Glen Ford, Progressive Journalist and Constant Critic of the Liberal Establishment, Dies at 71

Glen Ford in the 1970s. As a journalist, he took aim at the intersection of corporate interests and what he called the Black “misleadership” class. (Credit…via Tonya Rutherford)

Glen Ford, who over a 50-year career was a leading voice among progressive Black journalists and a constant scourge of the liberal establishment, especially Black politicians like Barack Obama, died on July 28 in Manhattan. He was 71.

His daughter, Tonya Rutherford, said the cause was cancer.

Originally as a radio news reporter in Augusta, Ga., and later as a television and online correspondent, Mr. Ford offered his audience a progressive perspective across a wide array of issues, including welfare rights, foreign policy and police misconduct.

He took particular aim at the nexus of the mainstream news media and what he called the Black “misleadership” class. He argued that right-wing corporate interests bestowed money on certain centrist Black politicians, like Mr. Obama, whom he called “not the lesser of evils, but the more effective evil”; those leaders, he argued, then drew the attention of corporate-run news organizations, in the process marginalizing the interests of working-class Black people.

“He was a great path blazer in terms of being an independent Black institution in the media focused on truth telling,” the philosopher Cornel West, a close friend of Mr. Ford’s, said in an interview. “He had the courage to acknowledge the neglect, indeed the betrayal, of the Black political leadership that did not highlight the plight of the Black poor.”

Mr. Ford criticized President Obama for taking money from corporate interests and pursuing a policy of fiscal austerity during the 2009 financial crisis, even as he spent billions rescuing banks.

“It was Obama, two weeks before he even took the oath of office, who said that entitlements would all be on the table,” he said in a 2012 debate with the sociologist Michael Eric Dyson. “This was at a period in which the Republicans were in disarray, couldn’t mount a challenge to anything.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Clay Risen