Stephanopoulos: 'Subtle Racial Code' in Ridicule of 'Community Organizers'?

ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who when interviewing John McCain six weeks ago scolded him for a criticism of Barack Obama (“I can't believe you believe that”), on Sunday's This Week prodded Obama to agree with those of his supporters who “heard subtle racial code” in the ridiculing, at the Republican convention, of his “community organizer” work. Stephanopoulos, who did challenge Obama to name three things he'd do as President which “would be unpopular with the Democrats in Congress” and to acknowledge McCain was correct on the surge, also cued up Obama on Sarah Palin's qualifications: “You said that your number one criteria for vice presidential pick was someone that's capable of being President. Did John McCain meet the threshold test?”

In the interview taped in Terre Haute, in what appeared to be a barn, Stephanopoulos noted that “it's pretty clear they didn't think too much of your early career as a community organizer. Governor Palin. Rudy Giuliani.” After a clip from Giuliani which produced boos from the Republican faithful, Stephanopoulos wondered: “What were you thinking when you heard the boos, the laugher?” Saying “it's curious to me that they would mock” his community organizer work, Stephanopoulos contended:
You're smiling about it, but some of your supporters were listening and they heard subtle racial code.
My July 28 NewsBusters item, “Stephanopoulos to McCain: 'I Can't Believe You Believe That,'” recounted:
On Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos condemned John McCain for charging that "Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." Stephanopoulos, who interviewed McCain on Saturday at his Arizona ranch, declared: "I can't believe you believe that." McCain insisted "I'm not questioning his patriotism. I'm questioning his actions. I'm questioning his lack, total lack of understanding," leading Stephanopoulos to counter: "But that is questioning his patriotism. When you say someone would rather lose a war, a candidate, that's questioning his honor, his decency, his character."

As McCain continued to defend his assessment, Stephanopoulos kept rejecting his reasoning ("So putting lives at risk for a political campaign, you believe he's doing that?") and excoriating his characterization of Obama: "But you're questioning his motives."
From the Sunday, September 7 This Week on ABC:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: It's pretty clear they didn't think too much of your early career as a community organizer. Governor Palin. Rudy Giuliani.

RUDY GIULIANI, AT REPUBLICAN CONVENTION: He worked as a community organizer. He immersed himself in Chicago machine politics. (boos from audience)

STEPHANOPOULOS: What were you thinking when you heard the boos, the laugher?

BARACK OBAMA: It's a real puzzling thing. I mean, understand what I -- what I did, as a community organizer. When I got out of college as a young person, 24, 25 years old, I had moved to Chicago and worked with churches, who were dealing with steel plants that had closed in their neighborhoods, to set up job training programs for the unemployed. And after school programs for youth. And to try to deal with asbestos in homes of poor people. Community service work, which John McCain has been talking about putting country first, and extolling the virtues of national service, that's what I did between the ages of 24 and 27, before I went to law school. I would think that's what we want all our young people to do. I would think that that's an area where Democrats and Republicans would agree. So it's curious to me, that they would mock that, when I, at least think that that's exactly what young people should be doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're smiling about it, but some of your supporters were listening and they heard subtle racial code.

OBAMA: You know, I didn't hear that. I just think that there is a -- for folks who suddenly have tried to grab the change banner, they've got a very traditional view of what service means...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center