Now He Is the Hype
| American Journalism Review
| From AJR, June 1997|
Now He Is the Hype
Rapper Chuck D. joins the Fox News Channel
Public Enemy's Chuck D. can't advise against believing the hype anymore, as he did in P.E.'s 1988 anti-media anthem, "Don't Believe the Hype." He's crossed the line. Now he is the hype.
The thirtysomething rapper is the latest addition to Fox News Channel's lineup, joining the fledgling 24-hour news network as a commentator and correspondent. He also will develop feature news packages and will contribute to various FNC programs, including the network's nightly newscast, as an analyst and occasional guest panelist.
"My fault with the media before was that they weren't well-rounded. They were limited and unbalanced," he says. "I can definitely make changes within by kicking the door down."
Chuck D. (formerly Carlton Ridenhour) says there are parallels between delivering a rap and delivering the news. "Rappers pretty much are descriptive of what we see around us," he says. "News is supposed to do that." Nevertheless, he warns that viewers shouldn't expect any impromptu rhymes to emanate from his news mike.
D., who evolved into his new gig from his experience covering the 1996 Republican Convention for MTV and commenting on recent tragedies on the rap scene for CNN and NBC, says his goal is to take on stories that are overlooked by mainstream newscasts, which he describes as "the last frontier of racism." He says he chose Fox because he considers the network to be "more daring" than others.
The Roosevelt, Long Island, native says he hopes to reach an audience that is not currently being reached by the news, the elusive 30 and under demographic. "I'll probably put a different twist on [news stories] people have taken for granted," he says. "And for those 30 and over, I'll be knocking on their forehead."
His debut on FNC featured a segment on the presidential summit on volunteerism, complete with MTV-esque camerawork and all the attitude fans of Public Enemy (the group that brought the world "Fight the Power") would expect from Chuck D. But D., who has been very vocal with his opinions in the past, says his new assignment isn't to be an anti-establishment talking head or to create a forum for rabble-rousing. He says he merely wants to represent a different perspective on the news and is confident that he can be an objective observer.
"I'll probably let the people talk and hit people that aren't being hit," he says. "That will be more interesting than me running my mouth."
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