On Aug. 20, the Los Angeles Times published a column by Erika D. Smith with this headline: “Larry Elder is the Black face of white supremacy. You’ve been warned.”
Smith’s evidence that the talk radio host and California gubernatorial candidate was a black white supremacist was mostly scattershot but could best be summed up by this quote from Democratic strategist Kerman Maddox: “Larry Elder goes out of his way to be at odds with the leadership in the black community and at odds with the thinking in the black community.” When a black Republican is involved, this apparently will do.
One week later — apparently finding she’d touched the right nerve to get her some clicks — Smith wrote a sequel: “Larry Elder says he’s not a face of white supremacy. His fans make it hard to believe.” The evidence this time was buttressed by the fact that angry internet trolls sent Smith, who is black, racist messages.
That behavior, while vile, merely illustrates a sad point: If any political writer’s inbox could be entered into the court of public opinion as evidence, his or her opponents could be found guilty of virtually any accusation. Overrule its admittance and the original charge — that “Larry Elder is the Black face of white supremacy” — was still wanting for proof.
On Wednesday, while Elder was touring a homeless encampment in Venice, California, a white woman in a gorilla mask threw an egg at Elder and punched one of his staff.
As Elder was whisked to safety, a man confronted the aide, getting in his face and telling him, “Don’t f*** with me, boy,” before he also took a swing at the staff member. Another individual off camera hit the aide with what appeared to be an egg.
Elder was escorted into the back seat of an SUV; as he was, a man could be heard saying, “Get that sorry piece of s*** out of here … get that racist-a** motherf***er out of here.”
The Los Angeles Times’ muted headline regarding this encounter: “Larry Elder cuts short Venice homeless encampment tour after hostile confrontation.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
Breaking: A flying egg narrowly missed the back of recall candidate @larryelder‘s head after it was thrown by an activist wearing a gorilla mask in Venice. A scuffle broke out and the candidate was escorted into an SUV.
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) September 8, 2021
One of the two leading candidates in the Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom was physically attacked by, among others, a woman dressed in attire that can only be described as prima facie racist — unless, of course, she ran out of cloth facial coverings and was forced to wear part of her gorilla Halloween costume to comply with a mask mandate.
Instead, the same newspaper that ran two ugly columns about how Elder was a black white supremacist started its coverage of the incident off thusly: “Larry Elder’s scheduled tour of homeless encampments in Venice ended shortly after it began Wednesday morning, with the leading Republican in the gubernatorial recall race hastily exiting in an SUV after being angrily confronted by a group of homeless people and advocates.”
“Elder — who had arrived in his new ‘Recall Express’ campaign bus shortly after casting his ballot at a voting center across town — spent roughly 12 minutes in the neighborhood, with his departure hastened by what appeared to be an egg thrown in the candidate’s direction and a physical assault on his staff,” read writer Julia Wick’s piece.
After a quote from one of Elder’s staff about the projectile thrown at the candidate — “It kind of glanced his head,” the staffer said — the Times got around to the elephant (or, well, the other mammal) in the room.
“A woman in a gorilla mask riding a bicycle threw the small white object past Elder’s head, as seen in a video posted on Twitter by Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle,” the piece read. “The woman appeared to be white, Elder is Black, and ape characterizations have been used as a racist trope for centuries.”
You don’t say.
Elder was — in two separate columns written by a black writer over a one-week stretch and published by the Los Angeles Times — called a black white supremacist. In one of these columns, anonymous messages sent to the writer via email represented the bulk of the evidence.
Straight news is a different beast from opinion journalism, granted, but when the paper of record in California’s most populous city has set those standards and a white woman shows up in a gorilla mask to physically attack a black gubernatorial candidate — in the flesh, not behind the digital barricades of anonymity — shouldn’t that information have been conveyed before the fourth paragraph, before a quote noting that what she threw at Elder “kind of glanced his head?”
For that matter, shouldn’t the racial element have been in the headline, the same way the headline for Smith’s column stated, “Larry Elder is the Black face of white supremacy?”
Shouldn’t it have been called an assault, not a “hostile confrontation?”
Aren’t the people responsible a mob, not “a group of homeless people and advocates?”
If you reverse the political parties and Smith had been a conservative writing about a black Democrat for Fox News, you’d get sterner rebukes than these from podcaster Dave Rubin, who has campaigned for Elder:
Put any black Democrat in that picture and you have the cover of every newspaper in America tomorrow.
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) September 9, 2021
Here’s a psychotic lunatic in a gorilla mask throwing an egg at @larryelder then punching a security officer.
Perhaps Newsom’s surrogates and the mainstream media calling Larry a black white supremacist isn’t a good idea?
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) September 8, 2021
To be fair, Smith wasn’t the only one using the “black white supremacist” trope against Elder. According to LAist reporter Kyle Stokes, two speakers at a get-out-the-vote event on Monday employed virtually the same insult the Times columnist did.
First, state Sen. Sydney Kamlager said one recall challenger — not gonna mention any names or anything! — “thinks he might have an edge because of his color. But racism … comes in all shapes and sizes, and we’re not stupid.”
California State University, Los Angeles professor Melina Abdullah wasn’t content to let the crowd guess which black conservative recall challenger Kamlager was talking about. “She didn’t say his name, but I will: Larry Elder is a black face on white supremacy,” she said.
Newsom didn’t push back on this. “I really want to express to all of you that I have your back,” the governor said at the rally, according to Fox News. “This is an attack on our values, the things we hold dear as a state.”
Apparently, the white governor is willing to let his surrogates pump racist dog-whistles into the recall race against his black challenger. Thankfully, we have comedian D.L. Hughley to lower the temperature here.
“Larry Elder and Team in Nasty Confrontation, Eggs and Punches Thrown – TMZ I don’t condone violence! But…..no seriously violence!!” wrote Hughley, who has tweeted extensively about the perfidies of Elder.
Larry Elder and Team in Nasty Confrontation, Eggs and Punches Thrown – TMZ I don’t condone violence! But…..no seriously violence!! https://t.co/PrFTKOTTRI
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) September 8, 2021
Apparently, racist violence against black people is OK with a black comedian if that black person is a conservative gubernatorial candidate. Potential Los Angeles Times headline about Hughley’s tweet encouraging violence against the leading GOP recall candidate: “Larry Elder’s flirtation with white supremacy riles black celebrities.”
In a tweet, Elder made clear the kinds of abuse — both verbal and physical — to which he’s being subjected on the campaign trail by Newsom’s supporters.
“Today I kicked off the Recall Express bus tour,” he said. “Before we even left Los Angeles, my security detail was physically assaulted, shot with a pellet gun, and hit with projectiles. The intolerant left will not stop us. We will recall Gavin Newsom. We will save California.”
Today I kicked off the Recall Express bus tour. Before we even left Los Angeles, my security detail was physically assaulted, shot with a pellet gun, and hit with projectiles. The intolerant left will not stop us. We will recall Gavin Newsom. We will save California.
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) September 9, 2021
That tweet could set up Smith’s next column about Elder. Suggested headline: “Black white supremacist Larry Elder has white savior complex about California. You’ve been warned.”
Don’t expect the woman in the gorilla mask to be mentioned, though.
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