CBS And NBC Tout Continued Relevance of NAACP

NAACP Protest, CBS Marking the 100th anniversary of the NAACP on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Bill Whitaker wondered: "A black president who addresses black issues unflinchingly...Attorney General Eric Holder dedicated to equal justice...some say begs the question, is the NAACP needed anymore? Is it even relevant? Is it time for the venerable organization to say ‘mission accomplished’?"

Later in the segment, Whitaker answered that question: "[Current NAACP President Benjamin Todd] Jealous and [former NAACP President Julian] Bond say with one of fifteen black males behind bars, with black students in inferior schools, with almost half of black homeowners in subprime mortgages...there’s plenty of work to do."

On NBC’s Nightly News on Wednesday, correspondent Ron Allen similarly questioned the NAACP’s relevance: "With an African-American in the White House and many discrimination battles won, the question is whether the NAACP is still necessary." Allen, like Whitaker, cited the organization’s leadership: "Jealous says the battle now is to close the social and economic achievement gap between people of color and mainstream America...A fight for justice and equality he insists must be carried on."

Neither Whitaker nor Allen applied a liberal political to the NAACP or featured any critics of the organization’s left-wing causes.

The CBS segment did offer some criticism of the organization when Whitaker cited Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, who challenged its necessity: "I ask myself the question if – if the NAACP disappeared, would – would anybody notice? And I had to say I don’t think they would...Their agenda is – is complete. It’s accomplished. They – they actually did it by the end of the sixties. The – the – the troubles afflicting black America, colored people, have more to do with poverty and economics than with discrimination. May I remind everybody, that we’ve got an African-American President now?"

At the same time, Whitaker went on to further cite Jealous, who claimed: "This country needs the – the NAACP because when we lift up even one community, we ultimately improve the way that all people in this country are treated...While we were the children of the dream, we had come of age just in time to find ourselves the most murdered generation in this country and the most incarcerated generation on the planet."

In the NBC report, Allen featured another quote from Jealous: "We fight for good schools. We fight for good jobs. We fight for safe communities for everybody. We've outlawed racial profiling and the death penalty in New Mexico. We are working for major reforms in the criminal justice system in Kansas and California."

Near the end of the CBS story, Whitaker included one final statement from Jealous, who exclaimed: "I think it’s hard sometimes for people to – who remember when there was a big iconic enemy like Jim Crow. That icon has broken into a whole bunch of different villains, predatory lending, over-incarceration, schools that are falling apart."

Here is a transcript of the relevant portion of the CBS report:

9:35AM SEGMENT:

WHITAKER: Change unimaginable one hundred years ago, a black President who addresses black issues unflinchingly.

OBAMA: Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.

WHITAKER: And Attorney General Eric Holder dedicated to equal justice.

ERIC HOLDER: In racial terms, the country that existed before the Civil Rights Movement is almost unrecognizable to us today.

WHITAKER: Which some say begs the question, is the NAACP needed anymore? Is it even relevant? Is it time for the venerable organization to say ‘mission accomplished’?

CLARENCE PAGE: I ask myself the question if – if the NAACP disappeared, would – would anybody notice? And I had to say I don’t think they would.

WHITAKER: Clarence Page is a Washington-based syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

PAGE: Their agenda is – is complete. It’s accomplished. They – they actually did it by the end of the sixties. The – the – the troubles afflicting black America, colored people, have more to do with poverty and economics than with discrimination. May I remind everybody, that we’ve got an African-American President now?

BOND: Well, remember, we are not the ‘national association for the advancement of one colored person.’ We’re the NACCP, ‘association for the advancement of colored people.’

WHITAKER: Julian Bond.

BOND: We crossed a barrier. We haven’t crossed the finish line.

BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS: This country needs the – the NAACP because when we lift up even one community, we ultimately improve the way that all people in this country are treated.

WHITAKER: Benjamin Todd Jealous is the next generation, the new thirty-five-year-old president of the Century-Old Organization.

JEALOUS: While we were the children of the dream, we had come of age just in time to find ourselves the most murdered generation in this country and the most incarcerated generation on the planet.

WHITAKER: Jealous and Bond say with one of fifteen black males behind bars, with black students in inferior schools, with almost half of black homeowners in subprime mortgages-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN D: NAACP, national headquarters.

WHITAKER: -there’s plenty of work to do.

BOND: We have sued some of the nation’s leading mortgage companies, charging that they targeted racial minorities for these subprime loans that they knew the people couldn’t pay back and they did it deliberately.

JEALOUS: I think it’s hard sometimes for people to – who remember when there was a big iconic enemy like Jim Crow. That icon has broken into a whole bunch of different villains, predatory lending, over-incarceration, schools that are falling apart.

WHITAKER: The NAACP says its goal is to one day work itself out of business.

BOND: We like to hope that the day will come when we can look around and say that the gaps between blacks and whites in this country are vanished and disappeared. And, if it takes a hundred years more, we’re going to keep trying.

GROUP [Singing]: Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear-

Here is a full transcript of the NBC story:

7:00PM SEGMENT:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The NAACP is celebrating its 100th anniversary. And when you think about our present era, just the first two stories in our broadcast tonight, after all, about the first African-American president and his nomination of the first Latina justice to the Supreme Court, then you understand why some folks are asking some hard questions about the relevance of an organization for, quote, "the advancement of colored people." But the answer isn't just that simple. And our own Ron Allen is covering tonight.

RON ALLEN: As the NAACP celebrates 100, its new, young leader takes center stage.

BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS: Good morning, my name is Benjamin Todd Jealous.

ALLEN: Ben Jealous is 36, just the 17th president to lead this organization steeped in history and tradition. Why did you want to lead this organization?

JEALOUS: My family has belonged to this organization for five generations, and I have a lot of opinions about how to run the place better.

ALLEN: Jealous is the biracial son of a white father and black mother. An Ivy League grad, a Rhodes scholar, a former head of a black newspaper association who later led a human rights foundation, and now is trying to win the NAACP’s trust.

RON WALTERS [PROFESSOR EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND]: He hasn't been in sort of the traditional mold of African-American civil rights leadership. And to that extent there are people who don't know who he is.

ALLEN: However, Jealous’ age is one reason he was chosen to re-brand and reinvigorate an organization that first met here in this great hall in New York City a century ago. A proud history but an uncertain future.

BARACK OBAMA: And I will execute-

ALLEN: With an African-American in the White House and many discrimination battles won, the question is whether the NAACP is still necessary.

JEALOUS: We fight for good schools. We fight for good jobs. We fight for safe communities for everybody. We've outlawed racial profiling and the death penalty in New Mexico. We are working for major reforms in the criminal justice system in Kansas and California.

ALLEN: He has tried to do that by recruiting young activists. More than half a million people belong, most over 50 years old. But the fastest growing groups is under 25.

STEPHANIE BROWN: I first don't approach them with, ‘Hey, join the NAACP.’ I talk about issues going on in their communities, how do they feel, do they want to do something about it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Our organization is changing because we don't have – we’re not fighting the same battles that my great-grandfather fought.

ALLEN: Jealous says the battle now is to close the social and economic achievement gap between people of color and mainstream America.

JEALOUS: We’ve come 100 years on this good road and we ain't turning back now, y’all. Thank you and God bless.

ALLEN: A fight for justice and equality he insists must be carried on. Ron Allen, NBC News, New York.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC