Did you notice that during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins firmly raised his fist, as a symbolic gesture of black opposition to various forms of systemic oppression? No? Did you watch Rodney McLeod and Chris Long alongside Jenkins in solidarity with the cause in which he is standing for? No? You are not alone. Viewers at home did not ensure any of this- not by accident, but by design.
Fox kept the cameras off of the players, blacking out their protest against racial injustice. While Fox screened an interview before the game with a black player- Michael Bennett- about why he was protesting, the fact that the network hid the actual protest irked many NFL fans.
I understand that we are talking about the same Fox network, whose earliest success came via proves like America’s Most Wanted and Cops. Programs that served not only as inexpensive different forms of first generation Reality TV, but they also were highly effective at spreading uncritical narrations of the police as being heroic public servant, that viewers could watch on a weekly basis, cemented as dependable good guys always catching the deviant bad guys.
The birth of Fox network- having the power to carve out space to make Fox News -was an offshoot of Rupert Murdoch’s decision to build a television empire around his 1993 $ 1.6 bn buy of the rights to broadcast the NFL’s NFC games from CBS.
Murdoch exclaimed:” We’re a network now. Like no other sport will do, the NFL will make us into a real network .” And Murdoch predicted:” In the future there will be 400 or 500 channels on cable, and ratings will be fragmented. But football on Sunday will have the same ratings, regardless of the number of channels. Football will not fragment .”
Murdoch wanted a news program that was an answer to the widely viewed CBS program 60 Minutes, and he wanted Fox’s hour-length news show to tap into the viewing audience spillover from the NFL football games.
The concept of producing an hour-long news show yielded to the idea of creating an entire cable network- a niche news network that targets spectators who feet the rest of the media was too liberal and left leaning. Murdoch wanted to do this right, so he brought in Roger Ailes.
Before his time shaping Fox News as its CEO, Rodger Ailes was a media consultant/ political strategist for Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign. We are talking about the same Richard Nixon campaign that watched the,” antiwar left and black people ,” as his “enemies.”
According to former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, a part of Nixon’s political strategy was to publicly” associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities .”
Ehrlichman continued by saying,” We could apprehend their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the medications? Of course we did .”
During his time working with George H W Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, Roger Ailes was the architect behind the attack ad known as the” Revolving Door”, in which the Bush campaign played on historically entrenched stereotypes surrounding black humen as the hyper aggressive, libidinally driven, criminals via William ” Willie ” Horton, a convicted rapist.
While the commercial demonstrates various men walking in and out of prison, implying that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of not being tough on crime, the goal was to associate Dukakis with Horton, a criminal, leaving Bush’s campaign manager Lee Atwater saying:” By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’s running mate .”
Ailes and Bush finished off Dukakis by besmirching the Democratic presidential nominee’s allegiance to America, by literally exaggerating the former Massachusetts governor’s vetoing of a bill that enforced penalties on educators if they did not result their classes in the pledge of allegiance.
Dukakis justified his veto on the grounds that the pledge recitation requirement was unconstitutional, contravening the educators first amendment rights,” a claim he supported with a Massachusetts supreme court advisory opinion to that consequence ,’ and Board of Education v Barnette, a 1943 supreme court case are of the view that necessitating public school students to recite the Pledge infringed their right to freedom of expression .”
Given this history, I understand all too well why Fox has chosen to blackout the black NFL players protesting police barbarism, as well as the white players willing to show solidarity and allyship to their black teammates.
I understand why Fox is unwilling to recognize that NFL players taking a knee, sitting, or creating a fist during the playing of the first poem of the Star-Spangled Banner are exerting their first amendment rights. It’s impossible not to understand.
Read more: www.theguardian.com