Preview of my first book: Race-Baiter, to be featured Saturday at Times Festival of Reading
It will surprise no one that my first book involves the intersection of media, race and society.
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the ways in which our obsessions and dysfunctions as a society are reflected in our pop culture and media -- especially on the topic of race difference.
So I spent much of last December and the beginning of this year pulling together a book on the subject, titled Race-Baiter, named for the term often slapped on me by those who disagree with my perspective on these issues -- most prominently, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly.
The Times Festival of Reading has been kind enough to let me talk about the book on Saturday, at 11:45 a.m. in the Barnes Pavilion at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Read more about the festival by clicking here.
Anyone who finds the subject compelling can feel free to join me there; I'll talk a bit about the book, which looks at the different ways outlets use prejudice and conflict over various differences to draw audiences in an increasingly fragmented media age.
The Tampa Bay Times published an excerpt of the book's introduction, which starts with me trying to engage O'Reilly on the question of why he called me a race baiter on his show years ago, at a press conference just before a speech he was to give in Sarasota earlier this year.
The excerpt begins:
"The first and only time I met Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly, he looked at me like I owed him money.
The situation was, I will admit, an uncomfortable one. He and a publicity executive at Fox News had already turned down an interview request for this very book, despite the fact that he inspired the title. And though he planned several stops around my St. Petersburg, Fla., home base to tout his own book in early 2012, sharing a cup of joe with me was not particularly high on his to-do list.
That's because we have, as a therapist might say, a bit of history.
At various times on his top-rated evening cablecast, O'Reilly has called me "dishonest," "racially motivated," and "one of the biggest race-baiters in the country" for criticizing the way he talks about race on his program.
So as I planned this tome on how race issues and prejudice play out in media, I wanted to talk with O'Reilly. And he didn't want to talk with me."