In January of 2013, Nightline was demoted to the TV wasteland of 12:35 in the morning. Since then, the ABC program has become increasingly superficial, shedding hard news in favor of crime and celebrity stories. On Thursday, the program got even weirder, spending 30 minutes on white and black racists and mediating a discussion between the two on a supposed coming race war. It all played out like some racist reality TV show.
Byron Pitts profiled Matt Heimbach, a 22-year-old white supremacist who hates Jews, African Americans and gays. ABC took Heimbach to meet a "black national, now an ordained minister who's running for a seat in the U.S. Congress and warns that a race war is coming." Pitts marveled, "The two find common cause in a common enemy, corporate America." Heimbach enthused, "Why don't we hang a couple of bankers instead of random white people?" Mmoja Ajabu agreed, "Well, I think we're finding common ground." [See video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Heimbach cheered, "Will you shake my hand on saying we need to get rid of the international elite?" Pitts then jumped in to mediate a discussion about a looming race war, noting, "After their common enemies are dealt with, it will finally be time to deal with each other."
The online version of the story featured Mark Potok of the Southern Povertly Law Center. Potok, a liberal, blamed the hate on anti-Obama rage in the wake the President's election:
In the last decade, the number of hate groups has nearly doubled from 602 to 1,007, according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"The election of Barack Obama ... has ginned up the anger and fury out there," Potok said. "The fact that a black man was elected president, not once but twice, has merely added to that fury."
Yet, despite the fact that Ajabu and Heimbach both uttered hard-left, anti-capitalist sentiment, there was no labeling of their views as liberal.
At one point, Pitts asserted, "The fact is, Matt says publicly, what many may think privately." He then featured a clip of Heimbach attacking, "Gay marriage shouldn't happen."
To recap, Nightline spent an entire 30 minutes on "the young, the racist," taking Heimbach to various parts of the country in order to meet other racists. The show also followed him as he went on a college campus to offer anti-Semitic attacks.
What, exactly, is the point of it all? Instead of showcasing delusional bigots, perhaps the program could devote episodes to real-life, relevant scandals such as the IRS targeting of the Tea Party or the terrorist attack in Benghazi?