Sometimes getting shut out gives you a big in.
Yesterday afternoon, a throng of activists gathered at Fox News headquarters in Manhattan to protest Fox’s racist coverage of the Obamas. From comments like “baby mama” to “terrorist fist jab” to “lynching party,” Fox commentators have set a pattern of using racial slurs against the Obamas, in a thinly-veiled attempt to make them appear like outsiders in their own country. It’s offensive to Black Americans, and to all Americans.
The protest contingency was led by someone who has inspired and entertained me for years — hip-hop legend Nas. Ever since Fox’s Bill O’Reilly started attacking Nas on air, Nas has fought back, hard. Yesterday, he teamed up with ColorofChange.org and MoveOn.org to deliver 620,127 petitions to Fox, calling on the network to Stop the Racist Smears.
Video of the event:
I had the privilege of running the ground operations for the event. Despite many variables and deeply hostile Fox security, we pulled it off without a hitch. The major media coverage was fantastic (search Google News for “fox nas” for a taste).
The protest started at 2:00, but didn’t crescendo until 11:30 that night. Fox, in true Fox fashion, refused to accept the 620,127 petitions. Wouldn’t even let us step foot on Fox property. We organizers didn’t expect such a flat out refusal. But then another idea struck — if we couldn’t deliver the petitions to Fox, why not take them to where they could have even more impact … the Colbert Report.
Nas was already scheduled to appear on Colbert to promote his new album, which just hit #1 on the charts. Instead of talking beats and rhymes, Nas took the opportunity to turn up the heat in his well-known feud with “Poppa Bear” (Colbert’s affectionate name for Bill O’Reilly). And since Fox had rejected our 620,127 petitions, Nas brought them to the Colbert Studio, and actually made them part of the set.
Yep, Nas and Stephen Colbert conducted their interview sitting on the ColorofChange petitions. Could you dream up better placement for a protest prop?
Lesson: Fox shot itself in the face by not just quietly taking our petitions and hiding them in a dumpster. Instead, our message got amplified to every Colbert viewer in the country, and made Fox look like the race-baiting antagonists they are. A media and organizing coup!