Thompson falsely declared CBC unity in Fox TV schism

In his letter to The Hill on May 17, “No CBC member has urged institute to forgo Fox debate,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) proclaims that there is a “clear consensus” within the Congressional Black Caucus that the CBC Political Education and Leadership Institute should proceed with its plans to co-host presidential debates with Fox. This claim simply doesn’t match up with reality and it’s hard to imagine how Thompson could believe otherwise.

At least 10 CBC members have stated their opposition to the Fox debate deal, either in The Hill or in conversations with our organization. Most, despite our urging, do not want to comment publicly, saying that they prefer to express their concerns in private.

Thompson’s letter appears to be an attempt to undermine the voices of other CBC members. By belittling dissenting opinions as “misperceptions” and “misleading statements,” Thompson communicates to The Hill readers and CBC members that he has the power to speak on behalf of the entire caucus, without challenge, regardless of what has already been said.

It’s unsurprising that some members are reticent to express their disagreement with Thompson and Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), the two members most eager for a Fox partnership. Thompson dug his heels in long ago, and Kilpatrick’s vehement support for the debate is hard to separate from the fact that it would be held in her home district (Detroit), where her son is mayor. It’s clear that challenging the Fox partnership means challenging two powerful leaders in the CBC. With last week’s letter, Thompson made it clearer. …

Thompson describes resistance as coming from “liberal activist groups” concerned primarily about Fox’s “conservative bias.” What he doesn’t mention is that across the country, black community newspapers, columnists, radio hosts and bloggers have expressed outrage that the CBC appears to be — as one CBC member put it — “getting in bed with a racist network.” …

Thousands of politically active Americans, followed by the three leading Democratic presidential candidates, the DNC and almost a quarter of the Congressional Black Caucus have recognized that Fox is not a news channel but a propaganda outlet. When will the CBC’s leadership join this consensus?

~From James Rucker, executive director,, San Francisco

‘River of tears’ item was shameless sexism

I read with dismay your item in the May 23 issue titled “Judiciary Committee prepares for river of tears” (Capital Living section). This and other stories leading up to Monica Goodling’s testimony on her “history with crying” have been the most shameless form of sexism I have seen in the Washington press corps in a long time.

Of course, Ms. Goodling is emotional about being the center of a political firestorm. I cannot imagine anyone in Washington, D.C. who has been in such a situation (and there are many) has not been emotional, even cried. However, because Ms. Goodling is a young, attractive, successful woman, The Hill and others have decided to make sport of the fact she cried in what she thought was a private moment with a colleague. I doubt if she were a man, there would be this type of coverage.

Although I do not know her or the circumstances surrounding how she conducted her job, I do know that most people who work in politics and government really are here to serve the better good. The media always seems to assume the opposite. I challenge newspapers and reporters to remember that even political pariahs and scapegoats are human.

~ From Jennifer Wickre, Washington