Traitors of Journalism: Joy Reid and the Minstrel Performers of MSNBC


Joy Reid accuses the author of a Politico article that was published on 11/15/2019 of placing too much emphasis on a Quinnipiac poll that was released on 11/26/2019.

Good fortune is common enough, even in the protracted misery of human life, but serendipity falls upon us only rarely, and, for some people, never at all. It is delightfully fitting that, in the United States, it usually begins with losing your job: a new opportunity is suddenly presented. Therefore, we must never be so crude as to mistake good fortune for serendipity, or vice-versa. We have the good fortune to be alive today, when we are afforded such a spectacular view of the decline of the American Empire. But it was an act of blessed serendipity that the producers and showrunners of MSNBC chose to mount an obscenely racist defense of Kamala Harris on the same day that I read the closing section of Soul of Ice, a collection of essays by Eldridge Cleaver.

Eldridge Cleaver’s name and literature have been concealed, if not buried, by the architects of our collective amnesia. A black man who was raised in Arkansas, but who grew up in California, he was arrested on a charge of possession of pot at the age of nineteen. While imprisoned, he placed a poster of a woman in his cell, and was shocked when one of the guards destroyed it—not because he disliked pornography, which abounded in the prison, but because the woman in the poster was white.

This incident, as well as the incessant psychic trauma that is the distinction of the thoughtful as well as the clueless, inspired Cleaver, upon his release, to become a serial rapist targeting white women. Unfortunately for Cleaver, the presiding judge did not approve of his approach to racial retribution, and he was delivered to prison once again. Upon his release, for which several female intellectuals campaigned, Cleaver became a prolific critic of the American culture, writing several essays on the subjects of race, sexuality, and group psychologically. If his writing never reached the scope of grandeur of the best of Dubois, still it was much more credible and poignant than anything that has been said on the subject of race relations since—including by the wealthy pundits appearing on cable news.

On Sunday, the 1st of December, a group of these pundits came together in the studios of MSNBC to ask each other why so many writers, critics, and commentators had declared the early death of Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign. Leading the discussion was Joy Reid, lovingly described by The New York Times as “a heroine of the Resistance”, and one of Obama’s former employees. She was troubled by the glut of “obituaries” for the Harris campaign, delivered in the aftermath of a Quinnipiac University poll in which Harris registered at a mere three percent. She lamented this rush to judgment based on one insignificant poll, and she blamed racist misogyny, an element as wretched as it is ubiquitous, for this electoral haste.

The first flaw in her argument is that none of these “obituaries” were written with the Quinnipiac poll in mind. At the beginning of her segment, she cites three articles, none of which refer to this poll at all, and one of which, published in Politico, was released a week before the poll was even conducted. Nobody who watches her program is aware of this—these are television viewers, not informed voters—and neither are her cohosts, one of whom concludes, on the basis of this absurdly fallacious construction: “This tells me Kamala is actually a contender.” She went on to argue that the potency of racist misogyny in this nation is so great that Harris’s successes must be minimized and undermined, lest the omnipresent bigots find themselves compelled to contend with the very real possibility of a black woman sitting in the Oval Office.


Has the corporate media ever undertaken such exhausting effort to resuscitate a candidate who has flailed so helplessly ahead of the Iowa caucus? The establishment doted on Harris long before she commenced her campaign, and its inability to overcome its loss should make us deeply suspicious. Harris has endured in the oligarchs’ delusional imagination because she conceals so much of this nation’s oppressive, fascistic policy behind a black, feminine mask. Anyone who wonders how a self-proclaimed progressive can embrace Harris with her predatory prosecutorial record, much of which victimized the black and the brown, should refer to an indispensable observation of Eldridge Cleaver’s:

“Through an elaborate system of sanctions, rewards, penalties, and persecutions—with, more often than not, members of the black bourgeoisie acting as hatchet men—any Negro who sought leadership over the black masses and refused to become a tool of the white power structure was either cast into prison, killed, hounded out of the country, or blasted into obscurity and isolation in his own land and among his own people.”

Fortunately, Joy Reid has an explanation for this. Speaking of the growing conviction that Harris is a sadistic opportunist who sold out her own race in the pursuit of power, Reid reminds us that “people think they know Kamala Harris’s entire criminal justice record based on one op-ed in The New York Times by somebody that most people have no idea who she is.” This inspired snickering in one of her cohosts, but the sound could not drown out Reid’s elitist slant. No one is denying that Lara Bazelon, the journalist who exposed Harris’s authoritarian tendencies, has yet to achieve the household fame that Reid currently enjoys, but Harris knew her name for six months before Tulsi Gabbard brought her research to a national audience. If Bazelon’s obscurity can be used to indict her, then isn’t Harris’s celebrity doubly discrediting?

While these pundits are conspicuously eager to overlook Harris’s judicial record (“How many innocent black men did not go to prison as a result of the fact that Kamala Harris was the Attorney General in the State of California?” one of them asks), they are equally willing to scold the people in this country who vote, or poll, without knowing the facts. On multiple occasions in this segment, they lament the ignorance of Americans who inadequately examine “the minutiae” of the political process, as if Harris keeps her virtue concealed—which, incidentally, is the wisest of all political strategies. So do we raise the inevitable question, “Why didn’t Harris follow it?”


A better question would be, “Why do Joy Reid and her cohosts believe that African Americans are too stupid and gullible to research Kamala Harris’s record?” This is hardly the first time that black people have been singled out as especially helpless victims of political propaganda: the neoliberal press never tires of reminding us that the nefarious Russian government targeted black voters when it polluted Facebook with fake news and memes. If the racist element within this portrait of black intellectual pliability was too subtle then, it is downright salient in Reid’s discussion: on multiple occasions, she scolds her black viewers for assuming “Kamala is a cop” without researching her record. Of course, researching her record would lead to even more obscene discoveries of her vice, and to no proof of her alleged, ineffable virtues.

The truth is that, throughout her life, Harris has made no calculation for virtues because she has been too busy following orders. In his exemplary essay, “Domestic Law and International Order”, Cleaver observed: “The police department and the armed forces are the two arms of the power structure, the muscles of control and enforcement. They have deadly weapons with which to inflict pain on the human body … Every country on earth has these agencies of force. The people everywhere fear this terror and force. To them it is like a snarling wild beast which can put an end to one’s dreams.” Eldridge was imprisoned six years before Harris was born, but had she possessed the power to sentence him to death, there can be no doubt that she would have been all too delighted to do so—not because she would have believed he posed a danger to society, but because, in bringing him to the gas chamber, she would have proven her fidelity to that same “society” that could reward her so handsomely in the future.

Unfortunately for Harris, there is little reason to believe that she will be rewarded with the powers of the presidency. She has already shuttered all of her campaign offices in New Hampshire, thereby denying me the opportunity to ask if she would prosecute the case against Julian Assange, and she is focusing all of her energies on Iowa, a state that she stands almost no chance of winning. If she sincerely wishes to understand why her campaign collapsed, then perhaps she should listen to one of her cohosts, who advised: “Don’t believe the hype. Look at the candidates, look where they stand on policy.”

Exceptional advice. I shall follow it, and I shall not vote for Harris under any circumstances.


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