Conservative Media and the White Victimization Narrative

Yesterday, Adam mentioned a yet-to-be-released study featured on the Wall Street Journal web site, which found that on average white respondents to a survey said that whites face more racial discrimination than blacks today. Although the sample sizes on this particular survey are too small for this kind of an analysis, this is something someone should explore, particularly by looking at the impact of ideology, party, and media use.

I say this because it is almost impossible to overstate the degree to which conservative media today, particularly Fox News and talk radio, are brimming with expressions of white racial grievance and white identity politics. When a survey asks respondents to make broad judgments about things that are outside their experience, where do their answers come from? A white respondent, when coming up with an answer for how much discrimination people (both black and white) face, can't just look to their own experience or those of people they know. So the impression they have is shaped in large part by what they see and hear in the media. And if you're someone who gets your news from conservative media, you're constantly hearing things like this, from Rush Limbaugh:

Hey, look, folks, the white kid on that bus in Belleville, Illinois, he deserved to be beat up. You don't know about this story? Oh, there's video of this. The school bus filled with mostly black students beat up a white student a couple of times with all the black students cheering. Of course the white student on the bus deserved the beating. He was born a racist. That's what Newsweek magazine told us in its most recent cover. It's Obama's America, is it not? Obama's America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, "Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on," and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he's white.

In the white victimization narrative Limbaugh and others repeat so often, not only are whites constantly being oppressed, they're also constantly being falsely accused of racism; indeed, the false racism accusation is the primary means by which blacks and their elitist white liberal allies keep regular white people down. Here's a more recent Limbaugh explanation, from last month:

You go out, you find a clean, articulate black guy, and you know that the Republicans are not gonna dare be critical, first black presidential candidate. They're gonna shut up. They're gonna put duct cape on their mouths. McCain saw to it, and the rest is easy. And then any criticism whatsoever you simply throw the racism charge and you shut 'em up even further.

Barack Obama's entire presidency, you see, is about enabling white people to be unfairly charged with racism. As I said, this stuff just pervades conservative media. So what would be surprising is if its adherents didn't think that whites are the oppressed ones.