How Many Media Manias Over White Racism Have Turned Out to be Fiascos?


In 1987 Tom Wolfe published The Bonfire of the Vanities about the “hunt for the Great White Defendant,” but it’s not clear how many people ever got the joke. How many times since then has the national media gotten worked up over some white racist outrage, but when all the facts came out, it turned out to be a fiasco?

The Post-Bonfire Era of media fiascos over white racism began a month later with the Tawana Brawley hoax promoted by Al Sharpton. Many people today believe that Bonfire is based on that story but Wolfe didn’t own a time machine. He just could just follow out the logic of modern American life better than anybody else did.

In this century alone, I can quickly come up with the following list of fiascos:

Looking at this list, what stands out is how idiotic most of them are. Veteran investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein wonders if the Dominique Strauss-Kahn brouhaha wasn’t engineered by Sarkozy’s intelligence service to cripple his archrival, which would at least be a classy conspiracy. But most of these are just moronic … and yet the national media fell for them.

The lesson that has never been learned is that there’s a huge hunger for tales of Evil White Racists, so of course various people, mostly stupid, concoct them and the press tends to fall for them.