Ever since The New York Times published their interview with Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) I can see that I’ve landed in between two extremes.
The first is to defend King at all costs, every statement, assume every reported statement that he has ever made has been taken out of context.
The second extreme is to label him a racist, bigot, or cancer, and say he needs to resign.
In response to the first extreme, I’ll say, Congressman King is not perfect and no politician should be defended at all costs. Dismissing every criticism as “political correctness” lacks discernment. Some statements deserve criticism.
King’s explanation that in his quote in the New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” the phrase “Western civilization” was preceded by a pause and should have been a separate sentence is plausible. We don’t have the context. We don’t know what question he was asked. We also don’t have a recording of the interview. There was an underlying bias within the article (for example calling his policies “anti-immigration” rather than “anti-illegal immigration” that is a distinction with a difference).
So his explanation is plausible, but, unfortunately for King, it’s unprovable, and the proximity of the phrase “white supremacist” with the question “how did that language become offensive?” throws up a red flag. If nothing else it was clumsy.
Compounding the problems for King is his history of questionable, clumsy remarks accompanied by retweeting and following people associated with white nationalist groups, and endorsing foreign candidates who also have ties to white nationalist groups. Had it not been for his past, I’m not sure we would be here today.
King has said that he is the left’s number one target, well if that is the case, then you shouldn’t be giving them ammunition. And King has, by the truckload.
In response to the second extreme, the term racist has been used so frequently and unfairly by the left that many people see them in the same light as the boy who cried “Wolf!” I can say this from the unpleasant experience of being a target almost five years ago after posting an internet meme which, ironically, was proven correct by the response it received. It wasn’t the best decision of my life (an understatement), but it also wasn’t posted out of some latent racist motivation either. Those who know me and my history knew how ridiculous that label was, but those who disagree with me were happy to take a pot shot.
So I understand the skepticism when this label is thrown around and misapplied.
He’s not going to get any awards for being a civil rights leader. But The New York Times did somewhat the same thing today. They had a big piece that said, ‘his long history of racist comments.’ I read every one of them. Some of them weren’t even about race. Some of them were about Islam, Islam is not a race, it’s a faith. Many of them might be considered insensitive, but they weren’t racist. Racism means a very specific thing, it means a belief in the superiority of one race over another. And it is taboo in the United States as well as it should be.
But we need to be careful flinging this term because what has happened to this tragically is this great triumph of the civil rights movement making racism indefensible and intolerable has been weaponized. And the term now, the adjective racist is hurled around with and is the kind of thing that we in the news media need to stay out of the middle of. We shouldn’t be getting involved in this. We shouldn’t be throwing the word racist around with abandon. We should be very careful how we use it.
The media’s role Hume stated is to simply quote what was said accurately.
I agree. This is why I have refused to label King and use that term very sparingly.
Several media outlets, like The Des Moines Register and the Sioux City Journal, have published editorials calling on King to resign. In my opinion they can no longer be considered an impartial news source covering Iowa’s 4th Congressional District’s Republican primary.
I understand that the editorial pages are not impartial coverage nor meant to be, but it is the newspaper’s official position. The editorial board represents the leadership of the news organization. Are we to believe that their news coverage won’t be colored by this? Please. There is a reason why newspaper endorsements are made just prior to election day.
Lest I be called a hypocrite, I will point out that I have called for the resignation of a politician before. The most recent was State Senator Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines) after accusations of sexual misconduct were made and he did not deny it. (I should point out that the Des Moines Register’s editorial board did not call for Boulton’s resignation.)
So, if I were to call for King to resign how could anyone trust any news coverage I provide of the Iowa 4th Congressional District primary? They couldn’t.
So you can expect three things from me when I cover the Iowa 4th Congressional District Republican primary. 1. I will not defend any controversial statements made by King. 2. I will not apply a label to King or his comments. 3. I will remain neutral in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District’s Republican primary. In fact, I don’t anticipate making any endorsement in 2020 for any race. My desire is to cover the race impartially.