THE JOURNALISM OF RACE: Tafoya cited "affinity groups!"


This launched a thousand scripts: Several weeks ago, in reaction to a comment to a certain blog post delivered by a history teacher, we rented the famous film Casablanca and watched it several times.

According to an array of scholars, Casablanca is the greatest known study of our human nature. Its anthropological nugget goes like this: 

We humans prefer to gamble and play. But if you push us far enough, we will fight back in the end.

Casablanca is always at least very good. This time around, we were struck by a line we'd previously always brushed past.

The line is spoken by Annina Brandel, the young, newly married Bulgarian woman who is trying, with her naive young husband, to reach the United States. 

At one point, she asks Humphrey Bogart for help. Why are she and her husband trying to get to America? This is what she says:

We come from Bulgaria. Things are very bad there, M'sieu. A devil has the people by the throat.

"A devil has the people by the throat." For whatever reason, that line jumped out this time.

Not far from Bulgaria, a modern-day army is now getting the people by the throat. Within our own tribe's round-the-clock news feeds, this topic has temporarily replaced our steady diet of Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Giuliani.

This new topic will overshadow the latest way our preferred product line seems to have failed. (More on that latest failure to come.) It has also replaced our steady diet of "the journalism of race." 

This article in the Washington Post reminds us of one of the most striking flaws in the way our tribe has been conducting this journalism. Involved is a widespread type of selective reporting. (More on that article to come.) 

That article points to an embarrassing flaw in the way we've conducted our journalism of race. But for today, let's return to what Michele Tafoya said last November 2—to what she said about her children's schools during a guest appearance on The View.

Tafoya lodged a specific complaint about her children's schools. We don't know how valid her complaint may be. As a matter of fact, we don't know if her complaint is valid at all. 

Below, we'll explain why we know so little about her complaint. But since we're discussing the newly-invented journalism of race, let's throw in a bit more background about who Tafoya and her children are, demographics-wise.

That background goes like this:

Tafoya's father, the late Orlando Antonio Tafoya, was "a first-generation Latino" who grew up in New Mexico. Her mother, the late Wilma Conley, "grew up poor, dirt poor, during the Depression" and seems to have been plain old "white."

(We're quoting Tafoya from a recent appearance on The Dan Patrick Show.)

Her parents met in a calculus class as Berkeley undergraduates. They raised four children in SoCal. 

One daughter became an Obama official. Another daughter became a sideline reporter for NBC Sports who defines herself as a pro-choice conservative with libertarian leanings.

The sports reporter appeared on The View last November 2. Again, we'll show you what she said about her children's schools, but first we'll tell you this:

Tafoya's husband, Mark Vandersall, seems to be plain old Minnesota white. On that basis, we'll assume that their 16-year-old son will be classified that way too.

Their 13-year-old daughter was adopted from Colombia. According to Tafoya, her employer at the time "allowed me to take two months to live in Bogota while we adopted our daughter. That was a phenomenal experience."

We've now had naming of parts! This will let us apply Preferred Storyline in the most effective way possible. (We speak in these unpleasant ways because, in our estimation, vast amounts of our newly-invented journalism of race are almost completely performative.)

Having accomplished our naming of parts, we're prepared to show you, once again, what Tafoya said on November 2. First though, a spoiler alert:

Tafoya's comments about "affinity groups" triggered a wave of lectures about a different topic. Once again, here's what Tafoya said:

TAFOYA (11/2/22): My kids in school—there is a big, big focus on the color of your skin.

INTERJECTION: How old are your children?

TAFOYA: My children are now 16 and 13

INTERJECTION: In what way?

TAFOYA: It's been going on since they were in lower school, all right? And it is that there are affinity groups on campus for each—

My son's first best friend was a little African-American boy. They were inseparable. Get to a certain age, they start having what's called an "affinity group," which means you go for lunch and pizza with people who look like you. Suddenly, my son wasn't hanging out with him any more.

His next best friend was a little Korean boy. Years, inseparable. He started going to his affinity groups. 

Why are we even teaching that the color of the skin matters? Because to me, what matters is your character and your values.

That's what Tafoya said. As we've noted previously, we're guessing that her kids attend the Edina, Minnesota Public Schools, which instituted a social justice program, "All for All," back in 2013.

Question: Is something wrong with the affinity groups Tafoya mentioned that day? Are they driving wedges between groups of kids? Are they teaching kids "that the color of their skin matters" in some inappropriate way?

In part because of what happened after Tafoya spoke, we have no idea! But before we extend our account of what happened next, we'll deliver this political warning:

Warning! We'll guess that, if the topic was polled, a large majority of American adults would agree with the idea that "what matters is your character and your values." We'll guess that would include a large majority of American adults who hail from various "races."

"What matters is your character and your values?" That's a highly imprecise statement, but it's also modern American scripture. And uh-oh:

When we progressives get a snootful and start seeming to trample on that dogma, we may sometimes tend to trigger backlashes at the polls, even in San Francisco!

Tafoya voiced a negative view about those "affinity groups." But how exactly do those groups work? What are children in her kids' schools invited or directed to do?

We have no idea! In part, we have no idea because of the way The View's four regular panelists reacted to what Tafoya said. 

Long story short:

Tafoya complained about one type of behavior. The four regular panelists from "ABC News" launched a series of filibusters about a different topic—about a topic concerning which they knew the preconceived scripts.

Briefly, a confession! We were surprised to see that The View is listed as part of ABC News

We would have assumed that it was part of the entertainment division. According to the leading authority on the topic, the chronology goes like this:

Beginning in its tenth season [in 2007], the series became subject to on-air controversies and media criticism involving its panel of co-hosts. It was transferred from the helm of ABC's entertainment division to that of ABC News in 2014 following a decline in ratings. By 2021, The View had become the most-viewed news and talk program in daytime television.

The View got re-branded as a "news" show in 2014. That said, the program rather plainly exists to create a series of defiantly stupid pseudo-discussions, resulting in the "on-air controversies" which help keep it number one.

So it went on November 2 after Tafoya lodged her complaint. Tafoya complained about one thing. Her officious, rude, unintelligent hosts took turns sounding off about something different and dumber.

On Monday, we stated a basic principle about the newly-invented journalism of trace:

The great thing about the journalism of race is that we in our failing tribe always get to be right.

So it was when Tafoya spoke about something that's done in her children's schools. She stated her view back in November and then again, just last week, on Tucker Carlson Tonight.

In each case, tribunes of our embarrassing tribe landed on her like a ton of bricks. She had offered a specific complaint. Again and again, our tribunes' self-assured scripts concerned something totally different.

We thought Tafoya's host on The View were officious, unintelligent, rude. If you want to see them orate, you can click this first. After that, you can click here.

Warning! The Others are able to see us when we perform in these ways. It's one of the ways we lose elections, and with those elections the world.

A devil has the people by the throat? So perhaps do our failing tribe's corporate "news" divisions!

Meanwhile, is something wrong with those affinity groups? Like everyone else who was watching that show, we have no idea!

We don't even know where her kids go to school! The fact is, nobody cares!

Tomorrow: Various lectures and putdowns


  1. "Why are we even teaching that the color of the skin matters? Because to me, what matters is your character and your values."

    Of course we agree that the skin color doesn't matter.

    But what's with this "character and values" thing?

    People have different characters and different 'values', whatever that is. It takes all kinds. Quite simply, there are many different people on this planet. End of story. Leave them alone, please.

    1. That reminds me.

      Are the ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia... I mean Russians living in eastern Ukraine a purer caucasian race than those lower class slav Ukrainian people?

  2. Russia has invaded Ukraine, but Somerby says:

    "But for today, let's return to what Michele Tafoya said last November 2"

    No thank you. We all should have better things to worry about.

    1. Anonymouse11:28am, scroll down.

      It ain’t me.

      It’s you.

    2. No, Cecelia, this is a criticism of Somerby, not those who comment on his work.

  3. Somerby pretends that Tafoya is in the news because of her View comments. But actually she has traded in her TV career to become a Republican political operative. She may even have ambitions of running herself, learning the ropes by working on someone else's campaign.

    Tafoya is not in the news for a stale View appearance and she was not let go by MSNBC because of what she said on The View. She left to pursue her own political ambitions.

    To that end, she was featured on Tucker Carlson's show last week, which is why Somerby has revived that old View appearance:

    Her ideas about race are critiqued here:

    Somerby obviously likes what she had to say about race, not about schools since neither of them knows what happened there. But he is also joining Fox in promoting her political ambitions by making her his cause this week. But he continues to ignore her current activities as a conservative activist, her appearance on Carlson's show, and the reasons why she is using race to boost her efforts, the way nearly all Republicans do, because that is what Republicans are about these days.

    Somerby should point out and decry her race-baiting. Instead, he joins her. And once again, anyone who considers Somerby liberal has to be the world's biggest moron.

  4. "We don't even know where her kids go to school! The fact is, nobody cares!"

    That's right, no one cares what Tafoya says about affinity groups. Somerby calls The View hosts unintelligent, but how dumb is Tafoya when she cannot give any specifics about what is happening to her kids, but is just damned sure that the schools has ruined their friendships with diverse kids.

    This is ridiculous. The main question is why Somerby takes someone like Tafoya seriously. And if he cares about affinity groups himself, there are lots of places he can find out more about them. Lazy man that he is, he doesn't bother either, and that makes his statement that nobody cares 100% true -- not even Somerby cares.

  5. Affinity group is the new CRT.

    Back in 1993, the University of California at Irvine created several new apartment complexes designated as specifically for clubs and those with shared interests, such as the same major, as well as those belonging to a shared campus subculture. These were occasionally referred to as affinity housing. But students were allowed to choose whether to live there or not. I graduated in 1993, so I don't know how successful they were at attracting students in groups (athletics, foreign languages, gamers, clubs, and yes ethnicity/race). There was no huge public outcry or student objection, since this had not been made into a culture war issue yet by conservatives. Further, the idea of students choosing who they want to room with was far from novel -- they do it themselves off-campus.

    This all hinges on Tafoya's claim that her kids left their early playmates behind as they got older, but where is the evidence that it had anything to do with the school's actions via affinity groups? As kids get older, they learn about social phenomena such as racism. Since they are going to pick this up by living in our society, why wouldn't parents want to be discussing it with them, in order to help them understand that they need not change their friends because others in our society are racist?

    1. Colleges assert that they need racial diversity, because diversity is good for all students. But, then they establish structures that encourage racial separation. This inconsistency does not make sense.

    2. The structures exist to encourage a variety of kinds of affinities, and there is no way the university can require or prevent students from rooming with whoever they want, on or off campus.

      Doesn't it strike you as hypocritical that our society was encouraging redlining not so long ago, to keep racially diverse people out of white housing developments, and now you complain when black or Hispanic people want to live with their friends? So, it is OK when white people do it, but not when black or brown or culturally diverse people do it?

    3. Stanford U has a black student center. Many colleges have black dormitories. Universities may not force Black students to socialize with other black students, but they do encourage that practice.

    4. And most colleges house athletes together too. So what?

      Here is an example of what black people face when they attempt to do the normal, everyday things that white people do, in this case, shopping while black:

      "A suspect has been arrested after he was caught on video earlier this month attacking a Black woman who was waiting in line at a Philadelphia-area convenience store.

      "The woman said she was standing in line inside of the store when a man stormed in, bumped into her, and then attacked her, an act that was caught through video on her cellphone," reports.

      The 19-year-old victim, who works at the store, told NBC 10 she was waiting in line to make a purchase after her shift when the man bumped into her.

      "It's 2022, this stuff is still going on," the woman said. "I literally just told him, 'Hey, you just ran into me.' And the guy turned around and he started shouting all these racists slurs, telling me he was going to hang me outside the store."

      After the woman's video was shared widely online, 41-year-old Michael James Strickland was arrested and charged with terroristic threats, simple assault, ethnic intimidation and harassment, according to reports."

      Can you blame black people for wanting to live in a place where they feel safe from harassment, at least while sleeping?

  6. "Her officious, rude, unintelligent hosts took turns sounding off about something different and dumber."

    Somerby calls the members of The View officious, unintelligent and rude, using those exact adjectives, several times, as if once were not enough. They are slammed for moving on to a different topic, which Somerby does not discuss -- presumably the existence of racism in our society. But that is how discussions work -- they meander from topic to topic, as people respond to each other's remarks.

    I find myself wondering why the women on The View deserve these harsh words (unintelligent, officious, rude) for expressing their own opinions, after Tafoya expressed hers. Because Somerby does tell us what he objects to, we have no way of knowing what set him off.

    Why does Somerby feel no need to explain The View's remarks but go into detail about what Tafoya said? Why don't these other women deserve the same courtesy, and why don't Somerby's readers deserve the right to decide for ourselves whether any of the View's participants were actually rude or officious or unintelligent. Does he not trust us to make our own decisions?

    Somerby has been doing this a lot lately. At some point he decided to waste space repeating his negative labels instead of explaining why they are deserved. It is as if he thinks that we will all join him by considering women on such a show to be unintelligent, officious, rude. It is as if knocking women will be automatically accepted as true without evidence, because everyone knows that women are like that. And this is misogynistic. How? (1) he dismisses that the other View participants have said anything worth repeating much less discussing. (2) That "officious" label goes with being a Karen, and if Somerby dislikes it when Karens are criticized, why does he turn around and do it himself? (3) Somerby deals in personalities instead of focusing on the issue itself, calling these women rude and unintelligent, instead of considering their opinions. (4) He plainly thinks that a show such as The View is not only stupid, but part of the vast wasteland he invoked to discuss it. (5) If a panel were all men, it would be considered a serious issues discussion, but when it is women, it is dismissed as a coffee klatch.

    And then there is the victimization of Tafoya. By disagreeing with her and stating diverging opinions, the women on the View are making her a victim, picking on her, not taking her seriously by demanding the details Tafoya herself didn't provide. And the black woman, Whoopi, is the worst perpetrator of that victimization, because of course she is.

    Somerby couldn't do a better job of demonstrating the ways that sexism and racism work in our society. Liberals are damned if they ignore things that someone like Tafoya says, but also damned if they respond to them. In such a case, I think the better choice is to refute Tafoya as much as such vagueness can be refuted and make the case against racism, which is what they did.

    Meanwhile, a MAGA gun-owner shot four protesters and killed one because he didn't like them demonstrating in the park near his house. He pretty obviously chose women because he feared men might be more likely to shoot back. Has Somerby chosen to attack Whoopi and the women on The View for a similar reason? It seems likely to me.

    1. Corby, you look at things really stupidly.

    2. Somerby's point here, forever, has been that calling diverse others stupid is no way to understand or appreciate other people. Is he stupid too?

    3. No, you look at things so stupidly. Maybe crazy is more the better description. Or paranoid. You never address the substance of what he writes and instead you attack his motives in a way a 6 year old would. You're a mess girl!

  7. "We humans prefer to gamble and play."

    Last time Somerby said this, he used the proper word "gambol". It seems unlikely he is quoting any expert or he might have gotten the word right this time too. Making shit up and attributing it to fictional others is not cute -- it is dishonest and cowardly.

    As I pointed out last time he said this shit about Casablanca, the people at Rick's Cafe were not there to play but to engage in underground activities, such as selling things, trying to buy exit visas, changing money, and plotting with associates they could not openly associate with. Go watch the movie yourself and see what his patrons are depicted as doing. They are not having fun.

    But Somerby doesn't read his comments, so it is necessary to be as repetitive as he is. Another sign of disrespect toward his audience. A stand up comedian who doesn't pay attention to audience reaction will be handicapped in his efforts to improve his act. That may be what limited Somerby's own career, among other things. Now it has turned him into a tiresome bore who makes embarrassing mistakes that he is compelled to repeat. Not a good look for anyone.

    Others have been suggesting that Somerby is getting paid to shill for the conservatives. If that is true, it might account for why he obviously feels no need to consider his audience at all. His job is now to type dirt and make sure it is posted daily. It doesn't matter what he writes as long as it is consistent with the conservative talking points.

    If he would stop calling himself a liberal, the rest of us could move on and leave him to the conservative cesspool he has chosen to join. But he keeps lying and that means there must be some defense of truth. Somerby's biggest lie is that he is any kind of liberal.

    1. I don't think mention of the invasion of the Ukraine by Putin should be the rhetorical device Somerby has turned it into, much as he does with Robert Frost quotes and Dylan lyrics. It is too important to be trivialized, as Somerby has done today.

      It is almost as if Somerby considers war in Ukraine to be an opportunity to gambol and play, just as he presents WWII as being in the film Casablanca. Who thinks like that, with such absent compassion for the Ukrainians? Conservatives.

    2. Speaking of being paid to post things, this comes from Judd at Popular Information:

      "Yesterday's Popular Information revealed that the Conservative Brief, an obscure right-wing website, was using a network of conservative activists to gain extraordinary success on Facebook. These activists control large Facebook pages and were repeatedly posting links to low-quality aggregated content from the Conservative Brief. The strategy allowed the Conservative Brief, as of this month, to become more popular on Facebook than the New York Times.

      Popular Information reported that the pattern of posting, and technical details about the URLs, strongly suggested there was an undisclosed financial relationship between these activists and Conservative Brief. After the piece was published on Wednesday morning, that relationship was confirmed.

      Prior to publication, Conservative Brief's "About Us" page included only three writers. But on Wednesday, after publication, many of the conservative activists identified by Popular Information as repeatedly posting Conservative Brief links were added to the page.

      Dinesh D’Souza, Sebastian Gorka, and Jenna Ellis, among others, are now listed on the page as "Contributor/Influencer." Since none of these individuals have contributed to the Conservative Brief website, the listing effectively confirms they were paid to post links on Facebook. "

      This makes the idea of Somerby being paid for his work seem more realistic. There are deep-pocket conservatives funding this sort of thing.

    3. “ "Yesterday's Popular Information revealed that the Conservative Brief, an obscure right-wing website, was using a network of conservative activists to gain extraordinary success on Facebook. These activists control large Facebook pages and were repeatedly posting links to low-quality aggregated content from the Conservative Brief. The strategy allowed the Conservative Brief, as of this month, to become more popular on Facebook than the New York Times.”

      My condolences. Popular, indeed.

    4. The point, in case you missed it, is that conservatives are manipulating Facebook to produce dishonest ratings. The payment for links is against Facebook's rules, not that such a thing would bother a conservative like you, Cecelia.

  8. "So it was when Tafoya spoke about something that's done in her children's schools."

    We have no idea what was being done in Tafoya's children's schools. Somerby accepts her assertions as true without any evidence. Why?

    1. He doesn't. He pointed out that no one tried to ascertain what actually was going in Tafoya's children's school.

  9. Patently false, liar.

    Somerby decried the “Journalism of Race” which has still done nothing to verify Tafoya‘s claims while you called him a heretic for wanting proof.

    1. Did Carlson verify her claims?

      Why is Somerby expecting journalism by watching The View? That seems stupid to me.

  10. Somerby seems to dislike the View hosts.

    Good for him, in this series “The Journalism of Race” to go after those titans of journalism Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar.

    Can’t get more journalism-y than that, unless you want to examine Steve Doocy’s hard-hitting “journalism” over at Fox & Friends.

    Good use of Somerby’s time.

    1. Interestingly, both Goldberg and Behar started as standup comedians.

  11. Print Tafoya's address. I'll mail her one of those hilarious Trump for President t-shirts that says "Fuck Your Feelings".

  12. “Her officious, rude, unintelligent hosts took turns sounding off”

    Hiss! Hiss-spit! Hiss-spit! Meeee-ow!!