Cynthia McKinney Confronts Corporate Media Malice in Court
executive editor Glen Ford
is putting their crimes against truth on the record, and we salute her."
In a suit filed in Georgia state court, former congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney charges the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) and its
parent company, Cox Enterprises, a multi-national corporation, with waging a
libelous, defamatory and malicious vendetta resulting in the loss of her
congressional seat, last year. The case is a window - albeit a narrow, legal
one - on the general corporate campaign to penetrate and reshape Black politics
in the United States, to impose a docile class of corporate-friendly Black
"leaders." Media is key to accomplishing the coup.
At the core of the suit is Cynthia Tucker, the Black
editor of the AJC's editorial page, who has for years been incapable of
uttering McKinney's name without sneering. Tucker, the corporate owners' Black
pit bull, depicted McKinney's March, 2006, encounter with a Capitol Hill policeman
as an unprovoked assault, pure and simple. "She slugged him with her
telephone," wrote Tucker, in a column that appeared barely a week before
McKinney faced challenger Hank Johnson, the favorite of most whites and the
corporate establishment, in a Democratic primary runoff. Tucker "tried to spin
this incident into a felony," said McKinney, in her suit. "This false and
libelous allegation is not supported by any witness or other evidence."
McKinney was never indicted for any crime, and says the incident was the result
of racial and political harassment by the Capitol Police.
Tucker is the Cox corporate owners' Black pit bull."
Tucker made McKinney's defeat a priority project. "Tucker
falsely attempted to attribute what she interprets as anti-Semitic statements
by Cynthia McKinney's father by stating that ‘her father, [is] a spokesman for
the campaign,'" the suit states. "Her father was not a spokesman for the
campaign or for her."
McKinney has long been targeted by the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC), possibly the
nation's most powerful lobby and attack dog group, for her failure to tow the
Israeli line in Congress. Although McKinney's father, a former Atlanta police
officer and state lawmaker, has indeed made indiscreet comments, no one has
ever claimed Rep. McKinney has uttered anything that could remotely be deemed
anti-Semitic. "The attempted attribution was false, defamatory and libelous,"
states her legal brief.
McKinney labels as "malicious" Tucker's repetitive
assertions that "She suggested that President Bush had known in advance about
the Sept. 11 attacks but did nothing to stop them so his friends could profit
from the ensuing war." That's not what
McKinney said, back in the Spring of 2002, and her questioning of the conduct
and motives of the Bush regime have since proved prescient.
Cox Enterprises' Atlanta radio outlet, WSB, piled on in
racist frenzy. McKinney looks like a "ghetto slut," shrieked talk show
personality Neal Boortz - a "slander," according to McKinney's suit.
Cox did nothing to rein in their radio personality, and
Cynthia Tucker won a Pulitzer Prize for her columns, including the one that
savaged McKinney. A Cox spokesman called McKinney's suit "preposterous." (For
further details on the legal action, see Atlanta Progressive News, July 27.)
Newspaper as Serial Liar
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution worked in tandem
with corporate money and AIPAC to first unseat Cynthia McKinney in the 2002
Democratic primary election. The paper, like its corporate siblings across the
nation, was anxious to prove that a political sea change had occurred in Black
America. Gone were the days of "civil rights-style" rhetoric and confrontation
- or so the theory went. Middle class African Americans like those in
McKinney's district, centered in Dekalb County, the second most affluent Black
majority county in the nation, were becoming more conservative, it was said.
According to the new paradigm, hatched in rightwing think tanks and universally
adopted by corporate media, the Cynthia McKinneys of Black America are out of
date, passé, and no longer appealed to an upwardly mobile class of African
American voters. Dekalb County would tell the tale.
"According to the new paradigm, hatched in rightwing
think tanks and universally adopted by corporate media, the Cynthia McKinneys
of Black America are out of date, passé."
While AIPAC and corporate donors stuffed the coffers of
Black challenger Denise Majette - a former Republican and protégé of
pro-Republican Democratic Senator Zell Miller - the Atlanta
Journal Constitution provided Majette with millions of dollars in free
publicity and attack-dog services. Cynthia Tucker growled and sneered at the
head of the local and national corporate media pack, intent on making a fait
accompli of their own analysis, that Blacks were sliding to the Right. Tens of
thousands of white Republicans prepared to cross over to vote as Democrats in
the "open primary," eager to put the uppity McKinney in her place. The
Designated Negro, Majette, outspent the McKinney by 40 percent.
Majette won. Corporate media rejoiced, nationwide. As their
local representative, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claimed to
conduct a study that showed Majette had assembled a "biracial coalition of voters" to win
victory, ushering in a new age of "centrist" Black politics. The prophecy had
Dixon, now Black Agenda Report's managing editor, did his own study of
the election data and found that Majette could not have won more than 19
percent of the Black vote. The key to Majette's victory was an abnormally high
white turnout, 90 percent of which she won. Majette was not the Great Black
Centrist Hope - she was the white candidate, and the Black community had
overwhelmingly supported McKinney. There was no history-shaking "split" among
Blacks in relatively affluent Dekalb County; it was a fiction.
More than half a
year after Dixon proved that the Atlanta Journal Constitution's "study"
was bogus, the paper's own favorite political scientist and quote-man,
University of Georgia Prof. Charles Bullock, declared Majette's "bi-racial
coalition" a myth. His research showed Majette garnered no more than 17
percent of the Black vote. (See Bruce Dixon, June 12, 2003.)
"What Majette needs to be doing is getting out, courting in the Black
community, trying to broaden her coalition because she did so poorly in her
community," wrote Prof. Bullock.
What Majette did
was get out of the district, embarking on a Quixotic, hopeless quest for Zell
Miller's vacating Senate seat. With no time for AIPAC, the Atlanta Journal
Constitution and corporate capital to vet a Designated Negro of their own,
Cynthia McKinney won her seat back in 2004.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found defamatory
manna from heaven in the last year of McKinney's term, when a Capitol Hill
policeman confronted her as she attempted to do the people's work. Editor
Cynthia Tucker revved up her defamation machine, recycling old lies and libels
with the new. We commend Cynthia McKinney for challenging Tucker and the Cox
corporate giant that is Tucker's only backbone, in court, while fully
understanding that the chances of judicial success are slim, to say the least.
If deliberate distortion of reality by corporate media could be effectively
prosecuted in the United States, the entire industry would be behind bars or
bankrupted. McKinney is putting their crimes against truth on the
record, and we salute her.
Cynthia Tucker revved up her defamation machine, recycling old lies and libels
with the new."
The assaults against McKinney's character and seven-term
career are but one skirmish in a nationwide corporate offensive that was
sketched out by rightwing strategists in the mid-Nineties and fully implemented
in the early years of the Bush regime. For the first time, corporate American
would make a concerted and coordinated effort to cleanse the African American
polity of what remained of the Black Freedom Movement. The year 2002 was their
D-Day for invasion of Black politics. They came strapped with millions in cash,
and the supporting artillery of corporate media. AIPAC acted as cavalry,
ranging across the country and terrorizing Black politicians into submission.
The first target was Newark, New Jersey, where Hard Right
Bradley Foundation Black acolyte Cory Booker, a 31-year-old second term city
councilman and private school voucher advocate, raised millions in his mayoral
campaign and won endorsements from every New York region corporate media
outlet, thanks to the skills of the Bradley-funded Manhattan Institute. I am
proud to say that my research and writings,
exposing him as a Trojan Horse for the Right, forestalled Booker's ascension to
City Hall for four years. Booker was beaten, but remained on the A-list of
corporate-designated "new Black leaders" until he finally won the mayor's
office in 2006.
The corporate juggernaut rolled on, in 2002, vastly overspending
(by 60 percent) and ousting Black Alabama Congressman Earl Hilliard, who had
resisted the pro-Israel lobby and corporate demands. He was replaced by the
pliant but deviously skilled Artur Davis. Then it was Cynthia McKinney's turn,
later that summer.
At the end of the 2002 offensive, the corporate blitzkrieg
had installed Artur Davis, Denise Majette, and the obscure but thoroughly
bought-out new congressman from the Atlanta-area, David Scott, in the
Congressional Black Caucus. They joined Columbus, Georgia's Sanford Bishop and
the rapidly Right-rushing Harold Ford, Jr. (TN) to form a corporate faction
within the Caucus, along with Maryland's Albert Wynn and shaky members who
trembled whenever the winds blew rightward. The Congressional Black Caucus was
finished as a coherent political force on Capitol Hill, unable to resist
corporate capital as represented in its own ranks.
The Black masses have not undergone any political sea
change; they have simply been abandoned by their representatives, who have been
suborned or terrorized by money and concentrated media and lobby power.
Corporations have embraced "diversity" as a weapon. About a decade ago, they
realized that their vast wealth empowered them to create an alternative Black
political structure, and that there were plenty of Black opportunists eager to
be recruited. At this point, corporate victory is all but complete, having
neutered Black electoral and traditional institutions in lightning speed.
have embraced "diversity" as a weapon."
The disaster puts in graphic relief the failures of legal
strategies, which are so narrow that nine people on the Supreme Court can
thwart the will of 40 million African Americans, and the impotence of
conventional electoral strategies, which are negated in Dekalb County, Georgia,
and everywhere else in the nation through sheer force of money.
There is no substitute for a mass movement in opposition
to the cages that capital erects around us. Cynthia McKinney represents the
overwhelming majority of Black people in her district. They are inspired by her
courage and defiance of Power - and are no different than African Americans,
everywhere. The corporate project uses its media to invent a fantasy Black
polity, and then deploys its media muscle and money to make it so. Some of us
believe the constantly repeated lie. If it goes unchallenged long enough, it
becomes a received truth - and
progressive politics, with its base in Black America, will be over.
African Americans must press for self-determination, not
mitigated by money or the power of white voter "democracy" - a democracy from
Hell, as we have known throughout our entire sojourn on this continent. Only WE
affirm ourselves, not corporate media, not the millions that Barack Obama
gathers from his rich friends. But that means we must organize. It is a
lifelong project, as it was for our ancestors.
Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].