Selective Editing

Selective Editing


Keith Olbermann of MSNBC recently editorialized that the Tea Party movement was devoid of “people of color.” The rallies I have seen on my local news show a good mix of what I think is meant by the term “people of color”, including blacks, hispanics, Pacific islanders and asians. But I do live in the most diverse state in the nation, and it would be hard to find any meeting of “pure white” people in this state.

Nationwide, the Tea Party movement has attracted minorities. And I suspect the percentage of “people of color” in the movement matches the percentage of “people of color” who are libertarians or conservatives in the country. I suspect Keith is informed by his own network’s video feeds, which may not feature anti-big-government minorities because they aren’t newsworthy; it doesn’t feed into the stereotype of white southern racists who want a return to Jim Crow laws. Or perhaps he just isn’t paying attention:

Randy Haddock provides his own carefully edited video response to Olbermann:

Cross posted to

  • gerryf

    It is a pretty stupid thing for him to say and isn’t really relevent to anything–there are a lot of people who are upset and they have found a voice in the tea party.

    But in your attempt to debunk him, you posted a video that either features a single black person speaking to who knows who, or a single black person in a crowd of many white people.

    Olbermann is a boob, but your response is like saying global warming isn’t happening because it snowed a lot on the east coast.

  • Frank Hagan

    I think if you re-read my post, I make it clear that I suspect the percentage of “people of color” in the Tea Party movement is about equal to the percentage who are conservative or libertarian. That means probably about 5% of blacks are sympathetic to the movement if you take recent polling trends for blacks voting for Dems, or slightly more than that if you include black social conservatives in churches, etc., who still tend to vote Democratic. Perhaps as many as 10 to 15% of blacks. Not a lot.

    The moron Olbermann thinks either the Tea Party is racist because it doesn’t force blacks to join, or that blacks are racist because they won’t join whitey, or that we should ignore the Tea Partiers because of … what?

    Some minority groups are probably represented in higher numbers. Cuban-Americans tend to be more conservative, and Asians, long on the wrong side of affirmative action with preferences stacked against them, are also more likely to be in the conservative or libertarian camp.

    The title of the post lends some idea as to what is in the post, and I called this one “Selective Editing” on purpose. Olbermann is either a victim of his network’s own selective editing of video feeds, or of not paying attention and “missing” the minorities that are present at most of the rallies. Or he was grasping to find the “outrage” that night and chose a bad topic to hype.

    The video by Randy Haddock, the video I call “carefully edited”, is from national feeds and selects only black, hispanic and asian tea partiers to show “people of color” really exist in these meetings. And you’re right, selective editing like that can indeed paint the wrong picture; you could come to the conclusion that all of the Tea Parties have a lot of blacks and hispanics in them. Just like you would think that there are a lot of signs comparing Obama to Hitler, etc. at the Tea Parties (hint: there aren’t. The Democrat LaRouche’s people are the ones with the Hitler signs.)

  • Trescml

    Devoid? No. The Tea Party has people from all walks of like and it doesn’t take much research to figured that out. However, 10-15% support from blacks? If so, they aren’t the ones going to the rallies. I went through some photos of Tea party rallies which could be blown up to show enough of the crowd (100+ people) and 5% would be the upper limit. Does this mean the Tea Party is racist–no. It just means that most of the support comes from white people. Even the Haddock’s response video shows that.

  • TerenceC

    Why do people who like to comment on politics feel the need to discuss minorities (race, nationality, religion, etc..) like they are one population? The absence of minorities with Tea Baggers is due to an absence of a coherent message from Tea Baggers.

    A good political message would garner a following of the representative population existing in the US. Every black or hispanic person I know is an independent thinker and not prone to emotional reactions from every half-assed organization that claims to represent “real americans”. Tea Baggers say they aren’t R’s or D’s, although the R’s try and claim them – they don’t seem to agree. The D’s don’t understand them since every disaffected population in the past has traditionally fallen into their tent – where else are they supposed to go, right?

    There is a slow but strong current materializing throughout the voting population of our country that we are all getting F’d by our politics. The Tea Baggers are only the first of many organizations that will target and exploit that belief. Just remember, with any political movement / organization please keep your eye’s on the organ grinder – not the monkeys.

  • Frank Hagan

    Trescml – in my reply I specifically said that support by blacks is probably at the 5% level taking “recent polling trends”. That’s because 95% of blacks voted Democratic in the last election, up slightly from the historic averages which are between 90 – 94% in national elections. And they are generally happy with their choices, according to the polls, so any proportion higher than that would be unusual. You could probably slice and dice the voting populations any way you wanted, and you would find the percentage of people supporting the Tea Party movement would be about equal to the percentage of people in that group that didn’t vote Democratic in the last election.

    That would mean there’s probably more married women than single women, more white men in total, more Asians as a percentage of their population than Hispanics of their population.

    TerenceC – while you’re right about minorities in general, there are voting trends. And people often vote against self-interest when an overriding issue is at stake. The black community reliably votes for Democratic national candidates in numbers far exceeding any other group (94+% in the most recent national elections). Even the people I know who are very conservative on social issues vote Democratic, and not because they fear white GOP racism, but because they are loyal to a political party they feel has given their community the best shot at the American dream. Its more loyalty based than self-interest based in many cases.

  • Jacob

    Frank- recent CNN polling suggests that no more than 10% of the Tea Party movement is African American, and about 10% are Latino American. I’d argue no more than 10% can claim some form of “other”. In essence, ~80% of the Tea Partiers are Caucasian. I think Olbermann noted that while the majority of the American population is Caucasian, there has to be something anecdotal about the lack of people of color. I agree with your comment that the precentages are fairly common when looking at racial politcal breakdowns. I think Olbermann was trying to make a point of the “our America” feeling and how that implies a return to the fifties where rural and simple life was the normal. The Tea Party Patriots are the people who turn red when someone asks them to press 1 for English. I don’t think it helps your arguement to call Olbermann a moron for pointing out something that I’d think many people of color have noticed in regards to the Tea Party- it is clearly not made for thier personal interests. In fact the Tea Party is nothing more than it’s own Special Interest group! So I think while your point has some merit, it doesn’t deal with the observation that the ideology of the Tea Party is inherently pro white, pro rural, pro small government, and pro states rights- all notions that have historically been at odds with non-white communities in American history.

  • kranky kritter

    the ideology of the Tea Party is inherently pro white, pro rural, pro small government, and pro states rights- all notions that have historically been at odds with non-white communities in American history.

    Well, lower income and urban ones.

    For, me, it’s not that Olberman is wrong per se. It’s that he’s trying to marginalize a relevant political movement by using the usual progressive invitations to dismiss it. That it’s insufficiently diverse, insufficiently colored, insufficiently feminist, insufficiently this, that, and the other.

    The problem with this critique, and the reason that it won’t stick is that government overspending has reached a height were it can no longer be safely viewed as an issue of gender, class, or race. We’re all in the same sinking boat full of IOUs. Concern about our individual ability to finance a bigger, more involved federal government with big new programs has spread. Most folks are willing to concede that there’s some risk there.

    This concern won’t go away because progressives say that there’s nothing to see, just move along, it’s those same old stupid grumpy white rural conservatives that we already no we should ignore.

    As a 40-something American, I know that the generation that came after me is even better than my generation at looking past misleading stereotypes. And good on them. Just as they reject things like suspicion of homosexuality in greater numbers, they reject the simplistic progressive litany about evil corporations and ingrained racism and sexism and classism. They see both sides of the story in a way that tired aging progressive douches like Olberman dont get, and can’t get.

    I congratulate them for that.

  • Frank Hagan

    I’ll stick by my statement that Olbermann is a moron … or at least plays one on TV. He is the Glenn Beck of the left: bombastic, overbearing, filled with (phony) outrage and loose with facts. His intention was to marginalize a group of people who don’t share his political views by, in effect, calling them racists. That signals to me that he cannot discuss the issues on their merits, or that his ratings are boosted by his sharp tongue. Either way, it reflects poorly on him.

    Kranky has a point about middle class and upper income minorities. They are rarely separated out in polling, but their views might align closer to the small-government conservative opinion on fiscal issues. Again, I think the Asian community probably more than the black community, and the sub-groups within the fake hispanic grouping, such as Cuban-Americans, might show a lot more support for conservative issues. Even among Mexican-Americans, the MA middle class is more aligned with small-government conservatism than the poorer Mexican-Americans (they are the minority group I have the most exposure to, having lived in towns with large Hispanic populations for most of my life).