On Monday, CBS This Morning lined up so-called “experts” on race relations to accuse “white Americans” of being “taught” to have “contempt for black life” and that racism was like “dust in the air,” something “ingrained in our society.” The nasty blanket statements were treated as objective fact rather than radical declarations.
“After the death of George Floyd, we’re taking a look at the history of the fear of black men in American society and how it often ends in violence against them,” co-host Gayle King announced as she introduced a segment in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour. The headline on-screen blared: “History of Fear; Experts Explain Why Some Conflate Blackness With Crime.”
In the report that followed, correspondent Michelle Miller described reaction to Floyd’s death over the past week: “Protestors around the world have taken to the streets to call out police brutality and the systemic racism against black people.” That was followed by a clip of a white female protestor ranting: “My sign says ‘White Silence = White Violence.’ And I want everybody to recognize that, because white people are the people oppressing black people.” That set the tone for the rest of the story.
Moments later, Miller cited left-wing author Tim Wise arguing that “it’s not fear that drives people to conflate blackness with crime, but power and a disregard for some people of color.” In a soundbite, Wise railed:
American history is one in which white Americans, by and large, have been taught to have indifference or even contempt for black life. We have defined the country as a white nation where people of color are here on a guest pass. And it’s a guest pass that we think we can revoke.
The reporter then turned to leftist CBS News contributor Ibram X. Kendi warning that “since the Jim Crow era, white people have had the right of using the police to their advantage.” Kendi explained: “They recognize that they have the privilege to call a police officer with the belief that the police officer, even if they’re in the wrong, will be on their side.”
The final “expert” featured was teacher Jane Elliott, who lectured: “You need to educate yourself as to the truth of this situation instead of believing the lie that has been promulgated in this country for the last 400 years. The lie of several different races and the lie of the rightness of whiteness. It’s a lie.”
Miller remarked: “She does not mince words.”
Later in the 8:30 a.m. ET half hour, King interviewed former basketball star and left-wing activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who seized on the turmoil to defend former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, bash Republicans, and claim racism was “ingrained in our society.”
King marveled over a “very powerful op-ed” he wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “Let me just say, your op-ed brought tears to my eyes. The headline is ‘Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge.’” Abdul-Jabbar launched into a list of grievances while seeming to justify some of the violence seen at the protests:
Everybody, I think, remembers what Colin Kaepernick went through. And his protest was a peaceful protest about this very issue, and he was ostracized, he lost his job, and he was blackballed for it. That was peaceful protest. That’s what it got him. That’s the benefit that it got him. And nothing has changed since then....White cops still can act with impunity and kill people that they feel like they want to kill. It’s got to stop someplace, and powerless people have no voice. A lot of them are losing their opportunity to vote because the Republicans are working very hard to limit voter participation. So what tools do these people have to effect change?
King followed up: “‘Racism in America,’ you said, ‘is like dust in the air.’ Explain what you mean by that.” Abdul-Jabbar happily obliged:
Well, it’s just like if – have you ever been in a room and there’s something – you feel a little something itching in your nose? There’s a – something in the air, a dust or pollen that you can’t see....Racism is like that. It’s ingrained in our society and it’s taken for granted. And all of the things that are taken for granted can accumulate and be deadly on certain segments of the population. And it comes down on the heads of poor people and people of color.
Rather than have a thoughtful discussion about race relations and bring in a wide variety of perspectives on the incredibly complex topic, CBS instead decided to just automatically paint all white people as villains who don’t care if black people live or die. How does that kind of rhetoric bring people together to address such a serious issue?
Here is a full transcript of Miller’s June 1 report:
8:17 AM ET
GAYLE KING: After the death of George Floyd, we’re taking a look at the history of the fear of black men in American society and how it often ends in violence against them. CBS This Morning Saturday co-host Michelle Miller shows us just some of the unjust and racist accusations over the years – it’s a long timeline. She’s in New York’s Union Square, the scene of protests over Floyd’s death. Michelle, good morning to you.
MICHELLE MILLER: Good morning, Gayle. As you well know, racial inequalities reveal themselves in many ways throughout American society, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the criminal justice system, where black men often find themselves on the wrong side of the law because someone has falsely accused them.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: History of Fear; Experts Explain Why Some Conflate Blackness With Crime]
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [PROTESTOR]: Something needs to happen. We’re at the point where we’re not getting killed every day
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [PROTESTOR]: We feel like we haven’t been heard. Our voices haven’t been heard, because it keeps happening.
MILLER: Protestors around the world have taken to the streets to call out police brutality and the systemic racism against black people.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B [PROTESTOR]: My sign says “White Silence = White Violence.” And I want everybody to recognize that, because white people are the people oppressing black people.
MILLER: The problems were exposed with the killing of George Floyd, allegedly by police in Minneapolis.
GEORGE FLOYD: Please, please! Please, I can’t breathe!
MILLER: And once again with last week’s now-infamous 911 call by Amy Cooper to New York City police, after a black bird watcher asked her to leash her dog.
AMY COOPER: This is a man, African-American, he has a bicycle helmet, he is recording me and threatening me and my dog.
MILLER: The list of false claims against African-American men goes back decades. 1989 in Boston.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN C [REPORTER]: Charles Stuart shot and killed his pregnant wife and wounded himself, but told police a black man did it.
MILLER: A murderous South Carolina mother, five years later.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B [REPORTER]: In 1994, Susan Smith claimed she was carjacked by a black man who took off with her two young sons in the back seat.
MILLER: And last month in Florida, after the drowning of a 9-year-old autistic boy allegedly by his mom.
MIKE CUANO [FLORIDA REPORTER]: According to police, the mother, Patricia Ripley, as you mentioned, made up the story about her son, Alejandro, getting abducted by two black men.
TIM WISE: Why is that we would be so quick to blame black folks in these cases for things they didn’t do? It’s because they all knew that that would – or at least they felt that that would be believed.
MILLER: Author and educator Tim Wise says it’s not fear that drives people to conflate blackness with crime, but power and a disregard for some people of color.
WISE: American history is one in which white Americans, by and large, have been taught to have indifference or even contempt for black life. We have defined the country as a white nation where people of color are here on a guest pass. And it’s a guest pass that we think we can revoke.
MILLER: CBS News contributor Ibram X. Kendi is a professor at American University. He says since the Jim Crow era, white people have had the right of using the police to their advantage.
IBRAM X. KENDI: They recognize that they have the privilege to call a police officer with the belief that the police officer, even if they’re in the wrong, will be on their side.
MILLER: It’s a painful history that educator Jane Elliott has been trying to fight for more than 50 years.
JANE ELLIOTT: I mean, the blue-eyed people are the better people in this room.
MILLER: Her famous brown eyes versus blue eyes experiment assigned heightened status to third-grade students based on those arbitrary parameters, in an effort to teach them about discrimination.
ELLIOTT: It’s time to recognize people as they are, which is human beings. We’re all in the same race. You need to educate yourself as to the truth of this situation instead of believing the lie that has been promulgated in this country for the last 400 years. The lie of several different races and the lie of the rightness of whiteness. It’s a lie.
MILLER: She does not mince words. But I want to tell you about a study published last year by multiple universities that found that black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. But that study also found that police killings are the sixth leading cause of death among men of all races, ages 25 to 29. Think about that.
KING: I am thinking about that, Michelle. I really – I look forward to the day where black people in this country are not first judged as suspects and not law-abiding citizens first. I worry now when my son goes to walk his dog in L.A., in the climate that we’re living in. I get very worried just when he steps outside doing ordinary things to walk the dog. And he said to me that somebody said to him, be tired, be exhausted, but never be diminished. So I try to hold on to that. But these are very scary times, very frightening times we’re living in. I thank you for that story, it’s very important to show the history. Thank you very much.