NBC Highlights Downbeat 'State of Black America' Report

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted the downbeat “State of Black America 2009” report, but failed to identify the group behind it, the National Urban League, as liberal nor note the left-wing policy prescriptions recommended in the report. Though NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged Barack Obama's election “was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations,” he warned that “today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound.”

Reporter Ron Mott explained: “Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress.” National Urban League President Marc Morial, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, then charged: “The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies.”

Mott recited several metrics about black Americans, including how they are “more than six times as likely to be in prison” -- hardly something that President Bush caused -- before vaguely referring to how “today's report offers 31 recommendations to the President -- everything from mortgage counseling to health care, so that more blacks might see their dreams become reality.” Those recommendations, however, are a litany of left-wing, big government ideas, from “guarantee that all three- and four-year olds have access to full day, developmentally appropriate, high quality early childhood education” to “implement a comprehensive and universal health insurance system for all Americans.”

Much of the report is made up of essays, such as: 
“Nothing Trickles Down: How Reaganomics Failed America” by William E. Spriggs, professor and chair of the department of economics at Howard University, examines the damaging aspects of Reaganomics, and how it was economically detrimental to African-Americans.
The report costs $19.95, but you can read the full list of essay topics and the recommendations in the Executive Summary.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Wednesday, March 25 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: In that news conference we televised last night, President Obama was asked about his role as the nation's first African-American President. He noted he had about a day to think about it before he had to get to work, and it was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations. But today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound. More from NBC's Ron Mott.

RON MOTT: Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress.

MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies.

MOTT: According to the report, blacks are three times more likely to live in poverty as whites, more than six times as likely to be in prison, and blacks lag behind in home ownership and median household income.

ANN COMPTON OF ABC NEWS, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: Could I ask you about race?

BARACK OBAMA: You may.

MOTT: During his prime time news conference Tuesday night, the President was asked whether race played a role in any of the policy debates under way at the White House.

OBAMA: Obviously, at the inauguration, I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day.

MOTT: What's lasted longer, according to the report, is the slow but steady widening of the gap between whites and blacks in recent years on priority issues like economics, education and jobs. Soaring unemployment among African-Americans is also high on the list of priorities. In February, that number hit 13.4 percent, even worse for black men -- more than 16 percent, twice the national average. There are, of course, exceptions. Since we profiled her new personal fitness business in Atlanta a year ago, Amber O'Neill has doubled her work force.

AMBER O'NEILL, FITNESS TRAINER: What I've got right now is what I dreamed about, but when I got here, my dreams got bigger.

MOTT: Today's report offers 31 recommendations to the President -- everything from mortgage counseling to health care, so that more blacks might see their dreams become reality, too. Ron Mott, NBC News, Atlanta.
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