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Seattle Times: Racism In Print

August 6, 2009

Last week I wrote about the Seattle Times’ pathetic excuse of a feature article on City Council Candidate Bobby Forch- scroll down the site if you haven’t read it yet, it’s an important piece whether you like Forch for city council or not.

A few days after their initial article, came a second article (Tuesday of this week) about how crowded the race is for that particular seat- Position 8.  The article offered details on each of the viable candidates.  For those of you who don’t think racism exists in journalism, take a look at what I- and many others- noticed.  It’s a classic, text book, teachable moment on rhetoric- both passive and affirmative.  It’s also one of the clearest examples of why I don’t read the times (so stop sending me the links to these craptastic articles! 😉  )

First up is candidate Forch (remember?  the Black guy).

Total words on Bobby Forch:  114.  Here are some critical excerpts, which just happen to be the first 2 paragraphs:

Forch said he was compelled to run because he felt passionately about creating jobs.

Calling himself a small-business advocate, Forch said part of his current job is helping minority-owned businesses land city contracts.

Can you spot the passive rhetoric?

Let’s go to the very next candidate in the article, David Miller (who happens to be White.  It’s not his fault and we don’t hold it against him, srsly)

Total words on Miller: 162


The first 2 paragraphs of the Miller coverage:

Miller comes to city politics with a background in biotech. But years ago, he said, he discovered he had a knack for deciphering the arcane language of land-use codes as he fought for various issues in his Maple Leaf neighborhood.

He advocates the urban-village-growth concept as an antidote to sprawl.

Can you spot the assertive rhetoric?

In words alone, Miller is presented as the better candidate above Forch.  Miller “comes” with qualifications, and Forch just thinks of himself as things he may not really be.  That’s the suggestion in the words chosen to characterize either candidate.  If the author felt he didn’t have more words to put to Forch, he should have cut his word usage for Miller.  That’s equity.  Overall, Forch received the smallest word-count.

Miller “has a nack” for deciphering the impossible, and Forch says tht part of his current job is….

C’mon people…

8 Comments leave one →
  1. heather permalink
    August 6, 2009 12:32 pm

    It’s also as though he is not willing to assert any assessment of Forch, he just recapitulates what Forch says about himself. Sort of like “the alleged suspect says…”

    “Forch SAID he was compelled to run because he FELT passionately…” Why the past tense? He has already buried the man. Dismissed.

    Thank you for bringing these not so subtle subtleties into sharp focus. The Times is a racist rag. A very careful-in the “What, me, racist?” Seattle style -rag.

  2. Sly permalink
    August 7, 2009 12:10 pm

    Yeah…. I’m thinking you probably read a little to deep into this one.. I don’t think the author had any intent on slighting Bobby.

    Word count? Passive rhetoric? I feel that at some point people go from pointing out racism to actively looking for racism, which is a bad path be be on. IMHO..

  3. Sable permalink
    August 7, 2009 12:20 pm

    And some people see racism where others do not. That’s not “actively” looking for it, which really implies “making it up”.

  4. jes me permalink
    August 7, 2009 7:52 pm

    Anyone who know words knows how they can be used. The above was a thinly veiled put down. And frankly, I don’t think it’s wrong to go looking for racism. If it’s there, it should be pointed out.

  5. west red permalink
    August 8, 2009 11:54 am

    Jordan Royer beat out Bobby by only four words in the word count. Also note that 16 of the words in the David Miller section are not about him at all, they are additional information about Waldo Woods. The Times endorsed Robert Rosencrantz who is not the highest in the word count and is cited as a two time loser. I agree that you have some good points overall although without more evidence that it was the fact the Bobby is black rather than that the reporter/editor did a bad job of being fair to account for the language. I agree that the Times should be vigilant and the editor seems most likely responsible.

    On the other hand, what I remember about Bobby is how proud he is to have brought more business to minority businesses via his role at SDOT. (I notice his web page has altered the word minority to disadvantaged.) When I heard him speak this was he main reason he gave for why I should support him (and he said minority). The ability of people in power to distribute jobs according to their own tastes doesn’t seem like a very great accomplishment to me! Since he is a minority, then giving business to minorities is (potentially) no different than for the non-minority person in that job to give business to a non-minority. It could also be that behind that statement from Bobby is more depth but I haven’t heard or seen evidence of that. I’d be much more interested if Bobby Forch were able to say that he made SDOT work better for the public. That would be an accomplishment independent of his ethnicity, heritage or beliefs.

  6. Julie permalink
    August 9, 2009 8:58 pm

    You cannot be serious.

    Are you serious? Do people like you actually exist?

    Do you know how insignificant 48 words is?

    You are actually looking for non-existent racism, and are one of the biggest obstacles is creating a race-blind society.

  7. Sable permalink
    August 10, 2009 2:42 pm


    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances…”

    These are the first fort FIVE words of first amendment of the Bill of Rights. Seem pretty significant to me.

    “To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the…”

    First 48 words of the Civil Rights act of 1964. Also significant, it would appear.

    FYI- there will NEVER be a race blind society. Unless of course you mean a group of people ignorant to the realities of race- I believe those are commonly referred to as ‘white people’.

  8. Stephanie Knight permalink
    August 10, 2009 4:12 pm

    Being ‘race blind’ is in itself a form of racism – a very powerful form. By not acknowledging race exists, you also don’t acknowledge the oppression. Thus, excusing yourself from fighting against it. The only people who have this option are white people. So, yes, these folks are commonly referred to as white people. And, may I add ignorant.

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