Joy Reid had an incredibly informative and insightful panel discussion on Saturday about media coverage of the Democratic race for the 2020 nomination for President. With very few exceptions (Reid's show is one of those exceptions) media has perpetrated obvious and inexcusable erasure of the candidates who are People of Color, women, and both. What made Reid's panel so notable (and informed) is that it consisted solely of Black and brown people: Tiffany Cross, Jonathan Capehart, LaTosha Brown, Glenda Carr, and Gyasi Ross. Frankly, the panel should not be notable for this reason, but it is, because the media is so white, and the ones who make decisions about what gets covered and who gets attention are primarily white and male.
Here are some examples: CSPAN left Kamala Harris' name off the list of speeches from Iowa's Liberty and Justice Celebration event for hours before it was fixed.
Tom Steyer stole Sen. Harris' campaign's South Carolina voter data, and barely a blip on the media landscape registered. Joy Reid referenced a Huffington Post piece which cited the fact that in U.S. news publications, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's being a Rhodes Scholar was mentioned 596 times, compared to Mayor Cory Booker's Rhodes Scholarship mentions standing at merely 79. It's egregious and appalling.
Tiffany Cross despaired the media's refusal to acknowledge and reflect the increasingly dominant segment of the Democratic base that looks like that panel does.
Pete, again, is not polling well with Black voters. They have exalted his candidacy, like he is amazing, despite the fact that he is not winning with this key constituency group while dismissing Kamala Harris' campaign, which is ridiculous. I've interviewed her the day after the debate, and said, "Why do you think that is?" Well, you know, we know why that is. So, I think we have to stay strong with platforms like this one, and let the chatter class know, we got nixed. You all have missed the mark too many times. And it should also be a sign to the media that they need to be more inclusive in their coverage, because as long as it's very privileged, white, myopic views talking to other white voters, then they're gonna keep missing the mark.
By evolution or by force, we have to make that happen.
Reid played a segment from last week's debate when Sen. Harris implied the other candidates weren't interested in the Black community until it came time to court them for their votes, whereas Sen. Harris has spent her entire career trying to improve the lives of Black and other marginalized communities. Jonathan Capehart agreed:
But that reflection in the mirror was not just the Democratic party. It was also to the media. The media plays into that narrative. Going to the Black churches just before primary day or going to the Black churches the weekend before a general election, doing the big "souls to the polls," doing the hand-wringing about "Will they come out?" and "Will the person lose the election because the Black person doesn't come out?" The press also has a responsibility, as the Democratic party does, to look at the African-American community, not just around election time, but every time. Every day.
Cross has never, ever counted Sen. Harris out, and Capehart's open support of fairer and more favorable coverage is certainly welcome — even if he seemed to blame media's lack of coverage on her sliding poll numbers, instead of also recognizing the chicken/egg nature of the poll numbers: they might go down because of media erasure. But his self-reflection regarding media coverage is an example for all of us — especially white people — to follow and consider as we read and consume news coverage.