Confessions of Fox's Black Boogeyman
As the spotlight beamed down on my face, I could hear the producer counting down. Ten seconds to Armageddon; my first encounter with Fox New's epitome of evil, Sean Hannity. As I sat there waiting for the big showdown, I asked myself,
"What's a militant, Afrocentric, radical dude, like me, doing in a place like this?"
It started off on a whim. I had watched Hannity and Colmes a few times and developed a strong dislike (OK, bitter hatred) for Sean Hannity before he even opened his mouth. (Something about that permanent smirk on his face makes me wanna slap him.) So, one morning in 2002, I called ABC radio and asked to speak with the producer of his talk show.
"Hold on," the receptionist said. "Too easy," I thought. "She must be new."
I was expecting to talk to an answering machine but, to my surprise, someone picked up the receiver!
Being a seasoned community activist, I new the drill. You get 10 good seconds to pitch a story idea before a snooty producer, who is up against a deadline, rudely cuts you off midstream and tells you to fax him your info at (212) 555 -"click..." So, before the producer guy could finish saying hello, I had already given him my entire bio.
"Good, no click, yet. Now for the story pitch..."
"I wanna tell Sean Hannity, that Jesus was black !"
After a second of awkward silence, the producer said that he liked the idea and would get back with me soon.
I told myself that I wouldn't hold my breath.
Two weeks later, the phone rang. It was a producer from the Hannity and Colmes tv show who had run across my info. She wanted me on the show that night.
"Let me check my schedule," I said, pausing to shadow box with the giant poster of Sean Hannity with scripto horns drawn on his head that hangs on my living room wall.
"Cool." Ready for prime time.
A few hours later, I was rollin' through the 'hood in an expensive town car with a white chauffeur, courtesy of Rupert Murdock on my way to some secret Fox News bat cave satellite studio.
As I got mic-ed up, the producer made small talk while he adjusted the audio.
"Say, someting in the microphone, please."
"Sure, Sean Hannity is a no good, son-of-a....."
Then it was show time, just me, Sean, Alan Colmes and 10 million Conservatives who would soon learn hate my guts.
The show is pretty much the same every night. They do their classic good cop/bad cop routine. Alan Colmes asks you a few polite questions to butter you up and then ...BAM!!! Hear comes Hannity, the Hitman.
"You, know Pauuuul, he sneered in that arrogant, northern drawl that only a bigot could love, "it's racists like you...."
The show always goes pretty much according to script. Hannity hits you with a couple of patented conservative one liners. You make a quick rebuttal, then Colmes thanks you for coming on the show. The show generated so much controversy, Colmes wrote about it in his book "Red, White and Liberal."
I wasn't on Fox News again until January of 2006. I baited them with an email about "boycotting Black History Month because it was too white."
That morning, I got calls from most of Fox's shows, all wanting me to discuss the issue. At that point, I became Fox's big black boogeyman, appearing on the network 4 times that year.
It's no secret that Fox News has an agenda. They are there to ease white guilt and make Right Wing white folks feel that their bigotry and heightened sense of ethnic paranoia is justified. So, anytime some racist, Michael Richards/Don Imus type guy says something totally ignorant, they bring on a black "militant" so they can say...
"Look, ma..There are "black" racists, too !!!!
If they are not doing that, they are busy trying to play one black "leader" person against another.
I remember hearing a Fox producer quietly, sobbing in the background, when what he thought was going to be a knock down, drag out fight between an African American lady professor and myself over black history, turned out to be a respectful, enlightening conversation.
So, in 2006, any time there was an incident of white racism, anywhere on the planet. I could count on my cell phone ringing.
Now, I know that many of you are asking why, knowing the nature of Fox News, do people like myself even go on the network. After all, its kinda like walking around with a big "kick me" sign, on purpose.
To borrow from the controversial rapper Jadakiss, we do it because " we need air time."
Our hope is that between Cynical Sean's sneering and Wild Bill O'Reilly's "holier than though" finger pointing, maybe, just maybe, we can get one or two good punches in. Also, the appearances lead to other opportunities to clarify our positions that were distorted by the network. In my case, I would go on Alan Colmes' radio program, even interacting with callers, following the show which was a more principled discussion.
Sure, sometimes I felt like kicking myself for even doing the show. (I should have known it was a set up , when they sent a stretch limo with flashing party lights to pick me up for the last encounter.) But hey, they can't all be gems.
As an activist, I always ask myself if my seven and a half minutes of fame helped to raise the consciousness of the country. Did I put an issue before the public that would have otherwise gone unheard ?
Because at the end of the day, that's all that counts.
Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 firstname.lastname@example.org