NBC: 'Blunt' Carter 'Prompted Us to Reexamine Our Assumptions About Race'

An evening after trumpeting President Jimmy Carter's racism charge (“An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man”), NBC led Wednesday night with the “fallout” as Andrea Mitchell proposed that though “many thought” the “racial divisions” were “healed by the election of the first African-American President,” Carter's “blunt comments” have “prompted us to re-examine our assumptions about race” -- as if everyone is like those at NBC who adjust their views based on what Carter says.

Mitchell proceeded to smear the tea party activists, corroborated by just two racist posters the network managed to find:

In a season of angry protests, there are ugly signs that some of it is not rooted in bailout fatigue or suspicion of big government. Mixed in the anti-Obama crowds over recent weeks, racial slurs against the President of the United States. All that, plus an unprecedented interruption of the President's speech to Congress prompting Jimmy Carter's blunt comments first broadcast on Nightly News last night.
After Mitchell recounted how “Carter's comments ignited a verbal fire storm. On talk radio: two nations. On one side, Rush Limbaugh and his followers....On the other side, callers to Al Sharpton's show,” urged viewers to “listen to Congressman James Clyburn on whether racism in politics is real” and featured Bill Cosby, “who agrees with Jimmy Carter,” she concluded by channeling Chris Matthews:
Is there evidence of hard core anti-Obama sentiment? Well, when you look at how people voted last fall by region, in the south ten percent of white voters in Alabama went for Obama, eleven percent of whites in Mississippi voted for him. In Louisiana, that number was fourteen percent. But the national number of white voters who went for Barack Obama was 43 percent.
(Southern whites being less-enthused about a liberal candidate than the rest of the nation didn't start in 2008. The 2004 exit poll found that in Alabama only 19 percent of whites voted for John Kerry and he earned just 24 percent of the white vote in Louisiana.)

The CBS Evening News also jumped on Carter's allegations. Katie Couric set up a full story:
The vitriol in the health care debate reached a new high when Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina accused President Obama of lying. Well, now former President Jimmy Carter is saying such attacks on the country's first African-American President are the result of racism.
My Tuesday NB post, with video, “ABC: Obama Critics 'Driven By Refusal to Accept Black President'; NBC Trumpets Carter's Racism Charges,” related:
“This morning in Atlanta, former President Carter spoke up and spoke out about what he has seen emerging in some of the public protests against President Obama,” Williams announced in touting his “exclusive” session with Carter: “During the interview, we talked about what some see as a heightened climate of racial and other hate speech since the election of President Obama. A certain number of signs and images at last weekend's big tea party march on Washington and at other recent events have featured racial and other violent themes and President Carter today said he is extremely worried by it.”
Brian Williams teased the Wednesday, September 16 NBC Nightly News:
On our broadcast tonight: Race Matters. After the outrage and the outburst directed at President Obama, tonight new fallout over what a former President told us last night, that some of it is just racism.
The lengthy lead story:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening, the White House today responded to the words of a former President and a son of the American south who says the current President, the first African-American in that job, is the target of blatant racism. Jimmy Carter made that charge in an interview we conducted with him in Atlanta yesterday and the conversation picked up speed and currency today against the backdrop of a severely partisan public debate. NBC's Andrea Mitchell starts us off tonight from our Washington news room. Andrea, good evening.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian. It is a debate as old as the nation, the racial divisions that many thought were healed by the election of the first African-American President. But now a former President has prompted us to re-examine our assumptions about race. In a season of angry protests, there are ugly signs that some of it is not rooted in bailout fatigue or suspicion of big government. Mixed in the anti-Obama crowds over recent weeks, racial slurs against the President of the United States.

[Signs in video: “Obamanomics: Monkey See, Monkey Spend!” and “Some Kenyan Tries to Destroy America? I Don't Think So!!! HOMEY DON'T PLAY DAT!!!”]

All that, plus an unprecedented interruption of the President's speech to Congress-

CONGRESSMAN JOE WILSON: You lie!

MITCHELL: -prompting Jimmy Carter's blunt comments first broadcast on Nightly News last night.

JIMMY CARTER: I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south, but around the country that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.

MITCHELL: Today, Carter's comments ignited a verbal fire storm. On talk radio: two nations. On one side, Rush Limbaugh and his followers.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Any criticism of an African-American President's policies or statements or mis-statements is racist and that's it. Therefore, the question, can this nation really have an African-American President?

MITCHELL: On the other side, callers to Al Sharpton's show.

FEMALE CALLER: The bottom line is, they fear Barack Obama as President of the United States. This intelligent black man can go and work towards a goal for everybody, so they're going to continue to do things to keep him at bay.

MITCHELL: And listen to Congressman James Clyburn on whether racism in politics is real.

CONGRESSMAN JAMES CLYBURN: I have, on occasion, been given added police protection for some of the threats that we get all by people who are, forsome reason, insulted by my skin color. I did not ask to come here as this color. The good lord made that decision for me.

MITCHELL: Today the President didn't hear, or ignored, a shouted question about what Jimmy Carter said. And even though Mr. Obama didn't start the debate, Republicans challenged him to put an end to it.

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Look, don't sit there and tell me now he needs to be excused from this debate when members of his party, the former President of the United States who's a member of his party, injects it voicefully and so forcibly into this debate.

MITCHELL: The White House does not want to talk about it, but in a 47 minute briefing, the President's press secretary was asked about race 18 times -- when you count follow up questions.

ROBERT GIBBS: The President does not believe that -- that criticism comes based on the color of his skin.

MITCHELL: So, is this debate healthy or will it only increase racial tensions? We asked Bill Cosby, who agrees with Jimmy Carter.

BILL COSBY: I don't think you can get people who are entrenched in their own hatred to stop. I think what we have to do is find the people who are willing to work together, the people who realize that mistakes will happen and we've got to work for the betterment of the American people.

MITCHELL: Is there evidence of hard core anti-Obama sentiment? Well, when you look at how people voted last fall by region, in the south ten percent of white voters in Alabama went for Obama, eleven percent of whites in Mississippi voted for him. In Louisiana, that number was fourteen percent. But the national number of white voters who went for Barack Obama was 43 percent. That said, the White House views this as an unwelcome distraction. They want to get back to talking about health care.
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