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On the Media Smear Campaign Against Shaun King

October 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In August, a vicious smear campaign was launched in the media against Shaun King, a journalist at Daily Kos and a prominent voice against police murder and terror. The smear campaign was begun by the fascist website, which published a despicable article in an attempt to discredit King. The article made accusations that King lied about a parent being Black in order to qualify for an Oprah Winfrey-sponsored scholarship to Morehouse College. The article also accused King of greatly exaggerating attacks he suffered in high school in a beating at the hands of racist students. In fact, King was out of school for 20 months and suffered multiple surgeries as a result of this beating. Stories on and other right-wing websites published pictures purporting to show King’s birth certificate and pictures of him and his family when he was young, as “proof” that King is “100% white,” and therefore supposedly a “fraud.” Right after this article appeared, King and his family were hit with constant death threats and racist harassment and had to take various measures to protect their security.

Shaun King himself has forcefully addressed these bullshit lies and their motivation in detail (see “Race, love, hate, and me: A distinctly American Story” at Daily Kos.

The initial story in the right-wing gutter press was eagerly picked up by the mainstream media. The New York Daily News echoed with its story headlined, “Rachel Dolezal 2.0? Shaun King, activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, has race questioned.” The New York Times and CNN both picked it up and repeated these lies, arguments, and assumptions while raising a few and posing a few questions and doubts. By treating it as a legitimate story, the Times and CNN gave credence to and spread the poison far and wide. CNN indulged in National Enquirer-style media coverage like the ludicrous and vicious spectacle of CNN’s resident Uncle Tom, Don Lemon, texting Shaun King and asking him loaded “gotcha” questions about his and his family’s history based on lies from snarling racists and then putting all this on the air. On the Internet, Shaun King and the media attacks on him became top trends on Twitter for a while.

In early September, it came to light that the original source for the hit piece on Shaun King at was arrested. The FBI arrested the 20-year-old fascist Internet troll, Joshua Goldberg. Goldberg was charged by the FBI—itself up to its neck in Internet dirty work—for alleged online posts in which Goldberg posed as a Muslim fundamentalist under the moniker “Australi Witness” and allegedly went too far in trying to instigate others (apparently including an FBI informant) to carry out indiscriminate violent attacks on this year’s Kansas City commemoration of the 9/11 attacks.

It turns out that Goldberg played a major role in initiating the attack on Shaun King at Goldberg fed the author of the story “information” and “suggestions” for the story. The Breitbart author is now trying to downplay the role Goldberg played in the story and brush off his contacts with Goldberg as trivial, but his major role is well documented.

Goldberg is a longtime fascist who devotes most of his efforts to attacking those he sees as “social justice warriors.” He has used and shifted between numerous online personas (including impersonating people he was attacking) to smear, attack, and set up those he perceived as “leftists,” feminists, and Muslims. He is a regular on the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer(the online forum of the neo-Nazi Stormfront organization). He has used Twitter voraciously under many names and has had numerous Wikipedia accounts he has used to write and edit articles, often to serve his handiwork elsewhere on the Internet.

While the mainstream media reported on the arrest of Goldberg, only a few reported on his other activity on the Internet and, curiously, no major media reported on the fact that he was involved in sparking the smear campaign against Shaun King that they themselves picked up and spread. CNN and the New York Times did not do a major examination of how they had been wrong to give any credence to the story in the first place. Not a peep from them on this.

Prominent individual journalists spoke out in defense of King, as did many activists who appreciate his work exposing police murders and suspicious deaths in custody. There are people outspoken about police brutality who got played and drawn into repeating “did you hear about Shaun King?” as if there was a scandal here. This is a huge lesson both about the importance of basing oneself on the truth and also how “identity politics” (the idea that, for instance, only Black people can understand and speak out against the oppression of Black people) can hand-tie a movement to really uproot this oppression. The right-wing media and fascist trolls like Goldberg were trading on this to get over with their bullshit.

While Shaun King is in fact bi-racial and has suffered greatly in his life for being Black and speaking up, it does not matter one iota what “percentage” is anyone Black when it comes to his or her right and responsibility to speak out and fight against the oppression of Black people. There is, in fact, no “scandal” here at all, only a bogus attack aimed at discrediting and shifting the focus away from ending police murder and white supremacy. And people who should have known better got drawn into repeating the lies. What was being done by the media in their coverage of Shaun King's story sets very wrong terms. It aims to confuse and sidetrack people by playing on wrong and very harmful thinking that divides people by ethnicity and nationality when it comes to who has a right and duty to speak and act against their own oppression or that of others, and hinders people from uniting to fight all oppression. It does this in order to silence the voices that need to be speaking out louder than ever.



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