How Fox News covered Kanye West’s White House visit compared to rappers during the Obama years

Kanye West‘s appearance at the White House as a potential policy adviser was welcomed by conservatives and received extensive coverage on Fox News.

Prime-time anchor Tucker Carlson said that that the musical artist came across as a “bit scattered”,  but called his comments “amazing”, “poignant”, and “brave”.

“Listen carefully to what he said,” Mr Carlson said. “Sprinkled throughout his ramblings are flashes of truth, real insights into the way the world actually is rather than the way they tell us it is.

“Nobody else is allowed to talk this way. Go ahead and try it at work, you’ll get fired. West doesn’t care.

“And that makes him dangerous to a system that is based almost entirely on piety and lying. If you’re benefiting from a system like that, Kanye West must be crushed.”

However, for years Fox News hosts, contributors and anchors have used rap artists as a foil to make political points.

Here’s a brief list of some of the ways the network talked about hip-hop and rappers during the Barack Obama years.

The Common controversy

The controversy began in the world of conservative media, when words of a poem that the hip-hop artist Common had performed at a Def Poetry Slam were dredged up and posted online.

Common, long lionised by fans of so-called conscious rap for his sophisticated wordplay and R&B-inflected beats, had spoken critically of George W Bush and bemoaned police conduct, rapping that he had a “black strap to make the cops run,” and “Burn a Bush cause for peace he no push no button.”

Sites like the Daily Caller, which Carlson co-founded, ran the lyrics in full and heavily criticised the content.

“You’ll get extra credit for counting the death threats,” the writer wrote. “There is no extra credit for identifying spelling errors.”

Fox ran headlines online that called Common “vile,” and “cop-killer rapper.” Sarah Palin wrote about his poem on Twitter. And Sean Hannity devoted a large portion of his show to it.

“It baffles me that this is the person the White House chooses to set as an example for our kids,” Mr Hannity said. “This is not a guy we want our kids to listen to.”

But the White House was not swayed.

“The noise of outside outrage didn’t penetrate the relaxed, melodic atmosphere of the East Room, where Common was just another member of a varied cast of poets,” Washington Post journalist Dan Zak wrote of the event.

 

Jay Z

Jay Z is one of the most successful rappers of his generation, with a career spanning more than two decades and business interests across the worlds of fashion, music streaming, clubs and restaurants.

He is also an avowed supporter of Democrats such as Barack Obama, and in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.

After Mr Obama visited Jay-Z’s 40/40 club for a fundraiser in the months before the 2012 election, Mr Hannity honed in on the rapper’s rough-and-tumble upbringing.

“For only 40,000 bucks,” he said of the fundraiser, “you could have rubbed shoulders with a president and a rapper who has admitted to selling crack and shooting his own brother.”

Jay Z’s wife Beyonce has also been a target of anchors on the network for the social messages she has embedded in her work – like her homage to the Black Panthers during the half-time of the 2016 Super Bowl.

She has also been criticised by former anchor Bill O’Reilly, for being too “racy”.

In the Trump era, Fox has also continued to run negative coverage of Jay Z, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the new president.

Rick Ross

In 2016, a Fox News anchor questioned the rapper Rick Ross‘ presence at the White House after TMZ reported that his court-mandated ankle monitor went off at the event.

Mr Ross had been charged with misdemeanour kidnapping and assault after he and a bodyguard allegedly assaulted two service workers who threw a party at his house without permission in 2015.

The Fox News host said: “Is this the kind of role model that our president thinks our kids need?

“Ironically, Ross was invited there to support a program meant to keep young black people out of trouble.”

Mr Ross and bodyguard Nadrian Lateef James were later sentenced to five years of probation after pleading no contest to the charges.

 

Kendrick Lamar 

The Los Angeles-reared rapper, who, like Common, is known for the sophistication of his lyrics and beats, fell into the network’s sights after a politically charged appearance at the BET Awards in 2015

Kendrick Lamar performed his song “Alright” from the top of a police car on the stage that was marred with graffiti.

Fox ran a clip of the performance afterwards, and host Eric Bolling noted that the song lyrics were critical of the police.

“Uh, I don’t like it,” Fox personality Kimberly Guilfoyle said.

“Not helpful at all,” Geraldo Rivera added. “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years. This is exactly the wrong message.”

Mr Lamar weaved soundbites from the Fox News hosts into his song “DNA” from his album, “DAMN”. 

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Kanye West

Before he was accepted by Trump supporters, Mr West was criticised by the conservative network for many of his high-profile stunts,  including going off script to skewer George W Bush during a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina and cutting off Taylor Swift at the VMAs.

Jill Dobson, then a Fox News correspondent, grouped Kanye West with other “gangsta” rappers like Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, calling him sarcastically “the ultimate gentleman, as Taylor Swift knows”.

“I believe it’s Kenyay,” host Greg Gutfeld added, making an incomprehensible joke about Kanye’s name.

Washington Post

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