The Quad-City Times, which serves Davenport, IA, and neighboring counties, recently ran a political cartoon depicting Republican presidential aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy as being routinely subjected to racist slurs because of his India heritage. Never mind that Ramaswamy, who was born and raised in Cincinnati, says he has never once been subjected to racist slurs on the campaign trail. The depiction was just another example of the media’s promotion of their false and preferred narratives.

“It’s sad that this is how the MSM views Republicans,” Ramaswamy said in a tweet. “I’ve met with grassroots across America & never once experienced the kind of bigotry that I regularly see from the Left. Iowa’s @actimes has the right to print this, but it’s still shameful.”

In a rare display of media contrition, executive editor Tom Martin wrote on the paper’s website that the “inexcusable” cartoon was intended to “criticize racist ideas and epithets” but instead featured a phrase that “is racist and insensitive to members of our Indian American community.”

“Racist and hateful ideas, words or images have no place in our publications, much less our society. It’s why we apologize today for letting such an image slip through our editorial process and into our opinion page Wednesday in the form of a political cartoon,” Martin wrote.

Martin’s apology, while perhaps sincere, made good business sense. Iowa is increasingly a Republican stronghold, and tarring the community the Quad-City Times covers as a bunch of racists is good cause for subscription cancellations.

The corporate owners of WOOD-TV, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids, don’t respect the viewership of that station’s core audience. It’s been reported the station fired news director  Stanton Tang and assistant news director Amy Fox because of a memo they sent out urging staffers to be judicious in their coverage of gay pride events.

“We know that West Michigan is a conservative area in many ways,” the internal memo said, according to the website The Desk, which is published by Matthew Keys, a California-based writer. “We need to recognize that some stories related to LGBTQ issues are going to be controversial and polarizing in our community.”

The memo advised reporters that not every Pride event was worthy of coverage.

“We need to do some work to discern the newsworthy-ness of the event. If we are covering Pride events, we need to consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue.”

Stanton Tang/LinkedIn

The media likes to refer to the “culture wars,” which suggests there are two warring sides. In fact, America is under siege of a cultural occupation, driven by the Biden Administration and its Democratic media allies. That two news directors were fired because they were sensitive to the conservative views of their audience and urged their staff to be cognizant of what’s legitimate news underscores what’s truly become of U.S. media.

Here’s what led to the firing of Tang and Fox and who was responsible for bringing them down, based on published reports.

When word of Tang’s memo leaked, longtime WOOD anchor Michele DeSelms took to Twitter and declared: “Our newsroom immediately stood up to the two managers who wrote a memo mandating that we cover ‘the other side’ of Pride events — essentially requiring us to give equal time to hate and discrimination.

“We said no, and will continue to fight for our LGBTQ colleagues, family members, friends and the community. This fight is not over. Please know we are standing up for what’s right, standing strong together and we will not let hate win.”

Somehow a memo urging traditional news judgment considerations and balanced reporting became a manifesto promoting hatred and discrimination. It should come as no surprise that DeSelms is on the advisory board of Indiana University’s media school.

Michele DeSelms/WOOD photo

DeSelms’ and other public newsroom opposition found its way to Texas-based Nexstar Media Group, the conglomerate that owns WOOD-TV. Nextstar Executive Vice President Gary Weitman promptly released a statement apologizing “for offending members of the LGBTQ community and WOOD-TV’s viewers,” and pledged to “take appropriate action as necessary to address this situation.”

Soon after, Tang was summoned to meet with WOOD-TV general manager Julie Brinks, who fired him. According to Keyes, while Tang was meeting with his boss, the station’s office manager cleaned out his office, and he was subsequently escorted out of the building.

Grand Rapids is a conservative region, so much so that a Black person who relocated to the city about two years ago told me the experience was like going back in time. The city’s politics have been heavily influenced by the DeVos family, who liberals tar as “extremist” far right radicals.

Nevertheless, Grand Rapids has had an outsize influence on national politics, science, culture, and entertainment. Former president Gerald Ford hailed from Grand Rapids, as did Agnes Nestor, an American labor leader, politician, and social reformer. Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers was born in Grand Rapids, and Al Green, the R&B singer, grew up in the city. Grand Rapids-born hip-hop artist SoFaygo, otherwise known as Andre Dontrel Burt Jr., was named to Most Necessary’s 2022 Artists to Watch list.

98.7 FGR

What also distinguishes Grand Rapids is that it and neighboring Wyoming (MI) in 2014 was ranked by Forbes as the fourth smartest metropolitan region in the country because its percentage of college-educated residents was among the highest in the U.S. This perhaps explains how Grand Rapids produced three NASA astronauts – Roger Chaffee, Christina Koch, and Jack Lousma.

Tang is Asian, and one might expect that WOOD’s news staff would celebrate the diversity of its newsroom management. Unfortunately for Tang, his politics suggest that like Ramaswamy, he doesn’t view himself as an aggrieved minority.

According to Keys, the California writer who put Michigan’s media journalists to shame, even prior to Tang’s memo about gay pride coverage the newsroom backstabbers were out to get him, purportedly because of his promotion of conservative ideas and causes. Among Tang’s transgressions was encouraging journalists to pursue stories that would please WOOD-TV’s conservative viewers.

Tang’s other sins included following conservative writers, including blogger Matt Walsh and Daily Wire host Ben Shapiro.  Earlier this year, after WOOD-TV covered a controversial Black History Month-themed lunch menu at a local private school, Tang privately complained to a producer that the reporter, Byron Tollefson, spent too much time on the matter because “they don’t watch our news, and they won’t get us ratings.”

The producer told Keyes the reference was understood to mean Black people.

Tang’s alleged comment might sound racist, but television news directors live and die by their stations’ ratings. Rest assured, if WOOD’s ratings plummeted and Tang defended his performance with, “but look at my controversial Black History Month coverage,” station manager Julie Brinks would still have fired him.

Tang’s LinkedIn profile says he is a certified rifle and archery instructor, as well as a former Cub Scout Chairman, credentials I doubt made him popular with his newsroom staff.

Even if one believes that Tang’s memo was inappropriate, I’m doubtful that most Grand Rapids residents would support his firing. There is a known cultural phenomenon known as West Michigan Nice, a reference to people in the region who are known for their excessive superficial warmth and desire to avoid needless confrontations and controversies.

WOOD isn’t the only Michigan television station whose newsroom staff sees conservative views and connections as examples of wrongdoing. Detroit’s NBC affiliate recently ran a blaring headline warning that game show host Pat Sajack was chairman “of a conservative Michigan college.”

ClickOnDetroit, June 15, 2022

The school is Hillsdale College, and while known for its conservatism, it ranks high in U.S. News and Princeton Reviews for the quality of its faculty and the education it delivers. Rest assured, if Sajak was chairman of Harvard, the Detroit NBC affiliate wouldn’t have posted a headline saying, “Pat Sajak serving as chairman of liberal Massachusetts college ranked No. 1 for antisemitism.”

At the end of the day, WOOD-TV anchor Michele DeSelms dissed the Grand Rapids community, implicitly tarring all residents as being intolerant hate mongers who support discrimination against gays. In my mind, DeSelms owes Grand Rapids residents an apology.

Grand Rapids residents have the power to make that happen by avoiding WOOD-TV’s newscasts, which possibly isn’t even a sacrifice. If coverage of Ford Motor Co.’s destruction of rural Marshall farmland is any indication, rival WWMT in Kalamazoo ran circles around its Grand Rapids competitor.

Maybe DeSelms and her colleagues were too busy scheming on how to knife their boss because of his conservative views.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.