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Roots Radio DC: Taking It To the Streets


Update:  Mike Stark needs volunteers over at DailyKos.  If you’re a Kossack please go recommend his diary and lend him a hand. 

I find it rather curious that Ben Domenech’s defenders continue to proclaim loud and long that his remarks were not, in fact, racist.

Perhaps I’m wrong.  Is the criticism of "racist" applicable to comments made about Coretta Scott King being a Communist on the day of her funeral, echoing the smears of bigots aiming to discredit the Kings around the time of the Montgomery bus boycott in the 50s?  Was it racist to proclaim that because she was a Communist, it was thus inappropriate for the President to be in attendance at that funeral?

Ben’s supporters maintain that he apologized for this.  According to Howard Kurtz, Ben said "I regret using the term because I think it’s been way overblown."  He also stood his ground about Mrs. King’s associations, saying "Mrs. King participated in many different political causes, some of which involved associations with questionable people." 

I wrote about this over at AlterNet this morning.  Now maybe I am in the minority who feel that this kid is a privileged little shit not fit to be scraped from the shoes of Coretta Scott King.  Maybe I am the only one who is concerned that this was the response of the’s Editor in Chief, who has announced that he intends to hire another conservative to fill Ben’s evacuated shoes:

Brady called it "a silly comment" but said he is satisfied with Domenech’s admission of error.

Okay, fine.  I’m willing to admit maybe I’m wrong here.  I think the larger question is — will the Washington DC community who comprise the Post’s subscriber base agree that these comments are not racist, and that this is an appropriate racial perspective for a columnist?  Will they find Domenech’s comment "silly?"

As  the first installment of our Roots: Radio project, in conjunction with our radio consultants Mike Stark and Taylor Marsh, along with our advisor and partners Steve Gilliard and Crooks & Liars, we are going to take this debate to DC radio and find out.

Jack Shafer was busy defending  his fellow Washington Post Newsweek employee Jim Brady over at Slate, and although he cites Matt Stoller and acknowledges the "racist impulses" of Red State he does not deal with Ben’s comments about Coretta Scott King.  And this is the rub for me.  Shafer would have us believe that Brady’s investigation of Domenech would not have necessarily looked for instances of plagiarism, and in that I would actually agree with him.  

But there is no excuse for Brady not having known about Domenech’s views on race.  And I assume, since he claimed to have read nearly everything Domenech wrote, that he undoubtably did know — and found them acceptable.   Because neither Brady, Kurtz nor Shafer have dealt with this publicly, it’s reasonable to believe that when the does in fact hire another conservative blogger they will have no problem with someone who has the same views, just as the LA Times finds it acceptable to print this today from Jonah Goldberg..  

The Washington Post seems to forget that they are not there to dance like puppets on strings pulled by the White House.  The power they have to be at the party in the first place comes from their subscriber base.  The recent demonstrations in Los Angeles show the power of Hispanic radio in their ability to deliver a half million people on to the streets to protest the racism of Sensenbrenner and other Republicans.  Has the Washington Post become so disconnected from its largely African American community and become so besotted by George Bush that they forget who is actually paying their bills?  The ones their advertisers are paying to reach?

Mike Stark, he of the Bill O’Reilly and Andrew Wilkow fame will once again be leading the charge.  Over at Kos he is recruiting people to help him do investigative work into DC radio.  We need the names of stations, of hosts, of time slots.  We need the emails of producers that I will glady contact in order to see if they will have us on the air and talk about it.  We need people willing to volunteer to call in to talk radio and bring the subject up.  We need to take the story wide.

The dodged a bullet when Domenech disappeared so fast, the story never really traveled out into the community.  We need to fix that.  Please go over to Kos and press the recommend button and help Mike out in this, phase 1 of our "Roots DC" plan.  Let’s see if the DC community thinks the whole thing is "silly."  Maybe I’m wrong.  But maybe they don’t.

And maybe it will be a wake-up call to the Washington Post to remember who they work for. 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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