In Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, Eric describes how some media outlets have weaponized messages of fear, division and social conflict. They exacerbate old prejudices and deep-rooted fears about women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims and other marginalized groups, seeking a loyal audience, advertising dollars and political power.
Gone is the era of three-channel television, when every outlet fought to serve a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, many pundits, bloggers, podcasters and cable news anchors aim instead for a passionate niche of fans. When that process illuminates a previously overlooked group, it is a wonderful exercise in equality. But when it segments viewers along race, class and gender lines, resisting America’s proud legacy of progress through diversity, then problems arise. Eric experienced this phenomenon firsthand when he was called a “race-baiter” by then-Fox News Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly.