Who is the racist, Obama or Murdoch?
So is U.S. President Barack Obama a racist? Or is Rupert Murdoch?
But that apparently doesn’t make him a racist.
Confused? Me too.
The News Corporation chairman, one of the most controversial figures in the media world, has never minded hitting the headlines in his own right and this week was no exception.
First, in an interview with Sky News in Australia, he chose to back conservative Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.
Remember that back in July, Beck boosted his ratings dramatically when he accused Obama of having “a deep seated hatred for white people and white culture.”
Murdoch’s reaction is worth printing in full:
“He did make a very racist comment about blacks and whites and so on, which he said in his campaign he would be completely above,” Murdoch said of Obama.
And of Beck’s remarks: “That was something which perhaps should not have been said about the president but if you actually look at what he was talking about, he was right.”
Ah, but hang on a minute. A quick backtrack soon followed.
Murdoch “does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist”, a News Corp. spokesman then told Politico.com.
Beck’s original comments came in the midst of the row about the arrest of African-American Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. for breaking into his own home.
At the time Obama admitted he did not know all the facts of the case but it was nevertheless clear the white policeman had acted stupidly. He later apologized.
A petition launched by colorofchange.org mentioned on The Huffington Post web site demands Murdoch put an end to Fox’s race-baiting or openly declare he supports it. “Mr. Murdoch, more and more it appears that Fox’s problems with race starts at the top, with you,” it writes.
The election of America’s first black president was certainly a massive step forward, but perhaps loftier dreams of a new post-racial era might have been a little overblown.
CORRECTS: makes clear colorofchange.org launched petition.
Photo credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser (Murdoch), Reuters/Jim Young (Obama)