Gone is the era of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, when news programs fought to gain the trust and respect of a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, the fastest-growing news programs and media platforms are fighting hard for increasingly narrow segments of the public and playing on old prejudices and deep-rooted fears, coloring the conversation in the blogosphere and the cable news chatter to distract from the true issues at stake. Using the same tactics once used to mobilize political parties and committed voters, they send their fans coded messages and demonize opposing groups, in the process securing valuable audience share and website traffic. Race-baiter is a term born out of this tumultuous climate, coined by the conservative media to describe a person who uses racial tensions to arouse the passion and ire of a particular demographic.
About the Author – Eric Deggans is TV and Media Critic for National Public Radio and formerly for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. He also contributes to CNN.com and the Huffington Post. Deggans regularly appears as a pundit/expert on MSNBC’s “Countdown”; CNN’s “Reliable Sources”; Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” morning show and “Hannity and Colmes”; PBS’s “The NewsHour”; CNN Headline News’ “Showbiz Tonight”; “The Tavis Smiley Show” on Black Entertainment Television; and the PBS shows “Livelyhood” and “The Calling.” His work has also appeared in a host of newspapers and magazines ranging from the conservative Newsmax magazine to the Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Detroit News and Miami Herald, VIBEmagazine, Hispanic magazine and Ebony magazine.