Dave Weigel is certainly making the most of his time guest-blogging for Andrew Sullivan. I missed this on Wednesday, but Weigel has a particularly harsh take on Megyn Kelly‘s driven (some might argue obsessive) coverage of the Black Panthers story. Much like the ACORN story, which was eventually driven into the mainstream news by Fox’s relentless coverage, the New Black Panther Party story, up until recently relegated to the periphery, seems to be making a stab into the MSM partly in thanks to Kelly, whose explosive exchange with Kirsten Powers on the subject earlier this week went viral online. Weigel has a few theories on why this might be. Some less nefarious than others.
Broadly speaking he thinks Kelly is covering the Panther story because makes for good television: “Fox News uses the Panthers the way that Phil Donohue used to use the KKK or G.G. Allin. They’re good on TV.” But then he speculates that Kelly may have some darker motives — or at least is creating darker outcomes.
One of the more jarring passages in Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” is his recounting of a popular myth that went around Iowa in 1966, the year of the conservative backlash against the Great Society. The myth was that black gang members on motorcycles were going to head from Chicago to ransack Des Moines. Reading this in 2008, it sounded preposterous, the kind of thing that no one could believe in the country that was about to elect Barack Obama. But Kelly, under the guise of journalism, is working to create a rumor like this in 2010. Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder’s DOJ.
“I am extremely sure that we do not have a policy at the Department of Justice of never prosecuting a black defendent.”
The crowd rises up. “Yes you do!” shouts one voter. When Sherman says he doesn’t know much about the Panther case, the crowd erupts in boos. They’ve been driven to fear and distrust of their DOJ by round-the-clock videos of one racist idiot brandishing a nightstick for a couple hours in 2008.
I think it’s a bit of a stretch to accuse Megyn Kelly of scheming to achieve widespread civilian paranoia. Whether that’s the result, I think a much fairer assessment would be to say Kelly, who only landed her current anchor spot at 1pm in February, has found a ratings niche and is attempting to make the most of it — the repercussions of which only make for further headlines. Something I doubt has escaped either Kelly’s or Fox News’ attention.
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