Dear Fox News: Hip-Hop ≠ Obama Endorsement

Two things I know to be true:

1. This photo of Colin Powell, retired general, former Secretary of State, and Object of Admiration of pretty much everyone, is unfortunate. And also kind of funny. But mostly unfortunate.

2. The existence of this photo provides no evidence of any kind that Powell will be endorsing Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States.

This latter point would seem to be obvious—just at it would seem to be obvious that just because someone is African-American doesn’t mean, on its own, that he or she will support an African-American candidate.

Fox News, however, seems to have missed that memo. Here’s the headline from a recent article about Powell: “Hip-Hop-Dancing Colin Powell Fuels Speculation He’ll Endorse Obama.”

And here’s the subhead:

Colin Powell showed off his hip-hop moves at an ‘Africa Rising’ celebration in London Tuesday, fueling speculation that the former secretary of state is about to endorse Barack Obama for president.

Um, what? The fact that Powerll is doing trying to do a hip-hop dance means he’s endorsing the black guy? Seriously, Fox?

Oh, but wait. The logic is more subtle than that. It’s not so much the dancing that’s fueling the Powell-endorsing-Obama speculation; it’s the more general fact that the African-American icon supports African-American culture. Therefore—evidence!—he must be supporting the African-American candidate.

The normally staid former U.S. secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff performed an impromptu hip-hop dance alongside well-known rap stars Tuesday following a speech at a festival in London celebrating African-American music and fashion.

His address at the “Africa Rising” celebration inside London’s Royal Albert Hall fueled speculation that an endorsement of Barack Obama is imminent.

Which, just…baffling. Sure, Powell may well endorse Obama. But if he does, the elder statesman’s reasoning will surely be more complex than “his skin looks like mine.” So, once again, I have to ask: Seriously, Fox? Seriously??

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.