Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Donald Sterling Thinks He Owns Basketball Players, But Really Does Own the NAACP

Donald Sterling Thinks He Owns Basketball Players, But Really Does Own the NAACP

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For us at Black Agenda Report, the most telling angle on the story of Donald Sterling, the racist billionaire owner of the LA Clippers, was that the Los Angeles NAACP , which had been about to give Sterling a second – not a first but a second “Lifetime Achievement Award” eagerly stepped forward to offer redemption and forgiveness for the small cost of a few more strategic donations from the deep pockets of Donald Sterling.

This won't be the first time Sterling has purchased absolution for his many sins. In 2003 Sterling settled a housing discrimination lawsuit paying $5 million to plaintiff attorneys alone, and in 2006 he was accused again of refusing to rent apartments to African Americans and Latinos. But a steady stream of donations to big-name so-called civil rights organizations amounting at most to a few ten thousandths of his net worth, were sufficient to make it OK in the eyes of those outfits, and in the case of the NAACP, they were sufficient to get him that first “lifetime award.”

Depending on the rich and powerful to pay their bills while pretending to speak for the poor and oppressed is not a mere bug in the way our 21st century civil rights organizations function, it is a fundamental feature, baked into the bones not just of the NAACP, but of the National Urban League, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the National Conference of Black State Legislators, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Al Sharpton's National Action Network and many others of this kind.

In the practice of catching corporate racists with their pants down and extracting a franchise here, a dealership there, a TV show or hefty donations to worthy causes the hunter always gets captured by the game. In Georgia where I live, the Southern Christian Leadership Council got the CEO of Georgia Power to head up their building fund. Residents of Shell Bluff, a poor, mostly black town invited Rev. Joseph Lowery of SCLC to their town to show him their cancer epidemic, evidently caused by adiation from a leaking Georgia Power nuclear plant, while federal agencies refused to fund testing of their air, water, soil, wildlife or persons. Georgia Power is now building brand new nuclear plant next to the old ones with $800 million in loan guarantees from the Obama administration. But all that SCLC could do was tell them, “go vote.”

Wells Fargo had aggressively sold sub-prime mortgages to blacks, and is believed to have engaged in thousands or tens of thousands of the same kinds of robo-signings and illegal foreclosures that Bank of America pled guilty to. So after the bailout, Wells Fargo partnered with the NAACP to do “financial literacy” classes for youth. There are examples like this in any direction one cares to look.

Donald Sterling may imagine he owns basketball players. But he really does own the NAACP, just as surely as Verizon and Comcast, Aetna, Wal-Mart, MSNBC and others own the National Action Network, Rainbow-PUSH, the Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the rest of our politically bankrupt black misleadership class. For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at) or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20140430_bd_naacp_sterling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:48pm EDT

USA: Bad Jobs Country

USA: Bad Jobs Country

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.”

A new study shows that the U.S. economy has finally produced more jobs than there were before the Great Recession of 2008. The problem is, they’re mostly bad jobs in fast-food restaurants and low-wage retail. The National Employment Law Project found that there are almost two million fewer good paying jobs than there were back in 2008, but also close to two million more jobs in the low-wage sector of the economy – meaning, most of the new jobs have been bad jobs.

Actually, the change in the jobs picture during the Great Recession was just a speeded up version of what capitalism has been producing in the United States for more than 30 years. It is by design. Every time employers have turned the screws on labor, in terms of wages, benefits and jobs security, Wall Street has rewarded those companies. The Lords of Capital have also richly rewarded the politicians from both parties for removing the remaining obstacles to the direct rule of the rich.

Capital’s global plan is to reduce all workers to a state of absolute insecurity, so that they will accept those bad jobs without complaint. That requires the destruction of what we used to call the social safety net – a term that sounds increasingly quaint in the dog-eat-dog environment engineered into the system by Wall Street.

Make no mistake about it: austerity is the common program of both the business parties. That’s why you will hear no countervailing vision from the Democrats, whose message differs from Republicans only in tone, not in substance.Both answer to the Lords of Capital.

Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades.”

Barack Obama, the great actor and political chameleon, pretends to commiserate with his Democratic minority and working class constituents. Like his mentor, Bill Clinton, Obama claims to feel their pain. Yet, he is feverishly working to pass trade treaties that will further establish the legal structures of the global race to the bottom – treaties so blatantly biased towards corporations and against every principle of democracy and national sovereignty, that the language must be kept secret.

However, the main problem for American workers isn’t that Wall Street’s economic and social plans are secret – because, for the most part, they’re not. Big Capital’s intentions have been quite clear for decades. The NAFTA trade treaty has been savaging U.S. factory workers and Mexican peasants for 20 years. The Democrats were in power when the banks were set free to loot and plunder 15 years ago. Every employment study has tracked the steady decline of union membership, which the Democrats have done virtually nothing to reverse. That’s quite understandable since finance capital has steadily increased its campaign contributions to Democrats. None of this has been a secret, and no one should be surprised that, as a result, most new jobs are bad jobs. As far as Wall Street is concerned, that’s good news.

What makes the current era different from the past, is that neither of the business parties even bothers to pretend that it has a plan for a good jobs society. That means the people must put forward their own plan, through their own organizations – and learn to avoid the Democrats, whose job is to nip genuine people’s movements in the bud, so as not to disturb the corporate order.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140430_gf_BadJobs.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:40am EDT

“Chicagoland” Hero Cops Cook Books to Make Murders Disappear, CNN Pretends Not To Notice

“Chicagoland” Hero Cops Cook Books to Make Murders Disappear, CNN Pretends Not To Notice

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Chicagoland is a fake “documentary” an 8 part miniseries length campaign commercial currently airing on CNN. It's a commercial for Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a character many say was only elected mayor of Chicago because Obama personally came back to town to lay hands on him.

Chicagoland is produced by the same right wing hack outfit that produced Brick City, a similar commercial pretending to be a documentary for Corey Booker in his re-election bid for mayor in Newark a few years ago. Rahm Emanuel's bid for re-election is only months away, and like Corey Booker he is reputed to have ambitions beyond City Hall.

Chicagoland is a commercial for a neoliberal vision of America, in which teacher and public employee wages and pensions are driving the city to ruin – a lie; in which throwing public money at big league sports teams is a “job creator” and holds the city together – also a lie. It paints clever tax rules called TIFs an acronym for “tax increment financing” keep wealthy neighborhoods from having to share their property tax revenue with the rest of the city, as good economic development tools. Chicagoland portrays the mayor as a tough-talking character with a soft spot for black young people, whom he scoops at random off west side streets to mentor – if not a lie than surely beside the point. Chicagoland wants us to imagine that an epidemic of violence with no particular cause threatens to swamp the city, but Chicago's cops are the thin blue line succeeding under Emanuel's leadership at holding the murder rate down and making the city safe for all of us. Except that's a lie too.

In the months since the series was filmed, real Chicago journalists, have been question the city's suspect murder stats, and now the answers are in. Chicago's top cop Garry McCarthy, who as police chief in Newark co-starred in Brick City as well, cooked the books to make dozens of Chicago murders disappear the last couple years in a row. Homicides committed on freeways running through the city? Well those freeways are patrolled by the state police, so Rahm Emanuel's cops omit those from their stats. Month-old corpses found in vacant warehouses who died naked and tied to chairs? Gunshot wounds to the head? Cases like these have been classified as “unexplained deaths.” Not once or twice but dozens of times over the last couple years.

This is the same Chicago police department that throws tens of millions in public money out to settle cases where its brutal cops maim, mistreat and kill civilians. It's the same police department that pays a generous monthly pension to former police commander Jon Burge, convicted of supervising the torture and false confessions of dozens.

CNN bills itself as “the most trusted name in news.” It's given big play to “Chicagoland.” But CNN has yet to mention on the air how the supporting cast of its own campaign commercial actually does make the city safer, at least statistically, for us all.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at


Bruce A. Dixon is a native Chicagoan now living in exile in the suburbs of Atlanta, where he works as an IT professional and is co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20140423_bd_chicagoland_murders_disappear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:50pm EDT

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

Ford and IBM May Have to Answer for Their Role in Apartheid

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The judge rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits.”

The United States court system, whose value to anyone but the rich is rapidly disappearing, may yet play a role in the unfinished business of South African liberation. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that a group of South Africans can proceed with a suit against Ford Motor Company and IBM for doing business with the white regime during the time of apartheid. The plaintiffs include victims of torture and relatives of people killed by the racist government. They will have to prove, not only that the American corporations knew that their products would be used to oppress and torture South Africans, but that Ford and IBM’s purpose in doing business in the country was to “aid and abet” the white authorities.

That’s a very high burden of proof. However, it’s a better shot than the U.S. Supreme Court gave to a group of Nigerian refugees who tried to sue Shell Oil for helping the Nigerian military to systematically torture and kill environmentalists in the 1990s. The High Court’s interpretation of the relevant U.S. law was that the crimes committed in Nigeria didn’t have a close enough connection to the United States. However, the justices left the door open to other cases that might have a stronger connection to the U.S.

This week, federal judge Shira Scheindlin – the same judge who issued the sweeping ruling against New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies, last year – gave the South African plaintiffs permission to make their case. She also rejected Ford and IBM’s contention that multinational corporations are legally shielded from these kinds of lawsuits. Judge Scheindlin found no basis in law to argue that international laws against such things as genocide, slavery, war crimes and piracy “apply only to natural persons and not to corporations.”

The South African government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims.”

The South African plaintiffs are part of the Khulumani Group, which was created as a response to the weaknesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the new Black government of South Africa. The Khulumani activists say the government failed to prosecute perpetrators from the old regime and paid out only paltry reparations to the victims. Most importantly, the Black government that came to power in 1994 and its reconciliation program provided no redress for the systematic social and economic crimes of apartheid. The Khulumani Group agreed with Frank Meintjies, a South African activist and intellectual who wrote that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “failed to address the more collective loss of dignity, opportunities and systemic violence experienced by the oppressed.” He continued: “No hearings were held on land issues, on the education system, on the migrant labor system and on the role of companies that collaborated with, and made money from, the apartheid security system” – companies like Ford and IBM.

Thanks to the Khulumani Group’s lawsuit in Manhattan, two U.S.-based multinational corporations may finally have to explain why they gave aid and comfort to South African apartheid.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140423_gf_FordIBMSAfrica.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT

NAN, NAACP & Other Hypocritical "Civil Rights" Organizations Assert "Constitutional Right" To Conceal Their Corporate Funding Before the FCC

“Leading Civil Rights Organizations,” the headline on a story said, “Challenge FCC Rule Limiting Constitutional Freedoms.”

Good thing, you might think, our traditional civil rights bodies are on the lookout for threats to our constitutional freedoms. At least till you actually read the story. When you do, it turns out that  the NAACP, National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and Rainbow PUSH all object to a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule that would force them, whenever they weigh in on matters before the FCC, disclose who they're getting money from. 5

45 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, all the mainline national civil rights organizations depend heavily upon donations from broadcasters and telecommunications corporations from Comcast-NBC, AT&T, and Verizon, to Time-Warner, ABC-Disney, Sprint, T-Mobile. Some of their own top executives in recent years have come from these monopoly industries as well, and the deep pockets of broadcasters and telecoms have sponsored their own shadow organizations of minority entrepreneurs and spokespeople.

All of them, from the NAACP and Rainbow-PUSH to LULAC and the Minority Media & Telecommunications Partnership have in recent years backed state and federal legislation that keeps cities and towns from regulating cable networks or laying their own cable. They've all endorsed laws that bar cities and towns from spinning up their own broadband services which might compete with those of their donors or provide services to poor communities, to schools, libraries and small businesses in their communities that their donors do not. Every one of them opposes network neutrality and backs the digital redlining of black, brown and poor communities. Every one of these so-called civil rights organizations in recent years has backed the privatization or outright giveaway to their wealthy donors vast amounts of the electromagnetic spectrum which could and should have been set aside for community broadcasters and the public good. And of course, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” have unreservedly backed each and every proposed broadcaster and telecom merger, from AT&T's failed attempt to buy T-Mobile to the Comcast-NBC deal and they're lining up right now to back Comcast's current attempt to buy Time Warner cable as well.

Whenever the interests of monopoly broadcasters and telecoms clash with the interests of poor black and brown people, these corrupt “civil rights organizations” always side with their funders, never with their people. Disclosing their financial ties to telecoms and broadcasters in the very same forums where they shill for their donors will make their pretense to represent the poor and oppressed even more ludicrous.

Sixty years ago, during the struggle against Jim Crow segregation southern state governments tried to force the NAACP to hand over membership and other lists. Back then, being on such a list could mean losing one's job, one's home or business or one's life. A federal court ruled the NAACP didn't have to hand over their list. This, today's hypocritical “civil rights” organizations claim, as if the nameless and numberless families whose breadwinners lost their jobs, or who were firebombed out of their homes or evicted from plantations like Fannie Lou Hamer are somehow equivalent to what might happen to Verizon and ABC-Disney – is why they should be allowed to hide their donors. This is the “constitutional freedom” the black and brown misleaders of our civil rights organizations have mobilized to protect. It doesn't pass a smell test, it doesn't pass a laugh test, it doesn't pass a hypocrisy test.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at


Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is a state committee member of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20140416_bd_civil_rights_hypocrisy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:20pm EDT

Kagame: Murderer of Millions in Congo and Rwanda

Kagame: Murderer of Millions in Congo and Rwanda

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.”

Paul Kagame, the U.S.-backed warlord and dictator of Rwanda, last week accused France and Belgium of complicity in the mass killings in his country 20 years ago. It is true that France and Belgium, along with Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, are collectively responsible for the extermination of hundreds of millions – of whole peoples – all across the globe. However, in the case of the Rwanda genocide of 1994, the main criminals are Paul Kagame, himself, and his allies in neighboring Uganda and in the United States. After the frenzy of killing was done, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Ugandan strongman Yoweri Museveni then joined with Kagame to launch a war against the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo that has claimed six million lives – the greatest genocide, by far, since World War Two.

Back in 1994, Paul Kagame commanded thousands of Tutsi soldiers who had only recently been part of the Ugandan army, where Kagame served as chief of intelligence. Kagame had also studied at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His men invaded Rwanda, killing thousands of mostly Hutu civilians, in their drive to reestablish minority Tutsi rule over the country. In the midst of peace negotiations, someone shot down the plane that was carrying Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu and president of neighboring Burundi, a country with virtually the same history of Tutsi domination. The deaths of the two Hutu presidents set off renewed fighting – which the United States did nothing to prevent – resulting in the bloody return of the minority Tutsis to power, and the exile of over a million Hutus. Many tens of thousands of Hutus died before the presidents’ plane went down, and many more were slaughtered by Kagame’s forces afterwards but, thanks to western media, the 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda is almost universally remembered only as a genocide against Tutsis.

The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army.”

So, who shot down the presidents’ plane and set off this catastrophic chain of events? Paul Kagame and the United States make the fantastic claim that the Hutus killed their own presidents, in fear that they might sign a peace deal. There is no evidence of such a plot, which sounds counterintuitive on its face. The most logical murder suspect is Kagame’s own rebel Tutsi army,which was formed for the purpose of overthrowing Hutu majority governments in Rwanda and Burundi – that is, to bring down people like the dead presidents.

For 20 years, Kagame has posed as the soldier who stopped the Rwandan genocide, when all evidence and logic point to him being the main perpetrator of the crime. Three U.S. presidents have acted as Kagame’s eager accomplices, using the bloody cloak of Rwanda to carry out a far larger genocide in the eastern Congo, and to justify the bogus doctrine of humanitarian military intervention.

Paul Kagame, like Barack Obama, has an extensive “Kill List,” and sends assassins around the world to knock off his political opponents. His Tutsi regime is the only ethnic minority government left on the African continent – a darker version of apartheid. And yet, for the next several months notables from all around the globe will pay homage to Paul Kagame – a mass murdering thug and assassin – as if he is the savior of Africa.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140416_gf_Kagame.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

GA Poised To Greatly Expand Predatory Private Probation Industry

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A bill passed by both houses of the state legislature, landed on the desk of Georgia governor Nathan Deal last weekend. Georgia House Bill 837 is reportedly the result of about $500,000 in lobbying expenses by a single company, Sentinel Offender Services, the new law greatly expands the profitability and the impact of these predatory private probation companies upon the lives of poor families in Georgia.

Back in the 1990s, Georgia farmed out all its misdemeanor probation services to private companies. So when someone gets a DUI or similar offense, or misses a traffic court date and is sentenced to pay a $500 fine plus court costs, and cannot immediately produce the money, that person's case is handed over to a private company which immediately doubles or triples the amount extracted to cover its own costs and profits and interest. Private probation outfits can get the person sent to jail for late payment or non-payment, effectively a punitive tax upon the poor. This is why Georgia now leads the nation in the combined proportion of its residents in prisons, jails and under court and correctional probation and supervision of all kinds, an astounding one in thirteen adults.

Like all privatized government functions, whether its privatized parking, privatized voting machines, or privatized education, the private probation racket needs to keep the prying eyes of the public off itself. Accordingly the new legislation creates a dark zone, specifically shielding local governments and the privatizers from revealing how much money is actually remitted to local governments, how much they keep for themselves, how many cases they handle yearly, per case worker or at any one time, or how long they keep the cases.

HB 837 legalizes the up till now illegal, but common practice of charging probationers for their own electronic monitoring and other costs related to the handling of their cases, forcing the offender and her family to pay for their continuing house arrest. That's why the model is called “offender funded services”. Late payers can be jailed of course, and time spent in jail, under the new law does NOT count toward completion of the probation. Even now, persons are being locked up because they cannot afford the cost of land lines for the electronic monitoring gear.

It's not quite 19th century debtors' prison, a situation in which any creditor could demand you serve time for the crime of not being able to pay. So far the probation companies will be the only ones with this power. But it is a long step backward.

Georgia is one of those states which claims it's reducing the numbers of folks in its prisons and jails not because mass incarceration is unjust or discriminatory, but because it costs the states and counties too much. Funneling increasing numbers into punitive house arrest situations under the supervision of privatized middlemen who extract their profit directly from those on probation is a solution state authorities think they can live with.

Whether you live in Georgia or not, it's time to call Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776 and ask him whether he wants his state to continue to lead the nation in how many residents it has under correctional and court supervision. How many is too many? The present 1 in 13? Is he reaching for 1 in 12? For 1in 10? Politely suggest that he veto HB 837 and look instead for ways to curtail and shrink the predatory private probation industry instead of expanding it.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at


Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at) or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20140409_bd_private_probations_GA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

Al Sharpton: King Rat

Al Sharpton: King Rat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Everything he does is an act of prostitution.”

Al Sharpton is a crook who is always for sale. This is not an opinion, but a fact that is known in great detail to scores of movement activists whose paths have intersected with this talented but totally amoral hustler over the past 40 years. I personally watched him sell out the campaign to elect Jersey City, New Jersey’s first Black mayor, whom Sharpton had pledged to support, in 2001. Sharpton’s price to sow confusion among Black voters was a mere $5,000.

This was only one of countless career transactions by a man whose self-proclaimed role models are the entertainer James Brown and the boxing racketeer Don King. Sharpton has sold out Black New York City many times over through his well-compensated service to billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg. He sold out Black children and the institution of public education in a bizarre multi-city, salt-and-pepper tour with arch-racist Newt Gingrich on behalf of school charterization. The 2009 Sharpton-Gingrich traveling show, chaperoned by Education Secretary and Obama basketball buddy Arne Duncan, marked Sharpton’s rise to “made man” in the Obama organization – a pit bull primed to maul any political dissenters from the First Black President’s corporate agenda.

MSNBC, the corporate megaphone for the Democratic Party brand, provides Sharpton the kind of media platform that substitutes for independent Black leadership in the 21st century. Rev. Al is what he always wanted to be: a celebrity locked in the embrace of the rich and powerful.

Top of the political garbage heap.”

Sharpton will reach what will probably be the pinnacle of his phenomenally corrupt career on Friday, in New York, when the annual convention of his National Action Network will host President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sharpton’s traveling companion Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. If Sharpton were part of a genuine, independent Black political movement, the occasion would be an opportunity to confront the president on his global offensive against peace and world order, his militarization and destabilization of Africa, and his plans to step up the pace of the global economic Race to the Bottom through a new wave of NAFTA-like trade treaties. The convention might challenge the Attorney General to explain why Wall Street banks are too big to jail, but Americans can be imprisoned without charge or trial under a system in which the law, itself, is a secret. The National Action Network delegates would be allowed to ask why Black people in Detroit have been disenfranchised with the acquiescence of the Democrat in the White House, and how did it come to pass that President Obama became the greatest deporter of immigrants in U.S. history? The Agriculture Secretary could explain why the administration seemed positively happy to sign a bill that wipes out billions in food stamp benefits to the poor. But, none of this will happen at Sharpton’s convention, because everything he does is an act of prostitution.

In the presence of such monstrous corruption, recent confirmation that Sharpton was an informant for the FBI’s campaign against Italian mobsters in the early Eighties seems very tame, indeed – except that it also tends to confirm other allegations that he tried to rat on Black radicals during the same period. But today, Al Sharpton is at the top of the political garbage heap, the administration’s go-to guy in the sewers. He is King Rat.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to Black Agenda


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140409_gf_Sharpton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am EDT

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

Armstrong Williams Wants “Diversity” Favor from FCC

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Williams claims that he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective.”

The Federal Communications Commission this week dealt at least a potential blow to the monopolists who have sucked every drop of social value out of American commercial television. The FCC ruled that TV stations that sell substantial portions of other TV stations advertizing, are the real owners of the station, and thus are violating rules against multiple ownerships in the same market. The practice of joint advertizing has meant that many stations are little more than shells for getting around the rules against monopolization. The National Association of Black Journalists applauds the FCC action, since shared advertizing agreements usually mean firing the whole newsroom of one of the stations. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council supports the ruling, because the shared advertizing game only helps the media giants eat up the smaller guys.

One person who’s not happy is Armstrong Williams, the Black rightwing propagandist and hustler who calls himself a journalist. Williams owns two stations that are essentially extra channels for stations already owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, which is the largest operator of non-network affiliated stations in the country. Williams claims that Black people in Flint, Michigan, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will suffer if he loses his stations there, since he is known to provide broadcast content that reflects a minority perspective. Now, that’s a joke! Armstrong Williams, whose mentor was South Carolina’s rabidly racist Sen. Strom Thurmond, has never uttered or written a word that was relevant to the hopes and dreams of most Black people. In political terms, Armstrong Williams most closely resembles the character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.

The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit.”

But, more importantly, there is nothing on his TV stations that distinguishes them from any other corporate money machine. In Myrtle Beach, it’s a long day of Jerry Springer and People’s Court and Friends reruns, with news at 10 provided by a network owned by CBS and Warner Bros. In Michigan, his station is just another NBC affiliate, spewing the same bland corporate crap. The fact that the owner is Black doesn’t affect the stations’ broadcast schedules and program content one bit. It’s still garbage, of no socially redeeming value. Program-wise, it’s not even Black garbage.

Black people have no reason to be concerned about the survival of television stations that do not substantially serve their interests. It is true that Armstrong Williams has as much right as any white person to get rich from poisoning the airwaves – but that does not mean that we have to help him. And in fact, the airwaves still technically belong to the public. The government is obligated by law to ensure that the broadcast spectrum is put to uses that best serve the public. That means programming that is accountable to the public, including Black people.

There was a time when the FCC at least pretended to take public input seriously. The very fact that, two generations ago, the Black public could challenge the licenses of stations that ignored, abused or simply underserved them, created wondrous opportunities for intra-Black communications – opportunities that have been wiped out by corporate consolidation.

The FCC may well make an exception to its own joint advertizing ruling, on “diversity” grounds. And, that would be a victory – for Armstrong Williams. However, Black people as a whole will have won nothing, and lost a great deal.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140402_gf_FCC.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT