Why are Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh among the few pundits talking about Pepsi's offensive Super Bowl ad?
The good folks at Groupon have been drowning in so much blowback over their ad appearing to make light of the Chinese government 's brutal opporession of Tibet, that they have yanked the ads from broadcast.
But there's another controversial Super Bowl ad that few mainstream media outlets seem to be talking about -- outside of NPR and two of media's biggest bastions of racial sensititivty, Fox News Channel pundit Bill O'Reilly and conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh.
And the silence is a bit puzzling.
The ad, by Pepsi Max, features a black couple where the women is physically dominating the guy throughout, pushing he face into a pie, snatching a hamburger he's not supposed to eat and throwing a soda can at him when he ogles a cut white female jogger. He ducks and the can hit her instead, causing the coupel to slink away before someone notices.
I was surprised that Pepsi Max would air such an ad which loaded so many stereotypes into a 30-second bit: the controlling, angry black woman; the black guy who can't control himself; the black man who lusts after white women; the black woman who is enraged by her man's interest in white women.
But controversy over the ad seemed confined to Twitter, Facebook and black-focused media until U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee denounced the ad on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday, calling it "ridiculous" and "demeaning" that Pepsi would air the ad during black history month.
NPR host Michel Martin and I had dissected the ad on her show Tell Me More Tuesday; I had already criticized the ad on my blog before the game even aired, repeating that criticism in Monday's newspaper. But I didn't see many other mainstream media voices talking about these themes -- until O'Reilly and Limbaugh spoke up.
Limbaugh kept up his habit of gleeful race baiting, declaring the ad had no racial component at all, just before insinuating that Pepsi was trying to ingratiate itself with black female consumers by playing on their imagined hatred of blond white women.
But O'Reilly slid into his new, more conciliatory role, pulling together two black female experts to debate the issue -- leaving little doubt where he stood, but giving the expert who found offense room to make her point. He even seemed more dismissive of the arguments his conservatvie ally was making for shrugging off the commercial.
Bottom line: This won't cause anybody but a Pepsi executive to lose any sleep. But it is a bit troubling when the biggest names in mainstream media who will discuss race issues wind up being guys with a history of serving as provacateurs and disbelievers in institutional racism.
Check out the ad, O'Reilly's conversation about it and my NPR bit below.