Niagara Gazette

November 6, 2012

CONFER: The race-baiting Associated Press

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Associated Press is an important part of our everyday lives. AP articles can be found in more than 1,700 newspapers across the country, including this one. Thanks to that exposure, the AP drives the American conversation, their reports being fodder for the talk at the dinner table, at the water cooler, and on the radio.

With this media cooperative possessing such power and influence — setting the standard for news in America — one would expect the organization to exercise a great amount of responsibility to their readership when distributing their reports. This is not always the case with AP, and it was made grossly apparent in a recent article that appeared in Sunday papers on Oct. 28.

The article in question was headlined in this paper as “Poll: Racial divide in the country has grown”. It analyzed an AP poll that looked at racial attitudes in America. Not written in a subjective or all-inclusive manner as good reporting should be, the writers cherry-picked -- and even manipulated -- the data and the entire focus of the article was on how allegedly prejudiced whites are against blacks. According to the report, a majority of Americans now hold explicit anti-black attitudes. It’s a slight majority (51%), but still an unfathomable number nonetheless. One doesn’t even have to read the survey to know the assumption is bunkum: Think about your white friends, family, and coworkers; do you really think that 1 out of every 2 of them despise blacks?

If you go online you can find the full survey and its results at surveys.ap.org. The alleged disdain of blacks was determined in the breakdown of responses under the series of questions identified as RAC11 where there were 11 traits in which the respondents are asked to rate a race on how well that trait describes it, running the gamut from “not at all” to “extremely well”. There are 9 positive traits (like hard-working, intelligent at school, and good neighbors) and not one of them saw a “not at all” response rate in excess of 3% for blacks. That number is but a fraction of the assumed 51% of racist beliefs, so it’s obvious that the survey analysts considered a “slightly well” or “moderately well” response to constitute a negative belief since they weren’t in the full positive. How is that good surveying?

There were also 2 negative traits on the survey, violent and boastful, and the “slightly well” to “extremely well” range constituted 66% and 68% respectively. Despite such high numbers, it does not show anti-black bias. The reason: whites were considered violent by 68% of respondents and boastful by 77%. So, their negatives were stronger than those of blacks. Likewise, when you look at their positive traits, they actually had 3 of them in the negative at a clip above 3% (the highest negative rate given to any trait for blacks). Across the board on average, the numbers for whites were no different than blacks.

There was obvious racial bias in the reporting, because the AP article in all its length (1,182 words) said not one word about sentiments towards whites, let alone the fact that the positives were nearly equal across races or that the whites were held in greater disregard for their negative traits. The entire article, and the interviews with thought leaders contained within, painted whites as evil. Mind you, this is the same AP that in 2008 not only gave a free pass to, but highlighted and promoted in a positive light, the countless blacks who openly said they voted for Barack Obama on skin color alone – openly expressed racism and racial preference that went without identification or question.

There was also an explicit political bias in the article as well, as a good portion of it focused on Obama, how he’ll lose votes because of the racial feelings allegedly discovered in the survey and how, through anecdotal mentions, he and other blacks have been the subject of racial antagonism since he took office. It’s almost as if the writers were using race-baiting to demean support for Mitt Romney and induce a sense of White Man’s guilt to drive voters to Obama. Like many such Sunday exposes, the article would have driven the political conversation for the week that followed and with a week and a half to go to the election, it could have influenced people on the fence with entirely incorrect information. But, it didn’t, as Hurricane Sandy dominated the news cycle that followed.

Sadly, while the survey shows that whites and blacks hold each other in a positive and equal light, we have a press that drives an agenda to the contrary, in hopes of baiting races to hate one another, divide America and, for the AP’s benefit, make good headlines.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.