked, but even though we can dissect something like that afterwards, it’s a real weird calculation to make that Williams could pitch one just so Gingrich could be Babe Ruth and point to where in the stands he was gonna land that ball (um, wow, tortured sports metaphor, me). The dog-whistle “sweet spot”, as it were.
OTOH, my husband the other day said that the GOP primary reminded him of wrestling storylines, where the candidates were working the mike and winning early match-ups to be big foils for Mitt to later beat to fluff him up, just the way stiffs were massaged into being major heels to make Hulk Hogan look legendary for Wrestlemanias back in the 80’s. After all, how to you make a limited guy look good? Have him win what look like hard ones. (Um, tortured sports-entertainment metaphor, him.)
@cmorenc: I don’t know. I incline toward Zandar on this, but, if Williams steps up to the plate, I am willing to change my mind.
Williams’ integrity may be compromised by being at Fox in the first place, but not so compromised as to knowingly be reading the part of Stphen Fetchit off a Fox-written script, as Zandar claims. IMHO Williams expected Newt to respond to his question with an evasive rationalization rather than such an aggressive reinforcement of the original race-whistle that not merely the dogs, but the deafest humans could plainly hear it.
I’m no Juan Williams fan at all, and I agree he’d comfortably accepted the role of house intellectual negro over at Fox. However, I’m willing to grant him the possibility of a fresh start, depending on where this all goes from here. If he stays, he can no longer deny with integrity the nature of so many of the people he’s chosen to hang out with and accept a comfortable income from.
@cmorenc: Like I said, I don’t feel like cutting him slack at this point in his career. He can prove me wrong and I will have no problem admitting it.
A short-term lease might be more cost-effective…
Marquis du Mittens…I may have to have a cigarette.
I’m friended with Juan Williams on FB; I call him out regularly on his crap, whether it’s hanging with Breitbart or some other act of Uncle Tomfoolery.
Today, JW posted his comments about GOP dogwhistles. I was one of the first commenters and I told him, ‘hoo boy Juan, you asked for it’. And he got it, his commenters flamed him. I think within the first 10 comments came the predictable retort, “people who cry ‘racism’ are the REAL racists!!!” Shut up, that’s why.
Lie down with dogs, Juan… get up with fleas.
Maybe, but one doesn’t have to wonder very long. There are about two million reasons for Williams to hang out at Fox – and if he loses his well-heeled friends there, no-one else is likely to hire him for more than a fraction of that wage.
Fuck the GOP. This is war and we didn’t start it.
Fuck ’em. No quarter given here, no quarter expected.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is war.
And I hate war.
@Vixen Strangely: Fat one? Like a fat piece of cat shit?
I have to agree with those who disagree with the argument in this post. I think Juan was looking for the classic non-apology apology from Newt and certainly wasn’t expecting to get personally attacked. Pundits are pretty thin skinned when it comes to criticism and are pretty vain creatures too, so it defies all logic that one would try to set up any sort of scenario to advance whatever interests they have by making themselves a punching bag. Makes no sense whatsoever. Williams thought Newt would respect him, Newt in return publicly humiliated him and made that public humiliation the talking point of the entire night. Whatever Williams intentions were with his question, that certainly was not one of them.
“One has to wonder then why Williams is hanging out at FOX News.”
hmmmm…i can think of $2 million reasons, off the top of my head
edit..whoops, warren terra beat me to it
Juan’s at FOX for the money.
They needed a token and were willing to pay handsomely for it. Looking at all that money on the table Juan convinced himself that he could make a difference there, thus comforting himself that it wasn’t just for the money.
And having whored himself out, he has become FOX’s piñata, a handy thing to take swings at but also to admire for how cute it is. And Roger Ailes gets to deny that he’s running a racist network because “some of his best commentators are black.”
Well now, Juan’s goal may be “to keep the faithful glued to the primary noise machine,” but the longer the primary fight goes on, the better it is for Obama. So is it Juan’s double-plus secret plan to help Obama?