Huffington Post: Separate but Equal News Segregation
We know that according to the mainstream media, every time conservatives talk about race, they're racist, but every time liberals talk about race, they're being progressive. Which is sure a relief to know, because liberals talk about race a whole lot!
Not only does the Huffington Post have race, gender, and sexual orientation deeply ingrained in many of its articles, but it actually has separate sections for gays, women, blacks, and Hispanics.
It's as if there's one kind of news for white people – world, politics, business, entertainment – and another, separate kind of news, just for black people. And gays. And women, and so on. The Huffington Post, in its wisdom, has determined that black people just aren't interested in the news that the rest of us are. Black people want to read only news about black people. Gay people want to read only news about gay people, and women want to read only about women.
However, this specialization of news doesn't apply to all kinds of people. Chinese-American people have no special news source for them on the Huffington Post. Neither do Indian-Americans, Korean-Americans, Filipino-Americans, or a whole host of others. All of them have no choice but to read the generic news presumably meant for white people. Is that really fair?
In the interest of finding out more, I actually had the audacity to click on these special sections. Fortunately bro,wser technology has not evolved to the point of being able to determine that I am not black, gay, or female, and I was not redirected to one of the "white" sections, like Politics or Business.
The majority of articles in the black news section of the Huffington Post were about black people who tried to attack white policemen and/or security guards. They even had a whole section on Trayvon Martin. He's been dead for some time. Is he expected to make a comeback any time soon?
Most of the articles were about justice activists who, according to HuffPo, righteously demonstrated their commitment to peace by blocking public roads and bridges, assaulting policemen, looting stores, and burning businesses. There were also a number of articles on how racist America is, with articles such as "This is Why I Am Afraid of the Police," "Cop Fired For Cutting Off Detained Woman's Weave Gets His Job Back," and especially "Target Under Fire for Using White Model in 'Annie' Clothing Ads." From these articles, it is very clear that that the Huffington Post believes that blacks are most interested in reading about victimization at the hands of the police and/or white people in general. If America were not so racist, I do not know what else the Huffington Post would have to report to black readers.
I next clicked on the Gay Voices section, and was relieved to see an entire Baskin-Robbins selection of sexuality to choose from – transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and so on. If you can imagine sex with any kind of person or object, rest assured that there is a news department catering to your specific needs on the Huffington Post.
I'll let the titles of the articles from the Transgendered subsection speak for themselves: "WATCH: Meet The Incredible Transgender Dad Who Breastfeeds His Babies," "The Beauty of Being GenderQueer," "Why Are Some Trans Women Being Arrested As Sex Workers Simply For Walking Down The Street?," and "COMING SOON: America's First Transgender Girl Band!"
The lesbian subsection seems to be more how-to articles than news stories, with most of the articles focusing on ways that ladies can better kiss and hug each other. Oddly enough, there is no section dedicated to "gay men," but the general "gay voices" section is filled mostly with articles for gay men: flirty pictures of Anderson Cooper, an article about the first person to come out as gay on Nigerian TV (groundbreaking!), and the burning need for high-risk gay men to be able to contribute to our blood supply.
In other words, the Gay Voices section is mostly about people talking about being gay, because, according to HuffPo, that's the kind of news that gay people want to read about. If you're heterosexual, you must be interested in politics, world events, sports, and weather. If you're gay, you want to read about...people being gay. And that's real news! According to the Huffington Post.
Before I discuss the Women and Latino sections, I have to note that Women and Latino Voices cannot be found in the Huff Po main menu. You have to click on Black Voices in order to even see the menu options for Women or Latino Voices. Women and Latino Voices, obviously, are a subset of Black Voices and are not nearly as important, according to the Huffington Post. (And there is no section at all for Arab-Americans! Islamophobia at the HuffPo? Could be!)
The Latino section has a mix of articles. The number-one topic seems to be about illegal aliens, though you would be hard-pressed to find the words "illegal" or "aliens" in any of the articles; they are young, they are dreaming, they are undocumented, etc. But it also has several admiring articles about Che Guevara (for those of you too young to remember, he was the Latin American Chairman Mao – he didn't kill as many innocent people as Mao, but it wasn't from lack of trying). There were a number of articles about Ricky Martin: Ricky Martin in a speedo on the beach, Ricky Martin with his boyfriend, Ricky Martin explaining to his kids how they were created when he artificially inseminated a mother they never met, and so on. There were also articles (more than one) about the current status of Jennifer Lopez's breasts, with accompanying photos. So, according to HuffPo, the most important news for Latinos is illegal immigration and Hispanic celebrities.
The Women section had articles by women, about women, for women, such as "What Women Said on Twitter this week." Because women are interested in what women are saying – any woman, it doesn't matter which one, as long as she has the same anatomy as the reader. There are a lot of articles about sex, such as "How Not To Make Love to A Fat Girl," "When Men Try to Draw Vaginas," "Couples Act Out Awkward Sex Positions You've Never Heard Of," and "13 Sex Toys That Keep on Giving." There are also a lot of articles about women's rights, such as "Women Fight For Right To Bare Nipples In New Movie Trailer," "This Artist Is Wearing Lingerie In Public To Reclaim Women's Sexuality," "Women With Ph.Ds Review Amazon's 'Sexy Ph.D' Costume," although most of these rights seem to be about the right to be topless or nude in public.
So while men are interested in world news, politics, and weather, women, according to HuffPo, are interested primarily in learning about sex and fighting for the right to show their breasts in public. There were no articles about the national economy or world events in the women's section that I could find.
With all this focus on race and gender, I wonder what would happen if a conservative news site tried the same tactic, focusing on specific groups like the Huffington Post does. Do you think something like this theoretical example below would be received very well by the mainstream media?
Of course not. They'd call it racist. But when a leftist news outlet like HuffPo does the same thing, they call it progressive.
I'm not advocating for the tongue-in-cheek example above. We don't need a conservative version of what HuffPo is doing, for two reasons. First, it's exclusionary. If you're not in one of the selected groups, you feel like a second-class citizen – like white or Asian men who read the Huffington Post. Why no special topics for them?
Second of all, it's extremely patronizing and degrading to have news geared to specific classes of people. If I were black, I think I'd be very offended that HuffPo thinks my number-one interest is reading about thugs who attack the police or who burn and loot neighborhoods in the name of "justice." If I were a woman, I'd be offended that HuffPo thinks I have sex on the brain, to the exclusion of what's really happening in the world.
Real news sites don't presume to know what people want to read based on the color of their skin or whom or what they make love to, and they don't presume that people want to read only about people in their same "group." That's the difference between the Huffington Post and real news outlets.
Pedro Gonzales is the editor of NewsMachete.com, the conservative news site.