A laughable mistake

All right now, that’s enough ragging on Fox News for putting up a picture of Patti LaBelle when they should have put up a picture of Aretha Franklin who, after all, was the singer who died.

The folks at Fox News SINCERELY believe that all black people are interchangeable so they keep around just a few photos of black men and women, because if they kept photos of all the famous black men and women who might die, their servers would be too chock full to hold any more pictures of Donald What’s His Name and to Fox News, the more pictures of Donald Last Name That Has Something To Do With The Card Game Bridge they have, the better they feel because they need to look at him at least three times a day to remember who he is and how much they really, REALLY love the living heck out of him. (Sounds of Fox News people kissing photos on computer screens.)

So, they put up a picture of Patti LaBelle instead of Aretha Franklin. So what? Two thirds of the people who watch Fox News wouldn’t know the difference, either.

“She’s black. She’s a woman. That’s close enough.”

Some of you — people who can think, for instance — might wonder how something like that can happen and I can tell you:

FOX NEWS PRODUCER: Hey, Bill. Some black chick just died. We got any pictures of black chicks?

BILL: Yeah. I got a whole file, maybe three pictures.

PRODUCER: OK. Gimme one.

BILL: Any particulars?

PRODUCER: Well, yeah. Make sure she’s black. Other than that, nah.

They did get that part right: Patti LaBelle is black. They could have put up a picture of Grace Slick. She’s about the same age as Aretha Franklin was when she died and they must have a picture somewhere of Grace Slick under the heading of “ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE.” But maybe that category didn’t overlap with the category that contains the three pics of black women, although you have to wonder: At Fox News, aren’t all black people ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE?

Maybe not Clarence Thomas. They like him because, well, they KNOW Anita Hill’s a damn liar, so Clarence is OK because Anita Hill, being a black woman — is her picture one of the three in the Fox News BLACK WOMEN WHO MIGHT DIE file? — has to be lying because, you know, she’s black and she’s A WOMAN. They all lie.

And what if they don’t have a picture of Anita Hill and she dies? Will they put up a picture of Willie Mays? Willie MUST be one of the three black men whose pictures they have, black men the cats at Fox News sort of recognize. Let’s see: Willie Mays, Ray Charles and, yeah, of course, Clarence Thomas.

I doubt they have a picture of Anita Hill. We KNOW they have one of Patti LaBelle and somewhere they got a picture — albeit belatedly — of Aretha Franklin (don’t assume she was one of the three in their files; with her, now, they have four black women pictures to use interchangeably. Oh, look, Nina Simone came back from the dead. Where’s that picture of Patti LaBelle. It’s suitable for all occasions, at least ones where black women die. And Nina sang nasty things about white people, anyway.)

Nina did, you know. “Mississippi Goddamn” and “Mr. Backlash.” YouTube ’em. Nina was the best, even if she never got to a concert on time.

Which segues into that I never was a big Aretha fan. Loved Nina, loved Sarah Vaughan, seriously liked Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, but not Aretha. I thought she lacked delicacy. Nina could be nasty but Nina could also be delicate — “I Loves You, Porgy.” Sarah Vaughan’s voice was the definition of beautiful and delicate. Ella was a little too big-bandy for me. And I was never big on Aretha’s choice of music. “Respect” had a nice edge to it but it always sounded a little too much like a request. With Nina, it would have been a DEMAND!

And Nina took that piece of junk “My Way” that Sinatra did little with and, with the aid of one hell of a bongo drum riff by Edward Roman, turned it into something brilliant. With Sinatra, it always sounded like an excuse. With Nina, it was …

“You don’t like how I lived? Tough.”

But Aretha Franklin was a musical icon, so what are we to make of the fact that Fox News thought she was Patti LaBelle, or thought Patti LaBelle was Aretha? Are they just stupid over there?

Or is it really possible that to them, black people really are interchangeable? Oh, c’mon, that’s just silly. Isn’t it? Surely if Clarence Thomas is in the news, they won’t put up a picture of Al Sharpton.

But it would be kind of cool if they did.