Racism at the RNC: Why You Should Avoid Major News Networks for Accurate Coverage

Unbiased and accurate media coverage has been shaky in the 2012 presidential election. First, Fox News wildly distorted a speech by President Obama — claiming that he told small business owners that they "didn't build that" —which the Romney campaign quickly adopted as a rallying slogan, followed by the RNC. And on Tuesday night, conservative bloggers accused  MSNBC of omitting speeches by minority speakers at the RNC in favor of commentary from their own political reporters, a move which the conservative blogosphere deemed racist and pathetic.

While it remains unclear whether or not MSNBC was trying to paint the RNC as a whites-only affair (and whether or not MSNBC is alone in doing so), it is abundantly clear that voters need to fact-check.

Tuesday night, conservative blogger Francesca Chambers opined that MSNBC's coverage — the network allegedly was on a commercial break during Mia Love's speech, cut away during Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz's comments, ignored Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in favor of panel analysis and had hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews talk over Puerto Rican First Lady Luce Vela Fortuño's speech — was meant to downplay the presence (and indeed, the existence) of people of color at the RNC.

By Wednesday, the conservative blogosphere was up in arms, claiming that omitting Love, Davis, Cruz, and Sandoval is part of MSNBC's attempt to convince viewers that "the Republican Party is raaaaaaaaaaaacist, and that the GOP convention is nothing more than a bunch of white men talking and applauding." 

There's only one problem: Fox News allegedly didn't show the speeches either.

As of yet, there is no way for me to conclusively fact-check either any of these claims. (I personally was watching the RNC live via YouTube, and watched all of the speeches, including Mayor Mia Love's wildly applauded speech and Artur Davis' equally well-received praise of Romney.) The Huffington Post reports that major news networks did vary in their coverage of the RNC versus Hurricane Isaac, but does not delineate exactly what these differences were.

The only evidence I can currently garner comes from the curated videos posted on MSNBC and Fox's websites. Here's what I've found:

MSNBC:

The NBC Politics team features what they deem "notable speeches" from the first night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. Their picks are Ann Romney, Gov. Chris Christie, House Speaker John Boehner, Gov. Bob McDonnell, Gov. Scott Walker, former Senator Rick Santorum, and Gov. Nikki Haley.

NBC's wrap-up of the first GOP speeches similarly focuses on Chris Christie, Ann Romney, and Rick Santorum. The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd on Wednesday morning only mentions the "mixed messages" of Chris Christie and Ann Romney — though he does ponder whether or not there may have been a "breakaway star" at the RNC that the media missed.

Race at the GOP is mentioned directly in a segment with Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow slamming the Republican National Convention for strategically arranging its seating chart to highlight diversity in the party.

Todd commented, "Rachel, let me show you where I'm at. I'm at American Samoa, and in conventions past, if I was at the American Samoa delegation, I would need binoculars to see the podium. That is not the case this year ... and Rachel, the point is this. Republicans have been criticized at conventions past for while having a diverse list of speakers, that the audience is not very diverse. Well, this time any sort of audience that has any diversity to it is getting much better seating so that when the cameras catch the delegates reacting to speakers, it is more diverse and it looks more like America."

As of last check (around 12:10 P.M. on Wednesday), MSNBC does not feature Mia Love or Artur Davis on their website.

Fox News:

By late Tuesday night, videos of Artur Davis and  Mia Love were posted on Fox Nation's website; it's unclear where the footage came from.

The reaction video to Tuesday night's programming (posted on Wednesday morning) asks viewers, "Who were the best speakers?"

The video features a clip of Mia Love proclaiming "We built it!" and Mike Gallagher gushing, "I'm in love with Mayor Love from Saratoga Springs, Utah. I thought she knocked it out of the park." He further speculates that Mayor Love may be the new Obama.

**UPDATE**: Another PolicyMic writer sent me this Fox News interview with Artur Davis, which appears to have aired sometime yesterday.

The takeaway: By Wednesday morning, Fox News covered Mia Love and Artur Davis on their website (while MSNBC, at last check, still has not), but I can still neither confirm nor deny reports that either website did or did not air the speeches live. Given the clips I can find today, it looks as though Fox News is looking to highlight the speakers they may previously have skipped over, but I cannot tell if they covered them Tuesday night.

The upshot of all this? If you really want to know what's happening at the RNC without any media filtering, you're better off skipping the major networks and just watching it live on YouTube.

As I've noted previously, recent research from the Pew Research Center suggests that most of the information we've gotten this election has been from partisan sources, including the candidates themselves. As the RNC plugs forward, and the DNC approaches, I encourage everyone, regardless of party affiliation, to watch, and watch closely.

(And, of course, to follow PolicyMic's liveblog.)

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Sam Meier

Samantha Meier serves as the Identities editor at PolicyMic, where she writes on activism, gender, and new media. Sam was profiled in the New York Times for co-founding Sex Week at Harvard, and is currently working on a book about women and underground comix. Originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, she currently lives in New York.

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