How can a guy that praises the CIA and the FBI claim to be following in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass?
“King supports Corey Booker, a virtual Black Republican in the Democratic War Party.”
Former New York Daily Newsjournalist and current Intercept columnist Shaun King announced his plan to “revive” Black abolitionist and freedom fighter Frederick Douglass’ The North Star newspaper. King’s projectintends to fight “incarceration, poverty, or inequity of any kind.” As of this writing, the project is seeking at least 1,000 paying members before content is released. King has not listed who exactly will be supporting the “grassroots” media project but has publicly stated that the new North Star will not be taking donations from investors. The question is: will Shaun King speak up for, and collaborate with, independent media outlets which are currently under attack by the monopoly-controlled media that the new North Star claims to oppose?
Shaun King is a relatively well-known media personality whose career benefitted from the Black Lives Matter movement’s emergence in 2014 and 2015. King has become a journalistic face of the nascent movement against police brutality even though he himself has no formal organizational relationships with activists on the ground. His recent work for The Intercepthas fit snugly into the Russia-gate choirthat regularly sings fictional songs about so-called Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential elections. In 2018, King wrote an article in defense of the U.S. intelligence agenciesleading the so-called investigation into Russian interference in the political affairs of the U.S. empire. The article pronounced his loyalty to U.S. intelligence and revealed that the author had no allegiance to the independent media outlets that are constantly being censored in the name of the U.S. crusade against Russian “bots” and “dupes.”
“King’s recent work for The Intercept has fit snugly into the Russia-gate choir.”
Shaun King is not to be trusted. When Corey Booker announced his presidential candidacy on the first day of Black History Month, King tweeted that he agreed “with 95 out of 100”of Booker’s political stances.Booker tweeted back his thanks for King’s gracious support. King didn’t mention that Booker is not only deep in the pockets of Big Pharma, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex through his Israeli connections, but also that the New Jersey Senator has proudly parroted the U.S.’ anti-Russia narrative ever since Trump was elected. This narrative has served the U.S. censorship and military state well, allowing intelligence agencies to collaborate with multinational social media firms like Facebook and Twitter to purge the media landscape of all independent voices, especially Black voices.
Given that King supports Corey Booker, a virtual Black Republican in the Democratic War Party, it is unlikely that he will be speaking up for independent media such as Black Agenda Reportor The American Herald Tribune. These outlets have been directly attacked by the architects of Russia-gate. The American Herald Tribune andBlack Agenda Report were listed in the shady PropOrNotwebsite as “dupes” of Russia that needed to be censored from the internet. Google, Facebook, Twitter and other major corporations used think-tanks like the Atlantic Council to change their algorithms and purge their traffic of websites. Black Agenda Report has seen its traffic reduced by algorithm changes and The American Herald Tribune was banned from Facebook. Other pro-Black, anti-war, and anti-capitalist outlets such as PressTV and MintPressNews, and Venezuelanalysis have received similar treatment.
“The U.S. has become exceptional only in its ability to incarcerate and murder Black Americans.”
The repression of independent media has significant consequences for the struggle for justice, peace, and social transformation in the U.S. and around the world. For one, it cements the hegemony of the U.S neo-conservative and liberal elite who have found a basis for unity in the projects of endless war, white supremacy, and austerity around the world. These projects are buttressed by the system of U.S. imperial domination and its precipitous decline. Domestically, the U.S. state is an oligarchy controlled by Wall Street and its armed protectors. The U.S. has thus become exceptional only in its ability to incarcerate and murder Black Americans at an early age and condemn most workers to a life of precarity. Internationally, the rise of China and Russia has struck fear into the eyes of the U.S. oligarchy and its parasitic allies. China and Russia’s rise on the global stage has culminated in a massive military response by the U.S. that has mired nations such as Venezuela and Syria in perpetual war even as the trillions spent to wage such wars threatens to crash the capitalist economy and raises the specter of nuclear conflict.
It is here where figures such as Shaun King become useful to the ruling class. King represents a strand of political leadership that flaunts Black progressive credentials for the benefit of individual careers.King claims to be walking in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass yet fails to criticize the 21stcentury slave catchers currently attacking independent media. Instead, Shaun King aligns with Russia-gate and the likes of Corey Booker. Tweeting to Corey Booker helps develop friends in high places. Defending Black Agenda Report, The American Herald Tribune, and other independent media does not.
“King represents a strand of political leadership that flaunts Black progressive credentials for the benefit of individual careers.”
Still, we cannot underestimate how important it is that King is held accountable just like any other self-identified “journalist” or “politician” that claims independence from Washington or the corporate media. When King brandishes his loyalties to Corey Booker, he is actively attacking independent journalism and the struggles of poor and oppressed peoples, especially Black Americans. Booker has built his political career from the ruination of public education in Black communities everywhere and is a major proponent of Israeli settler colonialism. Booker is a servant of the oligarchy. The New Jersey Senator is the antithesis of what Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Ella Baker, and Claudia Jones represent.
We must not be fooled by self-proclaimed progressives who make grand comparisons between themselves and freedom fighters such as Frederick Douglass. What matters are the positions and actions taken right now. Poor Black Americans and the rest of the working population in the United States are mired in debt and poverty. When Trump announced in his State of the Union address that the U.S. “will never be a socialist country,” he was stating directly that police violence, mass incarceration, and economic misery will forever be permanent fixtures of the country. This is unacceptable. We need progressive and left movements that not only build the world Trump and the Democrats don’t want to see, but also movements willing to defend and unite with independent journalists and media institutions doing the hard work to develop the space for such a movement to thrive. Shaun King hasn’t shown any indication that he is willing to use his platform for anything other than his individual career and the Corey Booker-like oligarchs who are willing to sustain them.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing, Release Date: April 2nd, 2019). He can be reached at [email protected].
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