NewsBusters Wants You to Know That Karen Finney Is ‘Half-Black’

National Journal
Patrick Reis
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Patrick Reis
Aug. 23, 2013, 8:08 a.m.

News­Busters, the right-lean­ing me­dia watch­dog, iden­ti­fied MS­N­BC host Kar­en Fin­ney as “half-black” in its cri­ti­cism of her re­port­ing, draw­ing the host’s ire and tak­ing the pub­lic­a­tion in­to the per­il­ous ter­rit­ory of ra­cial polit­ics.

In a Thursday even­ing post ac­cus­ing Fin­ney of bi­as in her re­port­ing on Re­pub­lic­ans’ le­gis­lat­ive agenda in North Car­o­lina, News­Busters noted Fin­ney’s former po­s­i­tion as a Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee press sec­ret­ary, say­ing that a seg­ment on her Sunday show be­trayed a lib­er­al bi­as against con­ser­vat­ive policies.

“Former DNC press sec­ret­ary Kar­en Fin­ney con­tin­ues to use her MS­N­BC show to brazenly fly her par­tis­an flag,” On Sunday’s Dis­rupt with Kar­en Fin­ney, the half-black host slammed North Car­o­lina as a state that show­cases the Re­pub­lic­an “agenda on ster­oids.”

Fin­ney tweeted at News­Busters Fri­day, ques­tion­ing why it had chosen to identi­fy her race in the post.

What does my be­ing half-black have to do with Brem­mer’s “ana­lys­is” @news­busters ? ht­tp://

— Kar­en Fin­ney (@fin­neyk) Au­gust 23, 2013

Paul Brem­mer, a Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter in­tern and au­thor of the post, de­clined to com­ment to Na­tion­al Journ­al on why he iden­ti­fied Fin­ney’s race, say­ing in­terns wer­en’t au­thor­ized to speak to the me­dia. He said he had been an in­tern at MRC since Janu­ary.

Brem­mer re­ferred ques­tions to Tim Gra­ham, MRC’s Dir­ect­or of Me­dia Ana­lys­is.

“I’m com­pletely puzzled as to how de­scrib­ing a host as “half-black” on a ra­cial sub­ject (voter ID) is in any way ex­cep­tion­al, not to men­tion in­ap­pro­pri­ate,” Gra­ham said via email Monday.

The cur­rent AP Style Guide on “race” says:

Iden­ti­fic­a­tion by race is per­tin­ent:

““In bio­graph­ic­al and an­nounce­ment stor­ies that in­volve sig­ni­fic­ant, ground­break­ing or his­tor­ic events, such as be­ing elec­ted U.S. pres­id­ent, be­ing named to the U.S. Su­preme Court or oth­er not­able oc­cur­rences. Barack Obama is the first black U.S. pres­id­ent. So­nia So­to­may­or is the first His­pan­ic justice of the U.S. Su­preme Court. Jeremy Lin is the first Amer­ic­an-born NBA play­er of Chinese or Taiwanese des­cent.

““For sus­pects sought by the po­lice or miss­ing per­son cases us­ing po­lice or oth­er cred­ible, de­tailed de­scrip­tions. Such de­scrip­tions ap­ply for all races. The ra­cial ref­er­ence should be re­moved when the in­di­vidu­al is ap­pre­hen­ded or found.

““When re­port­ing a demon­stra­tion or dis­turb­ance in­volving race or such is­sues as civil rights or slavery.

In oth­er situ­ations with ra­cial over­tones, use news judg­ment.

Do not use ra­cially derog­at­ory terms un­less they are part of a quo­ta­tion that is es­sen­tial to the story.

This post was up­dated at 3:49 Monday to in­clude News­Busters’ re­sponse.

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