I’m sure most of you remember the groundbreaking Alex Haley novel and ABC miniseries, "Roots: The Saga of an American Family." Early in the series, soon after the African progenitor, Kunta Kente, is enslaved in America, his master attempts to break his will and ties to his native land by demanding Kunta go by his new name, Toby. Kunta refuses, and what was his reward for deviating from the script? Kunta’s feet are amputated as punishment.
Comedian DL Hughley’s show was canceled recently. Oh, you never saw it? Well that’s no surprise since it was scheduled in an abysmal timeslot (Saturday nights at 10:00pm). It was also unpolished and basically awful. Based on that assessment alone, you’d think I would be glad such drivel is out of our homes for good. Ordinarily I would. That is until I found myself getting very suspicious at the timing of the cancellation.
The reason I am suspicious is Republican National Committee chair, Michael Steele, appeared as a guest on Hughley's now defunct show. During the interview, Hughley was able to cajole Steele into saying that Limbaugh’s show can be both “incendiary” and “ugly.” Steele also proclaimed on Hughley’s show that he and not Limbaugh was the de-facto leader of the Republican Party and that Limbaugh was “entertainment.” Almost immediately, Steele was tarred and feathered by the right-wing blogosphere and Steele found himself calling into Limbaugh’s program apologizing for his remarks. As far as I am concerned Steele might as well have been saying, “Yesssir, Massa Rush… I don’t know what done got over me.”
But wait, you mean Limbaugh’s show is not entertainment? If not, then what is it? It’s certainly not journalism and Limbaugh is not a politician either. His sensitivity in all of this is certainly diva like. Besides, the last time I checked, being a successful entertainer was nothing to feel bashful about. The pay is great and the perks outstanding.
But it gets better. Not only did Steele admit the error of his ways to Limbaugh personally, he also went on to demean himself further admitting to Politico, “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate…” Whoa, back up there Negro. It’s bad enough to kowtow to a powerful media voice and backpedal a bit. It’s a whole other thing indeed when you tell the world that you, a man with an advanced education, a man who served his state with distinction as Lieutenant Governor and was his state’s Republican party nominee for the US Senate, is somehow inarticulate. What the HELL was he thinking?
As I examine the situation even further it’s almost reminiscent of an imagined scene pre-emancipation. When it was just Steele and Hughley (along with Chuck D) he seemed comfortable and confident enough to thump his chest and proclaim himself the leader of his party. Imagine three brothas discussing conditions on the plantation when Michael tells the others he’s the one who actually runs things and not Master. But somehow, word gets back to Master what Michael has said and suddenly Michael is acting as if he can’t even spell his name, let alone pass a bar exam or help to run a state.
As for Hughley’s show, if it’s creators were trying to come up with a blacker, hipper version of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, they failed miserably or on the flip side, they were quite successful at creating an unwatchable, unfunny, unhip, and just plain unsophisticated news/entertainment program.
In spite of the show’s lackluster ratings and overall vacuity, I am troubled at the timing of CNN’s decision to pull the show. Coincidence? Perhaps. Yet it smells rotten. Hughley had the balls to put forth a relatively tough question and this is how he was rewarded. Was CNN suddenly feeling pressure? While speculation abounds, it is likely we will never really know. But I certainly don’t like the way it played out.
Steele’s apology is ironic in other ways too, because if you think about it Limbaugh has no qualms whatsoever insulting his audience by calling them “ditto heads.” And unfortunately, many in Limbaugh’s audience are foolish enough to accept it as somehow being complimentary. In some way, this gives credence to him possibly being the real leader of the GOP.
No, Michael Steele, probably isn’t the de-facto leader of the Republican party. In fact, thy name ain’t even Toby. No, Michael Steele, thy name is boy.
Well, I gotta scoot…