ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

Google
 

 

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on

September 11. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, delivered one such

warning. . . . What did this Administration know, and when did it know

it about the events of September 11?  Who else knew and why ?

 

Andrea Roberts                                                                                                             Cynthia McKinney 

 

 

A War on Error

National Security, the Media, & Cynthia McKinney 

By Andrea Roberts

 
 McKinney's supporters believe the media is partly to blame for her defeat two years ago. ‘ She's been unfairly portrayed,’ said Janice Lowe of Decatur. ‘They were saying she was talking too much about issues she wasn't knowledgeable about. But she was very much knowledgeable, and the media didn't want to talk about that.— Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press, October 17, 2004[i]

 

Cynthia McKinney’s 2004 US Congressional election for the Georgia’s 4th Congressional District seat provides an interesting case study for those attempting to assess fairness in media coverage of women. Elected in 1992 as the first African American female that Georgia voters ever sent to Congress, Democrat Cynthia McKinney served for five terms. However, when her critique of the Bush administration’s actions before and after September 11 hit the headlines, McKinney’s relationship with the press became contentious.

A review of articles, television talk show transcripts, and radio interviews from 2002 through 2004 leads one to wonder: Was the media’s coverage of McKinney’s position on national security issues fair? Did gender play a role in that coverage? Does McKinney, as an African American female candidate, frame national security issues successfully or unsuccessfully for the media?

After comparing the media coverage of her successful 2004 campaign to coverage of her 2002 primary defeat, a symbiotic yet antagonistic relationship between McKinney and the press emerges. Her loss during the 2002 primary battle with Denise Majette is largely attributed to McKinney’s comments on the “War on Terror” and the Bush administration’s actions before and after September 11, 2001. These national security issues continued to influence media coverage of McKinney’s 2004 campaign.

To determine if the media’s coverage was fair or not, one can scrutinize the manner in which the mass media describe McKinney and her positions, point out instances when the media portray her national security positions as unconvincing, and will illuminate the media’s use of stereotypes to manipulate or obscure the candidate’s position.

Specifically, a review of the media coverage  or what her supporters might describe as a “passion play, will determine to what degree her media treatment can be attributed to her gender, race, non-traditional campaign style, or a combination of all these factors.

Prologue

In the early 1990s, Cynthia McKinney became one of the most potent political symbols for women’s progress. She was a potent symbol, because her appearance enabled the press to paint the picture of a modern day Sojourner Truth or other notable feminist icon. In the June 1995, article “Move Over, Boys” Laure Quinlivan wrote, “No congresswoman attracts more attention than Cynthia McKinney does. She wears bright colors, African prints, flowing silk gowns, and pants outfits she describes as "high ethnic”. McKinney was undaunted by the attention she received;

The men are taken aback by it, but they love it," says McKinney. "I've even had some Neanderthal-type Republicans tell me that they like to look across the aisle and see what I'm wearing. I don't know how to take it, so I just smile and say thank you."[i]

Far from threatening, McKinney seemed like the quintessential African-American heroine, attractive, yet simultaneously strong–sweet honey in a rock. In the halls of Congress, where she was a double minority, African-American and female, she developed a thick skin in the face of many who questioned her very right to share that space. Surprisingly, women were often the most surprised to see women in the halls of Congress.

McKinney says an elevator operator once refused to take her anywhere, stubbornly repeating "Members only." McKinney was unable to convince the operator she was a member until she showed her pin. The elevator operator was a young woman.

African American women, so often relegated to the position of an assistant in the background not only have their presence questioned in powerful arenas, but experience complete invisibility. Quinlivan writes

Mistaken identity is so commonplace; it's not regarded as a big deal. What's worse is no identity. McKinney says sometimes it's as if the women don't exist.

She's on the International Relations Committee, which met a few months ago with British Prime Minister John Major. After the meeting, members gathered for a photo. "One member was walking out the door, and they kept calling, 'Come get in this picture,'" says McKinney. "And I'm standing there, and nobody told me to come up and get in. I waited until they all got perfectly posed, and then I called out, 'There's something wrong with this picture, y'all.' Then I ran up and got in”, she laughs.

The media would later learn that there was nothing commonplace about Cynthia McKinney. From the outset, the media framed her as a controversial politician because of her outspokenness on foreign policy and her opposition to the 1991 Iraq War while serving in the Georgia State Legislature.

This anti-war stance, would lead women civic leaders in the 4th District to urge McKinney to run for Congress. News features from mainstream and ethnic publications bragged that McKinney represented a new wave of African American leadership. During her first 10 years in Congress, McKinney was committed to representing the interests of the rural poor, securing health benefits for veterans, supporting gun control, and drafting legislation on behalf of poor Georgia farmers.

The daughter of a political father, McKinney had what was a rarity among female politicians, an extensive educational background in foreign policy. She drew heavily from her B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California, MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and ongoing pursuit of a Ph.D. at Berkeley, to inform her outspoken positions on national security and foreign policy.[ii]

By early 2001, McKinney who won most of her campaigns by large margins was nicknamed by the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Duane D. Stanford “Mt. McKinney.” To the press and most of the political establishment, Mt. McKinney was unstoppable.[iii]

NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE 2002 CAMPAIGN:

Cynthia McKinney talks foreign policy and national security

What introduced the issue of fairness into the 2002 election? Some would argue, McKinney’s statements made on the KPFA Pacifica Radio talk show “Flashpoints” set off the political firestorm. The interview pushed to the surface the difficulties the media encountered when attempting to objectively report on 9/11 and national security issues since September 11, 2001.

More specifically, McKinney’s quotes from this interview relating to accountability and the failure of some government intelligence to reach the correct officials would make her a target of vitriolic attacks from several quarters. In the interview, McKinney read an Op-ed piece she composed which began: “This is Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and this is my commentary and thought on our war against terrorism.”[iv]

The words that followed were distorted and their meaning fabricated by several mainstream news organs, including the Washington Post and National Public Radio. What was it about her take on the War on Terror and Bush administration national security policies that created such a stir on March 25, 2002? As is usually the case, at issue was what she did not say rather than what she actually said that day.

Her op-ed included her position on the Patriot Act, free speech, foreign policy toward Africa, and the costs of war to average Americans. She even took the media to task, arguing that “Now is the time for our elected officials to be held accountable. Now is the time for the media to be held accountable. Why aren't the hard questions being asked?” (Even the New York Times editorial staff now concedes harder questions should have been asked prior to the War in Iraq.) The oft quoted and most manipulated section of her thirty-minute interview and statement are in context below:

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, delivered one such warning. Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American airlines, certain insurance and brokerage firms' stocks. What did this Administration know, and when did it know it about the events of September 11? Who else knew and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?

September 11 erased the line between "over there" and "over here.” The American people can no longer afford to be detached from the world, as our actions abroad will have a direct impact on our lives at home. In Washington, DC, decisions affecting home and abroad are made and too many of us leave the responsibility of protecting our freedoms to other people whose interests are not our own. From Durban to Kabul to Atlanta to Washington, what our government does in our name is important. It is now also clear that our future, our security, and our rights depend on our vigilance.[v]

Actually, on the surface the statement does not look particularly controversial. It argues that America needed to be “more vigilant” in the fight against terrorists while simultaneously keeping elected officials and the media accountable. The statements that seemed to invite the press to have an open season on McKinney were those that referred to government warnings of the 9/11 attacks and her war profiteering accusations.

To learn exactly what McKinney meant when she questioned the administration, journalists would have to read or listen to the remainder of the interview. She explains that there were several warnings and anonymous tips to the CIA and FBI, to foreign informants and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial. She even explains the particular Bush business interests that would have profited should the US attack Afghanistan. She told Dennis Bernstein that she received racist and sexist hate mail for the positions she took.

It wasn’t until after her electoral defeat, that she was able to establish that, “I'm officially and on the record stating my objection to the characterization of my remarks . . . as me saying or suggesting or implying or inferring . . . that Bush allowed Sept. 11 to happen so that his friends could make money.”[vi]

McKinney made every effort to clarify her position, but to no avail. So instead, she tried to bolster herself by appealing to her supporters through national appeals, though it was difficult to pinpoint just whom they were so soon after 9/11 when Democrats were divided over the US war on terror. Less than a month after the Bernstein interview, McKinney maintained, “there is nothing so radical about requesting an investigation.” McKinney explains that

"We hold thorough public inquiries into rail disasters, plane crashes, and even natural disasters in order to understand what happened and to prevent them from happening again or minimizing the tragic effects when they do. Why then does the Administration remain steadfast in its opposition to an investigation into the biggest terrorism attack upon our nation?" [vii]

Even though McKinney saw her questions as straightforward and consistent with mainstream American concerns, conventional wisdom on women and national security contends candidates like McKinney are simply off message.

In “Speaking with Authority,” a primer on speaking convincingly on national security issues, research indicates that some of the least effective language for women includes those on humanitarian efforts and encouraging democracy abroad. Ironically, though these were messages used by the administration to validate its current venture in Iraq, the research contends that women have to stick to messages on “cooperation and safety, public health and preparedness.”[viii]

A possible male-female double standard could account for some of the manipulation of McKinney’s “Flashpoint” interview with the show’s host, Dennis Bernstein. R. Scott Moxley of the OC Weekly in California argued sexism could account for what he called the “media roast” of Cynthia McKinney when he described how white male national security critics walk away from the bully pulpit unscathed.

The author points out that at first glance, Congress Members Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Democrat Cynthia McKinney have very little in common. However, Moxley writes that the white male, Rohrabacher and African American female, McKinney have each:

o        Placed significant responsibility for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on White House negligence. (McKinney blasted President George W. Bush, and Rohrabacher slammed former President Bill Clinton, who had been out of office for eight months when the hijackings occurred.)

o        Demanded congressional investigations into why federal-intelligence agencies failed to detect the terrorist plot.

o        Blamed the U.S. for fostering an international environment that allowed anti-American sentiment and Osama bin Laden to rise in the Middle East. (McKinney speculated that Bush is driven primarily by a desire to aid oil companies hoping to build a major pipeline in Afghanistan; Rohrabacher hasn’t sugarcoated his belief that the U.S. had acted "immorally or amorally" in the Middle East and that "sometimes it comes back to haunt you.")[ix]

According to Moxley, McKinney was subjected to name calling from Sean Hannity “and found herself pegged publicly as a ‘nut’ and ‘traitor.’”[x]

In contrast, Moxley writes, “the media circus that featured McKinney as a clown somehow never considered Rohrabacher.” When reviewing a laundry list of reasons for the disparity in media attention, Moxley wonders, “Is it that he slammed a politically acceptable target, Clinton, while McKinney had the audacity to question George W. Bush, whom we’re all supposed to revere during wartime? Is the problem that McKinney is an outspoken, assertive black woman?”

He maintains that race and sex may have made McKinney a better media target than Rohrabacher.

Reporters and pundits filtered McKinney’s analysis of the war on terror and the global political economy down to pejoratives and engaged in name-calling. Some articles emphasized the schism between her and some of the Democratic Party in order to marginalize further her opinions. “When McKinney accused President Bush of ignoring warnings of the Sept. 11 attacks so his friends in the defense industry could make money from a war, even other Democrats criticized the comment. Sen. Zell Miller, a fellow Georgia Democrat, called it "loony.”[xi]

Even in 2004, a conservative, radio talk show host even went so far as to call McKinney, "the cutest little Islamic jihadist."[xii]

The face off between Majette and McKinney opened old southern wounds. What some might see as a sign of great American progress, two African American women running for office in the former Jim Crow South, instead became an occasion to act out old racist and sexist stereotypes of black women.

An editorial Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.), in telling the Charlotte Observer that Mr. Lott needed to step down, noted – as the paper put it Friday – that "some of his constituents might empathize with Lott's remarks, and acknowledged that one black colleague so provoked him that 'I must I admit I had segregationist feelings.' “That colleague, the paper reports, was Georgia Democrat Cynthia McKinney. “If I had to listen to her, I probably would have developed a little bit of a segregationist feeling,” he told the paper. "But I think everybody can look at my life and what I've done and say that's not true. . . . I mean, she was such a bitch.”[xiii]

In this, short December 2002 Washington Post editorial, “The Segregationist Caucus,” race and sex emerged as more central to the congresswoman’s interactions with colleagues than substance. This occurred after Lott’s gaff at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party.

McKinney’s outspokenness on issues often reserved for male candidates like national security revealed the way her colleagues and the media handles outspoken African American women who don’t always follow their political party’s talking points. Contempt for her race and sex arise from the unique discrimination for African American females. For African American women, these oppressions are inextricably linked to one another. McKinney is resented, called a “bitch” and seen as outside her place or station as an African American sharing the halls of Congress with men of Ballenger’s ilk.

The anecdote to the outspoken Cynthia McKinney was Denise Majette. Majette voted for Alan Keyes for President and even questioned whether affirmative action was still necessary. She contrasted with McKinney even though both were Democratic Party candidates and African American females. Their Democratic primary race exemplifies American characterizations of Black females that are several decades old, the sapphire vs. mammy stereotypes.

Carla Bradley, in her analysis of African American professional women writes that:

 A discussion of the characterization of the African American professional woman is complex because society has defined her in constraining and degrading ways. Two primary stereotypical images that society has of African American women are the "Mammy" and "Sapphire.”

The "Mammy" typecast is rooted in the history of slavery when an actual mammy was the primary caretaker of the master's household (Mitchell & Herring, 1998). She was often stout, dark-skinned, and obsequiously devoted to the master and his family. Historically, the media has portrayed her as happy and always ready to soothe everyone's hurt and service their needs (Yarbrough & Bennett, 2000). Hooks (2000) and Smith (1999) have contended the "Mammy" image is perhaps the most pervading and desirable image of African American women among White Americans. 

Opposite of the nurturing "Mammy" is the "Sapphire" stereotype. "Sapphire" was a character from the 1950's television show, Amos and Andy. She was the "nagging,” "complaining,” and "sassy" wife of her television husband Kingfish. 

Because of her loud and obnoxious behavior, she was often ignored by her husband and viewed as unintelligent and incompetent by the people around her. Several African American women scholars (Benjamin, 1997; Smith, 1999; Turner, 2002) have espoused that African American women who are confident, intelligent, and assertive in their professional responsibilities can be perceived as being a "Sapphire.”[xiv]

Newsrooms manufacture a Democratic primary race that repeatedly calls Majette quiet.

In contrast, coverage of McKinney builds a character that serves as a loud, bombastic, off-topic and out of touch foil to Majette. In an Associated Press Writer’s article “Quiet judge unseats outspoken Cynthia McKinney for Congress,” reporter Kristen Wyatt’s take on the race between two African American females becomes more of a spectacle than a documentation of history in the making.

In a strange hybrid of racism and sexism, Wyatt recounts a Fourth of July parade in which she points out that Majette smaller less expensive car tails McKinney’s more expensive car. Readers are encouraged to side with a perceived underdog like Majette. Wyatt almost editorializes that McKinney doesn’t know her place and Majette rightly knows her boundaries, because she leaves national security issues out of her platform.

The reporter perceived a certain type of dichotomy between the candidates and projected that onto the reader. Wyatt writes on that

Majette wondered whether maybe another black woman could do the job better. An attorney and Yale University graduate, Majette figured she was capable of upholding Democratic principles without butting heads with national figures over matters that don't directly affect DeKalb County[xv].

McKinney represented the “Sapphire” in the 2002 Democratic Primary versus the awful mammy stereotype projected onto the more conservative Denise Majette that several black and white Democrats and cross over Republican DeKalb county voters found more palatable. The safe versus unsafe African American female sentiment emerges in this exchange between PBS’s Gwen Ifill and Norman Ornstein, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute[xvi]

GWEN IFILL: Norman, in the end two African-American college- educated well-spoken women with high profiles at least as the campaign wore on, were they more different than alike in the end?

NORMAN ORNSTEIN: You know, there are some similarities there certainly but there's a difference in approach and ideology. Cynthia McKinney, as she said is proud to call herself a liberal. In many respects she's pretty much on the fringe left. That was true of Arthur... of Earl Hilliard in Alabama as well. Denise Majette is mainstream. You couldn't call her a conservative but she is more moderate in many issues including some social issues and economic issues - and obviously a very accomplished person. 

Greg Palast insinuates that because McKinney requested hearings into matters thought to be off limits, the press and other politicians often targeted her. When recalling the congressional representative’s fight for hearings on foreign policy and trade matters, he writes, “Did I mention to you that (ex-) Congresswoman McKinney is black? And not just any kind of black. She’s the uppity kind of black.”[xvii]

McKinney missed several opportunities to frame the campaign as being about more than 9/11. Because both candidates were African American females, reporters seemed drawn to Majette, a relative new comer. Majette took advantage of media opportunities to steer debates away from national security. She even maintained that the predominately African American 4th district was not concerned with national security issues. Several reporters editorialized that McKinney had no right to opine on national security or foreign policy.

Kristin Wyatt, for example writes that Majette, “stops short of criticizing the incumbent. When asked about McKinney's comments about Bush or her perceived support of Palestinians, Majette just shrugged. "That's not my issue," she said. "I want to talk about money for public schools. I want to talk about prescription drug coverage for seniors. I want to build coalitions in this district. That's what people really care about.”[xviii]

Greg Palast adds that the press even tried to distance McKinney from African American leaders and political gatekeepers in order to make her statements seem even less legitimate.

The New York Times wrote about McKinney that Atlanta’s “prominent Black leaders – including Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP and former Mayor Maynard Jackson – who had supported Ms. McKinney in the past – distanced themselves from her this time.”

Really? Atlanta has four internationally recognized black leaders. Martin Luther King III did not abandon McKinney. I checked with him. Nor did Julian Bond (the Times ran a rare retraction on their website at Bond’s request).[xix] 

The media uses stereotypes/sexism to manipulate or obscure the candidate’s position. Rather than the substance of her position on national security, reporters gravitated toward what they determined to be the most controversial statements and manipulated them.

Simultaneously, reporters distilled McKinney’s political positions down to negative physical words and mouth-oriented and voice metaphors. Melanie Eversley, an Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter, titled one of her articles, “What will she say next? Rep. Cynthia McKinney makes outrageous statements, wins by big margins.”[xx]

Other titles echoing this sentiment include “Quiet judge unseats outspoken Cynthia McKinney for Congress” and “McKinney Mouths Off.” Here again, McKinney’s positions on the issues are obscured through the silver-tongued “Sapphire” stereotype perpetuated by many female and male reporters. These metaphors served to obscure and poke fun of the candidate rather than give any credence to her ideas.

Eversely’s article does attempt to produce a more balanced approach to covering the campaign by pointing out how McKinney’s sentiments did resonate with a substantial portion of her district. The author even gave contextual evidence explaining McKinney’s by interviewing university professors and residents of DeKalb County that are sympathetic to their congressional representative.

The reporter explains why McKinney’s constituents may have an easier time doubting the transparency of the federal government.

Whatever the reactions, political observers say McKinney is simply serving her constituents – mostly African-American Democrats. Her district has been compared with Prince George's County in Maryland, just outside Washington, as a haven for the African-American middle class.
So when McKinney talks of the government conspiracies in the 1960s to defame the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some Congress members may point out that that was in the past and label her paranoid. However, people in her district can remember how stung they felt when they learned of the operation.[xxi]

MEDIA MANIPULATION OF MCKINNEY’S STATEMENTS

Greg Palast wrote extensively about the way reporters and journalists manipulated McKinney’s statements in print and on air. In “The Screwing of Cynthia McKinney,” Palast, an American BBC and Guardian reporter working abroad, calls journalists who mischaracterized McKinney’s March 25 statements. He begins by listing some of the more outrageous extrapolations made by mainstream news sources:

The New York Times’ Lynette Clemetson revealed her comments went even further over the edge: “Ms. McKinney suggest[ed] that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.”

That’s loony, all right. As an editor of the highly respected Atlanta Journal Constitution told NPR, McKinney’s “practically accused the President of murder!” [xxii]

Fairly or unfairly, Palast singles out Clemetson for a few phone calls.

Hi, Lynette. My name is Greg Palast, and I wanted to follow up on a story of yours. It says, let’s see, after the opening – it’s about Cynthia McKinney – it’s dated Washington byline August 21. “McKinney’s [opponent] capitalized on the furor caused by Miss McKinney’s suggestion this year that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks but did nothing so his supporters could make money in a war.” Now, I have been trying my darndest to find this phrase . . . I can’t. . .

Lynette Clemetson, New York Times: Did you search the Atlanta Journal Constitution?

Yes, but I haven’t been able to find that statement.

I’ve heard that statement – it was all over the place.

I know it was all over the place, except no one can find it and that’s why I’m concerned. Now did you see the statement in the Atlanta Journal Constitution?

Yeah....

[Note: No such direct quote from McKinney can be found in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.]

And did you confirm this with McKinney?

Well, I worked with her office. The statement is from the floor of the House [of Representatives].... Right?

So did you check the statement from the Floor of the House?

I mean I wouldn’t have done the story. . . . Have you looked at House transcripts?

Yes. Did you check that?

Of course.

You did check it?  [Note: No such McKinney statement can be found in the transcripts or other records of the House of Representatives.]

I think you have to go back to the House transcripts.... I mean it was all over the place at the time.

Yes, this is one fact the Times reporter didn’t fake: The McKinney “quote” was, indeed, all over the place: in the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and needless to say, all the other metropolitan dailies – everywhere but in Congresswoman McKinney’s mouth. [xxiii]

He was attempting to fact check the statements attributed to Cynthia McKinney and found that journalists, male and female, liberal and conservative played telephone rather than verify the Congresswoman’s statements. Eversely validates Palast’s sentiments, writing, “The Washington Post headline screamed, ‘Democrat Implies Sept. 11 Administration Plot.’ White House spokesman Ari Fleischer didn't have to say the words "conspiracy theorist" --- he simply mentioned the "grassy knoll" theory involving the Kennedy assassination.”[xxiv]

2004 campaign-changes and similarities to 2002 campaign coverage

History seemed to have worked in McKinney’s favor when she decided to begin a campaign to regain her seat in 2004. The Nation magazine’s John Nichols reflectively writes,

After her defeat, she was written off by most political observers as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ that was too radical and too outspoken on hot-button issues to ever make a comeback. But a funny thing happened between 2002 and 2004. Many of the concerns that McKinney had been attacked for addressing two years ago fit comfortably in the mainstream of the political discourse this year.

According to Nichols, at least some of McKinney’s 2002 questions were worth asking in 2004. He sites Richard Clarke’s testimony before the 9-11 Commission about “how the president and his aides had neglected warnings that Osama bin Laden and his followers intended to attack the United States.” Nichols believed 2004 would be McKinney’s year because, “after all the revelations regarding no-bid contracts and war profiteering by Dick Cheney's former employees at Halliburton, McKinney was able to campaign as a truth teller who had been punished -- and then vindicated.”[xxv]

However, media distortions of her positions and record of legislative achievement remained subject to some of the same stereotypes and mischaracterizations prevalent in the 2002 campaign against Majette. The only way the press, which McKinney kept at arms length this go around, could validate McKinney’s win is to infer that she might have been “broken” like a wild horse and that she learned to be quieter. In other words, once she was beaten, reporters frequently wrote from the story angle that McKinney had to tone down her rhetoric on national security and the war in Iraq.

Reporters seemed to project this idea into the public consciousness. Eleanor Clift was one of those journalists and she became a McKinney apologist on an episode of Fox’s Hannity and Colmes.

HANNITY: So, can this soft-spoken critic of the president get back in the good graces of the people?
Joining us now, Fox News political analyst, and "Newsweek" contributing editor, Eleanor Clift.
Eleanor, is she an embarrassment for Democrats?
ELEANOR CLIFT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. I mean, she has essentially apologized for suggesting that President Bush personally knew that there was an impending attack.
However, the question that she posed, what did the president know and when did he know it, is essentially what the 9/11 commission has been looking into.
In addition, I think it's a very different political climate now than it was in March of 2002 when she said these words. [xxvi]

There was a reason journalists had to do a little fantasizing if they wanted to write about McKinney in 2004. The principal difference in this campaign was a decrease in press visibility and increase in grassroots organizing. She ran in 2004 without one television or radio advertisement. Her district tapped into a demographic that did not have a favorable opinion of the media, particularly when they thought the press distorted a woman of color’s words.

In 2004, the media recorded that voters found her national security positions credible and convincing. "She's been unfairly portrayed," said Janice Lowe of Decatur. "They were saying she was talking too much about issues she wasn't knowledgeable about. But she was very much knowledgeable, and the media didn't want to talk about that.”[xxvii]

During this campaign, McKinney didn’t make her schedule public, and turned down media requests. She focused on her base by personally meeting with them in neighborhoods and churches. Southern Methodist University journalism professor, and media strategist Rita Kirk says the key to McKinney’s success was direct voter contact.

"She has a huge network, “said Kirk, “sort of like the old Baptist phone tree, where everyone calls someone else who calls someone else to get a message out. People feel like they're only a few steps away from her. The result for her is that if she talked to the press, her message would only get muddied."[xxviii] McKinney’s campaign balanced this folksy appeal with campaign finance reports that McKinney’s donors included heavy hitters like Coretta Scott King.[xxix]

However, after the film Fahrenheit 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission, distrust of the media and the Bush administration set figures like McKinney up to be local folk heroes. "There is a great mistrust of the media in her district," said William Boone, a political scientist at Clark Atlanta University. "The media has misrepresented and ignored their communities unless someone's getting busted for drugs. So Cynthia McKinney's relationship with the press has always been adversarial, but so has the district's.”[xxx]

This strategy is mindful of the way the press misrepresented her statements and capabilities in 2002, but it is also a strategy that proved essential to Karl Rove’s victories—tapping into the grassroots and controlling the media’s access to the candidates.

Mae Gentry of the Atlanta Journal Constitution was the McKinney reporter of record for the 2004 campaign. She echoed some other female reporters like Clift and depicted the returning Congresswoman as more demure, even though the press had less access to her that time around. According to Gentry, “Cynthia McKinney stuck to the issues, controlled her tongue, and rallied an army of volunteers who fanned out throughout Georgia's 4th Congressional District to energize voters.”[xxxi]

This also infers that the issues she campaigned on in 2002 were not relevant to voters. Mae herself reported that McKinney’s issues were, “job creation, economic stability and diplomatic alternatives to war,” which were the same issues she ran on in her 2002 campaign.[xxxii]

While still keeping her position on national security issues in the forefront, McKinney does give some ground. In the rush week prior to the Election Day, while Republicans aired frightening wolf and Osama Bin Laden commercials for “security moms,” McKinney seemed to concede that her timing was not the best during the last campaign. She said that 2002

was a very special time in our country's history.... The country was in pain, and perhaps the country wasn't ready for the kind of questioning of the Bush administration that I was the first one to do.

Now, of course, with the two years of hindsight, we now understand that the entire country is ready for the questioning of what happened on Sept. 11 so we can make sure it never happens again.[xxxiii]

Epilogue

In mid-October 2005, the mainstream Washington Post, ran an extensive and some would argue fairly sympathetic feature, on African American civil servant, Bunny Greenhouse, “the top procurement official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” and whistleblower. Greenhouse exposed the five-year no-bid multi-billion dollar contracts made to Halliburton and its subsidiaries for work in Iraq well before the start of the March 2003 invasion.

In “The Web of Truth,” Post journalist Neely Tucker explains how Greenhouse exposed Halliburton’s $61 billions in fuel overcharges to superiors and FBI investigators. Greenhouse recalls and the Freedom of Information Act documents referred to in the article substantiate the hybrid of sexism and racism the civil servant suffered when she expressed serious misgivings about awarding long term contracts to Halliburton.

Vice President Cheney, former Halliburton Chief Executive, used an expletive when a senator confronted him with information about Greenhouse’s investigation last year. Greenhouse said in the article “abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.”[xxxiv]

PBS’s NOW and even Vanity Fair gave Greenhouse and her contentions considerable attention and sympathy.[xxxv] The government professional’s quest to exonerate herself in the phase of demotions and harassment has made her a cause célébré among those who connect the Iraq War to war profiteering on behalf of Halliburton shareholder, Vice President Dick Cheney.

On Friday, October 28, something occurred that seemed unthinkable just three years ago. The secretive White House administration’s legally questionable relationship to the media and those journalists that reported the lead up to the current Iraq War was exposed. More specifically, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted one of the principal manufacturers of the rationale for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, I. Scooter Libby.

Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, helped develop media talking points for the war. Now, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s indictments (on five counts including obstruction of justice), raise questions about Libby’s relationship with Judith Miller and the outing of a CIA agent and wife of a prominent critic of the administration’s rationale for the invasion.[xxxvi]

Judith Miller and other reporters became Libby and the White House’s pipeline to the public psyche. This public, rattled by the most devastating terrorist attack in the continental US, were at the mercy of the press that communicated the reasons the US government thought that the war in Afghanistan should be extended to Iraq and was an appropriate response to 9/11.

Fitzgerald’s 18-month investigation exposed the White House’s relationship to the press particularly as it relates to national security issues and those who question the Bush administration. The I. “Scooter” Libby and Judith Miller relationship, as well as Judith Miller’s relationship with the New York Times expose the difficulty of reporting objectively and truthfully about national security and intelligence matters in a time of war. After all, one cannot help but wonder how the 2004 Presidential election may have been different if Libby had initially been forthcoming and truthful in his testimony.

By October 2005, over four years since 9/11 and two and a half years after the invasion of Iraq, the media finally validates opposition voices that question the administration’s approach to national security, the “War on Terror,” and the political motivations for the Iraq War. Two women, one willingly the other not so willingly opened the door to a public critique of the administration’s performance on issues of national security.

What kind of treatment might a female African-American, elected official received just three years ago if she shared her doubts about the nation’s response to 9/11, the rationale for the Iraq war, and raised questions about war profiteering to the mass media? In 2002, Cynthia McKinney began to question the Bush Administration’s ability to respond to intelligence that might have enabled government agencies to hasten the tragic events of 9/11.

Moreover, she questioned the relationship between defense industry profits to be made and the rush to war in response to 9/11. For this, mainstream and even so-called liberal press characterized McKinney as mentally unstable, controversial and a conspiracy theorist. Yet Bunny Greenhouse’s cause and the indictment of “Scooter” Libby has given permission to the mainstream press to extrapolate that this White House, may have doctored evidence of weapons of mass destruction to validate a war in Iraq.

More importantly, the indictment has given permission to the press to ask the occupants of the White House and politicians more pointed questions than they did during McKinney’s 2002 election, particularly when those questions relate to issues of national security.[xxxvii]

Endnotes

[i] Wyatt, Kristen “Quiet Judge Wants To Unseat Outspoken Cynthia McKinney For Congress,” Associated Press, 17 October 2004.

[i] Quinlivan, Laure “Move Over, Boys” Washington Magazine, Inc, June 1995.
[iii] Stanford, Duane D. “Rematch For Congress In 4th District; Challenger Hopes Area Voters Have Grown More Conservative In The Past Two Years.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 4 November 2000, Saturday, Home Edition.
[iv] Transcript of Appearance of Rep. Cynthia Ann McKinney (D-Ga.) On KPFA’s Flashpoints  with Dennis Bernstein. 25 March 2002, Prepared By Kellia Ramares, KPFA, Pacifica News.
[v] Flashpoints Interview, 25 March 2002
[vi] Smith, Ben McKinney Sets Positive Tone For Campaign” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8 April 2004, Thursday Home Edition.
[vii]  Banks, Gabrielle McKinney Mouths OffAlterNet, April 15, 2002.
[viii] “Speaking With Authority: From Economic Security To National Security”, The Barbara Lee Family Foundation, 2002, P. 10
[ix]Moxley, R. Scott. ”Separate And Unequal” OC Weekly, September 27 - October 3, 2002
[x]Moxley, R. Scott.
[xi] Wyatt, Kristen, “Quiet Judge Wants To Unseat Outspoken Cynthia McKinney For Congress,” The Associated Press State & Local Wire, 13 July 2002, Saturday, Dunwoody, Ga.
[xii]Boortz Called Cynthia McKinney The Cutest Little Islamic Jihadist" Media Matters For America, Posted To The Web On Wednesday July 21, 2004 At 6:07 PM Est.,
[xiii] Editorial, The Washington Post, “The Segregationist Caucus” 21 December 2002 Saturday, Final Edition, Pg. A22
[xiv] Bradley, Carla. “The Career Experiences Of African American Women Faculty: Implications for Counselor Education Programs”, College Student Journal, September 2005.
[xv] Wyatt, July 13, 2002
[xvi] Online Newshour, PBS. Election 2002: Early Returns, 21august 2002
[xvii] Palast, Greg, “The Screwing Of Cynthia McKinney” Published On Wednesday, June 18, 2003 By Gregpalast.Com
[xviii] Wyatt, July 13, 2002
[xix] Palast, June 18, 2003
[xx]Eversley, Melanie. ,”What Will She Say Next? Rep. Cynthia McKinney Makes Outrageous Statements, Wins By Big Margins” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 21 April 2002 Sunday, Home Edition, Section: @Issue; Pg. 1f .
[xxi] Melanie Eversley, April 21, 2002
[xxii] Palast, June 18, 2003
[xxiii] Palast, June 18, 2003
[xxiv] Eversely, April 21, 2002
[xxv] Nichols, John. “The Rep from Fahrenheit 9/11.The Nation Magazine Online, Posted 07/22/2004 @ 4:46pm
[xxvi] Fox Hannity & Colmes (21:49), 2 June 2004, Wednesday, Transcript # 060205cb.253.

Will Controversial Congresswoman Regain Seat?” Featuring Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Eleanor Clift

[xxvii] Wyatt, Kristen.15 October 2004, Friday, “Sharp-Tongued McKinney Poised To Return To Congress” Associated Press Writer, Decatur, Ga.
[xxviii] Wyatt, October 15, 2004
[xxix]Gentry, Mae, “Election 2004: Congress: District 4: McKinney Poised To Regain Seat,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3 November 2004 Wednesday, Home Edition, Section: News, Pg. 10ex.
[xxx] Wyatt, October 15, 2004
[xxxi]Gentry, Mae and Smith, Ben. 21 July 2004. McKinney Flies Under Radar To Win.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
[xxxiii] “War On Terror Dominates McKinney Debate” Associated Press, Sunday, 24 October 2004.
[xxxiv] Tucker, Neely “A Web Of Truth, Whistle-Blower Or Troublemaker, Bunny Greenhouse Isn't Backing Down,” Washington Post, Wednesday, 19 October 2005; C01.
[xxxv] Shnayerson, Michael, Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair, April 2005, “Oh! What A Lucrative War”; No. 536; Pg. 138.

[xxxvi]Jehl, Douglas , “Charges Shed Little Light on Underlying Questions,” 29 October 2005, The New York Times.

[xxxvii] “At Least 10, 000 Articles Emerged From A Google Search On Libby And Fitzgerald In Relationship To The Plame Investigation,

posted 2 March 2006

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

 

update 14 February 2012 

 

 

 

 Home  Special Topics   Another Look at Israel   Obama 2008 Table

Related files: Cynthia McKinney Deserves Your Support   Letter to Sister Cynthia McKinney   Cynthia McKinney Confronts Media Malice  A War on Error   

Cynthia Mckinney Accepts Green Party Nomination‏  (video)  The Cost of a Chocolate City: Blacks and the Need