Thursday, September 28, 2023

Black Journalists love fest with President Obama.

June 28, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Glen Ford from wrote  an insightful review of the recent appearance of Obama Administration Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett at the National Association of Black Journalists convention.  Ford makes the point that the attendees at the convention were more concerned with being a part of the presidential fan club than doing the hard, objective work that comes with clear journalistic analysis.

Ford a 40-year veteran of the journalist profession, says this:

“This is what often passes for journalism in Black America: an infantile obsession with the inner world of the Obamas that is wholly disconnected from the real world of economic policy, and of war and peace. Such reporters become indistinguishable from the antics of Steve Harvey, the professional media ignoramus, and the schoolyard politics of syndicated disc jockey Tom Joyner.”

Glen Ford goes on to make the accurate point that the job of a journalist is not to befriend members of the political establishment, at least not in a way that undermines their ability to be objective.  He mentions that no one challenged Jarrett’s remarks in the way that an adviser might be challenged when white journalists are in the room.  Ford also says that the driving factor behind the docile nature of African American journalists is that many of them are hoping  and wishing for jobs in mainstream media.  If you’ll notice, the black faces on MSNBC (Melissa Harris-Perry and Al Sharpton) are known for their staunch support of the Obama Administration.

Ford is correct in his assessment of what’s happened to black media in the age of President Obama.  When one considers nearly all of the major black online news media outlets, I can’t recall any of them publishing anything other than content that was favorable to the Obama Administration.  In fact, I dare to say that some of them are affiliated with the White House in a way that says that they would lose either access to valuable contacts or financial support if they were to confront the administration.

My scholarly background leads me to agree with everything that Ford has said about the state of black media under President Obama.  As a professor, I am accustomed to objectively grading a student based on his/her performance, not whether or not I like that student as a person.  This influences the manner by which I refer to President Obama:  I can praise him Tuesday and slam him Wednesday with no hard feelings in between.  But I wonder if its even possible for any journalist (I am a scholar and commentator, not a professionally-trained journalist) to maintain objectivity when everyone is now being forced to pick a team.  Media has become a Crib-Blood gang war, where you either choose a side or get caught in the crossfire.

The decision of many black journalists to lie down on the job is not much different from what’s been happening on MSNBC and Fox News.  Only CNN has tried to go after that unrealistic thing called “the truth,” and it’s led to them having their worst ratings in 21 years. So, perhaps everything has become political, which means that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find networks that encourage viewers to form their own opinions instead of playing for a political football team.  Also, MSNBC’s decision to reward Harris-Perry (a professor) and Sharpton (a preacher) with their own shows, while ignoring seasoned journalists, reduces the incentive for anyone to engage in meaningful journalism.

My argument is that any African American voter who wants what’s best for his/her family and community should seek truth and think for themselves.  It makes little sense to become anti-Obama just because a Right Winger tells you to do so.  But it makes just as little sense for you to vote for Obama because Steve Harvey said so.  If our experiences in Africa and during slavery taught us anything, it’s that someone isn’t necessarily your ally just because they’re black.

Even though he was a little late to the party, I give Roland Martin credit for using his platform to speak some truth to power.  His recent tweets about holding the Obama Administration accountable should be applauded, for he is moving against the grain.  He also chose to speak out against the appointment of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court after her racially-discriminatory hiring record was revealed.  So, some journalists are taking their professions seriously and not simply seeking to join the Barack and Michelle Obama fan club.

For two years, our nation was high on “Barack Obama Crunk Juice,” and the party seemed to be jumping.  Then, as time wore on, reality started to set in and our community has begun to sober up to see that we are worse off economically than we’ve been since Biggie and Pac made their debut albums.  It will be after the party when the black history police show up that we are held accountable for our actions. When President Obama is no longer president and has rode off into the sunset, history will remember who buckled to the fad and who remained true to the purpose. Glen Ford is one of those people.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


5 Responses to “Black Journalists love fest with President Obama.”
  1. Glen Ford’s commentary is addressed here:
    Will the Real Black Press Please Stand Up?

  2. Umm Yeah says:

    Get it Boyce!

  3. James Davis says:

    Can I Be Honest!

    I think this whole discussion is disgraceful! I really do! Here, our race is in the worst shape economically than we have been in decades. There is a high likelihood that the national unemployment rate will increase to 8.3% next Friday, and here we have our professional people discussing who is best behaved around Mr. Obama. With 130 days to go before election day, why hasn’t anyone had the guts to confront this President with the one question every black would like to know. Mr. Obama, where is your job creation plan. Put one on the table!! People if you didn’t notice, we need jobs, jobs, jobs!!

  4. I have to plead guilty to the premise and purpose of this article. I am extremely proud of my profession as a journalist and even more proud to be one of the few Black faces in the room most of the time. if I feel that way about a career imagine how proud I feel as a black American with one of my own occupying the White House. Donnell Suggs. Journalist. Guilty as charged.

  5. Realman says:

    I agree with much of this article regarding how some black journalist have not held President Obama to the real issues and matters on his policies. This is similar to how many black people in general have responded to him. Just look at Asians and Hispanics, when they seek an audience with the president they come well prepared with their agenda and present him with their concerns. They actually lobby the White House like any other groups and Mr. Obama will have to acknowledge their demands.

    On the other hand too many black folks act as if they are just happy to be in the room with the president, and all he has to do is send his wife to speak to a crowd of black people and tell them she likes Beyonce and blacks are happy and satisfied with that.

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