An article on CNN.com this week served to sandbag a conservative author, painting him incorrectly as a racist.
The article, a 3700-plus word screed on the racial implications of the election of Donald Trump as president, is titled, “How Trump became ‘the white affirmative action president’”. The article is full of quotes from “activist professors”, and includes a lot of editorializing beginning with, “Some say …”, or ending with, “…, critics say,”. It amounts to little more than a megaphone for anyone who wants to advance the theory that Donald Trump and his supporters are white supremacists, with far more opinion than fact.
It is in this context that best selling author Matt Margolis was asked to provide quotes, although that wasn’t made clear at the time of the request. Margolis received a request for comment for this article all the way back in September, 2017. Prudently, Margolis provided answers to the questions via email so there would be a record of the exchange, in case his statements were taken out of context.
Margolis has a new book coming out called, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama, which not only details dozens of Obama’s scandals, but also how the media’s bias caused them not to properly cover the stories. Now it appears Margolis may be the victim of media bias in his own right.
It remains unclear why it took four months for the CNN authors to finally hit the Publish button on the article, but the delay seems to have caused them to forget the original context of the quotes. Of course, they first two-thirds of the article to advancing the premise of Trump being unqualified and his supporters holding double standards. This allows their main protagonists, the activist professors, plenty of room to stretch out and expand on their theories.
In an effort to appear to present the other side, they also asked for quotes from a conservative author, but conveniently ran out of room. They appear to have cherry picked a few quotes without giving context. Presenting the quotes in this way gives them a tinge of possible racism.
The quotes from Margolis appear about 75% of the way in to the article:
“Was Barack Obama a black racial token — someone who was put in the Oval Office despite his inexperience?” asks Matt Margolis, author of “The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama.”
“Why didn’t the media ask whether Americans ‘lowered their standards’ just to put Obama in office?”
The constant criticism of Trump only emboldens his supporters and ensures his re-election, Margolis says.“Let’s stop trying to make everything about race when it’s not,” he says. “After all, Trump did better with African-Americans and Hispanics than Romney did in 2012.”
Nothing terribly bigoted here, but Margolis says that others have pointed out to him that some could take these quotes as racist.
JB: What would you say to critics who say President Trump is a white “racial token” – someone who was put in the Oval Office by white racial grievances even though he doesn’t meet the traditional standards required of all previous presidents?
MM: What Trump’s critics don’t seem to understand is that the way they see Trump is very similar to how Trump’s supporters saw Obama. Obama was easily the least qualified candidate of the entire Democratic slate in 2008. So, was Barack Obama a black “racial token” — someone who was put in the Oval Office despite his inexperience? Why didn’t the media ask whether Americans “lowered their standards” (to echo your words) just to put Obama in office in 2008?
I had more faith in Trump’s business experience preparing him for the presidency than I did in Obama’s experience as a community organizer in preparing him for the presidency. The middle class suffered significantly because of Obama’s policies, and people were tired of America’s interests not being the top priority. That’s why Trump was elected. Let’s stop trying to make everything about race when it’s not. After all, Trump did better with African-Americans and Hispanics than Romney did in 2012. [emphasis added by Margolis.]
When the full quote is included, it becomes clear that Margolis gave solid reasons to back up his opinion that Obama was unqualified when he was elected president. The partial quote in the CNN article leaves it ambiguous, allowing some readers to misinterpret it to mean that Obama was unqualified because he was a “token”.
Margolis has faced anti-conservative bias before, telling Media Equalizer that Amazon stopped responding to his requests to remove bogus 1-star reviews for his book, at the same time Hillary Clinton had her 1-star reviews automatically deleted.
The CNN authors can’t claim a lack of space, as they did not write this article for a newspaper with physical limitations requiring editorial discretion. This long piece – longer even than a typical magazine article – appeared on the CNN website. No editor would limit quotes to conserve electrons in cyberspace.
Something else must have motivated this editorial decision.
Margolis’ new book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama, comes out in April. You can preorder the book at this link.