IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Fox News site calls Obama party a 'Hip-Hop BBQ'

To most news websites, what happened at the White House was a private 50th birthday party for the president. To an editor at Fox News, it was something a little different.
/ Source: The New York Times

To most news Web sites, what happened at the White House on Thursday night was a private 50th birthday party for President Obama. To an editor at Fox News, it was something a little different.

“Obama’s Hip-Hop BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs,” read the headline on an article on a conservative arm of, which is owned by the News Corporation. Below the headline were photos of Mr. Obama and, separately, three black celebrities who attended the party, the basketball player Charles Barkley, the comedian Chris Rock and the rapper Jay-Z.

Not pictured were any attendees of other racial backgrounds, like the actor Tom Hanks or Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago.

The article, published Friday morning, generated more than 2,000 comments and substantial objections from people who found it to be inaccurate at best and racist at worst. , a progressive group that campaigns against Fox, asserted that the article was part of a pattern of “race-baiting headlines and content” on the Web site.

No reporter or editor’s name was attached to the “hip-hop BBQ” article. Through a spokeswoman, Bill Shine, the executive vice president for programming at Fox News, declined to say whether the article adhered to the site’s standards.

The “didn’t create jobs” comment in the Fox headline most likely was a reference to the White House press secretary Jay Carney’s statement earlier this week that “the White House doesn’t create jobs.” Mr. Carney said the White House declined to comment on the Fox article.

The Fox Nation, an offshoot of the main Fox News site, exists mostly to elicit comments from users and link to news sources. The “hip-hop BBQ” article contained no original reporting; rather, it contained excerpts from several accounts of Mr. Obama’s party, including Politico’s, which listed the attendees and noted that the party included jazz and R&B performances and a D.J.’s hip-hop music.

“The president asked everyone to dance — and they did!” read the Politico account. The menu included barbecue chicken, ribs, hot dogs and salad.

Mr. Shine said in a statement, “We used the hip-hop reference per Politico’s Playbook story this morning which stated ‘Also present: Chicago pals, law-school friends, donors — and lots of kids of friends, who stole the show by doing dance routines to the hip-hop songs, in the center of the East Room.’ ”

A small number of the user comments on the article page were overtly racist, while others condemned the article; one such comment stated, “Racism is still alive, and Fox Nation is exploiting it.”

Mr. Shine said, “We found many of the comments to be offensive and inappropriate and they have been removed. We also shut down further comments on this piece.”

On Twitter and in blog posts on Friday, media critics and political reporters expressed a mixture of shock and amusement at the article; some said it was outwardly race-baiting while others joked about what would be served at an actual hip-hop BBQ.

“Keyshia Coleslaw,” suggested Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, referring to the singer Keyshia Cole. Through the wisecracks and the outraged responses, the article reached many more people than it otherwise would have.

Several times this year, articles on Fox’s Web sites and segments on its broadcasts have been scrutinized by Media Matters staff members and others for possible racial overtones.

In May, the channel devoted significant time to conservative complaints about the rapper Common’s attendance at a White House poetry event. In June, an anchor on Fox Business, a sister channel, said of the president of Gabon’s visit to the White House, “it’s not the first time” Mr. Obama has had “a hoodlum in the hizzouse.”

The anchor, Eric Bolling, later said “We got a little fast and loose with the language.”

This article, ,’" first appeared in the Media Decoder blog of The New York Times.