“The fact is, there’s a media fixation on race that ends up dividing people, pitting different groups against different groups,” Yang said. “This was painful for me because I know Michelle Wu. I was happy for her, and then to see her victory diminished because it wasn’t the right kind of victory just sends a terrible message.”
The liberal, taxpayer-funded outlet took fire this week for its piece amplifying angst over Wu, an Asian American, becoming the first elected mayor of color in Boston, instead of one of the three African-American candidates who sought the office. NPR deleted a tweet promoting the story and apologized for it causing “harm,” but the tweet mirrored the first paragraph of a story that suggested White racism played into Wu’s victory.
“NPR’s tweet wasn’t really the problem,” Yang said. “The article substantively was that tweet.”
The article spent much of its length documenting somber reactions to Wu’s victory, with one interviewee admitting he “cried [his] eyes out” because he didn’t know the next time he would see a Black mayor in the city – then-acting mayor Kim Jansen is Black but inherited the position after Marty Walsh left to run the Department of Labor.
The story also drew on polling data showing Wu, a staunch progressive in the mold of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., performed better in more White areas. It quoted a former state lawmaker who called the numbers “troubling.”
NPR’s piece drew bipartisan scorn, with voices ripping NPR for downplaying Wu’s accomplishment and appearing to create a racial hierarchy for meaningful milestones.
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld criticized the “stupid White liberals at NPR” for running the piece.
“When it’s convenient, Asians go from non-White to White-adjacent,” he said.
Wu was sworn in on Tuesday as both the first woman and person of color elected to the position. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School before being unanimously chosen to serve on the Boston City Council at 28 years old. She defeated fellow Democrat Essaibi George, who identifies as Arab American, in the general election after they were the top two finishers in the nonpartisan primary.
Yang made his first appearance on Gutfeld’s popular late-night Fox show Wednesday, weeks after leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent.