I am but a simple woman, with a simple life. I try to eat three square meals a day and exercise in the evenings. After long stretches of blogging, I follow the advice given to me by my eye doctor and stare into the middle distance to protect my vision. I know nothing of making television, and nothing of the inner lives—the soaring heights and terrible disappointments—of those who make television. And yet, I believe I am correct in thinking that CNN can fix its problem with racist guests by not booking racist guests.
This occurred to me earlier today after watching a CNN anchor, Kate Bolduan, looking quite exasperated by a racist guest. That guest, Corey Stewart, a Republican man from Minnesota who now runs for various political offices in Virginia with a message of nativism and dog whistles about “Southern heritage,” simply would not answer Bolduan’s questions. Instead, he monologued about the “violence of the left” and said CNN was bad.
I can already hear you asking: How could Bolduan and her producers have known that this would happen? How could they have known that Stewart would deflect questions about white supremacy and instead use his platform to talk about “the violent left” or the general badness the media? They have no crystal ball. (That was MSNBC. Thank you.)
In February, while running in Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial primary, Stewart appeared at an event alongside Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who organized the Unite the Right rally at which a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others.
After defending Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and calling for the ouster of an African-American official who had posted offensive tweets about women and white people, Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart sat and listened Thursday as his newfound allies explained their belief that America should welcome immigrants from Western countries but keep out people from the Middle East.
Stewart’s host for the event in downtown Charlottesville was Unity & Security for America, a newly formed right-wing group that describes its mission as “defending Western Civilization including its history, culture and peoples while utterly dismantling Cultural Marxism.”
Next to that credo on the group’s website is an image of a frog and the phrase “Kek is with us,” a reference to a frog-headed Egyptian deity of chaos and darkness that’s become a satirical godhead for devotees of the alt-right, the loosely defined far-right movement linked to white nationalism and the idea that white identity is under attack by liberals and multiculturalism.
Perhaps that is one way to know. And because Bolduan, later in the segment, references this very appearance, it is clear that they did know.
Some other indications that Stewart would not be a good faith interview in a segment about white supremacy and Confederate monuments may also include:
Bolduan looked so agitated sharing the screen with a man who would not answer any of her questions about racism and instead used the platfrom given to him by CNN to draw an equivalence between people protesting violent white supremacy and violent white supremacists. And really, who can blame her! If only the producers at her network had had the good sense not to invite him on the show, based on all available evidence that it would go exactly this way, all of this could have avoided. My hope is that they read this blog and strive for better next time. As for me, I must go stare into the middle distance.