Sunday, September 04, 2005

Black fury at Bush over rescue delay

In an extraordinary outburst during a live television fundraising concert broadcast on America's NBC network, the rapper Kanye West said: 'Bush doesn't care about black people. It's been five days [waiting for help] because most of the people are black. America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. We already realised a lot of the people that could help are at war right now.'
Naturally, his statements critical of Bush was censored by the network.
The Show Didn't Benefit by Censors - Los Angeles Times: AS we enter the celebrity telethon phase of the Katrina tragedy, NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" stands as a blueprint for its own kind of institutional failure.

By censoring Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West's remarks critical of President Bush during its West Coast feed of the program Friday night, the network violated the most moving and essential moment in an otherwise sterile, self-serving corporate broadcast.

"It would be most unfortunate," the network said in a statement defending its action, "if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

Excuse me, but whose tragedy is this: NBC's or America's?

NBC may have been nervous about West's comments, including the notion that America and its president are unresponsive to the needs of the poor. But you can be sure those remarks would have been cheered more than anything else in the program by the black parents and children still trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome if they had been able to hear them.

The line NBC stopped us from hearing on the West Coast: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

The puzzling thing is why NBC axed that, but allowed another provocation, potentially more disturbing, to stay in: "We already realized a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way, and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

West was apparently referring to the National Guard troops who were sent to New Orleans to help the flood victims and stop the looting.

The show was aired live on the East Coast, where West's full comments were heard.

There was a several-second tape delay, but the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word and didn't realize [West] had gone off script," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks told Associated Press.

Whether we agree or disagree with West's impassioned riff on media and government racism, the network's relentless self-promotion was by far the more offensive part of the broadcast.