CNN Highlights Ephron's Racist/Sexist Theory About White Male Voters

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCNN's Carol Costello focused on Nora Ephron's Huffington Post rant against white male voters in Pennsylvania during a report on Tuesday's "The Situation Room." "Ephron uses provocative language to make a point. She says, 'let's not kid ourselves. Try as we might, white men will still decide who gets to be president.'" While Costello used results from previous primaries to cast doubt on Ephron's theory, she and CNN chose to highlight Ephron's words and found voters who apparently agreed with it.

Host Wolf Blitzer introduced the report, which aired at the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour, and described Ephron's "controversial opinions," as he put it, as "pretty intriguing stuff." After playing a clip from a Democratic debate that included the then-candidate John Edwards, Costello described Ephron as "[t]he woman famous for making movies like 'Sleepless in Seattle'" and excerpted some of the Huffington Post article. "Pennsylvania's primary is 'an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I mean white men.' In other words, if Hillary Clinton can win the white male vote in Pennsylvania, where white male politicians overwhelmingly hold office, she will win the primary, because, as Ephron puts it, 'she can attract more racist white male voters than Obama can.'"

Costello then played two sound bites of Pennsylvania white males who apparently agreed with Ephron.

COSTELLO: A number of voters we spoke with today buy Ephron's argument.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No question, absolutely. It will be the white men that determine who is going to be the president.

BEN WINTERS, VOTER: It's sort of a paradoxical result, considering this is the first time we have an opportunity to elect a woman or a African-American, that white men should sort of hold the power. That feels icky to say. But I guess it's true, technically. They will cast the deciding vote.

Both of the men interviewed agreed that the white male vote is going to be crucial, but it isn't clear from the sound bites if they agreed with the racist/sexist component of Ephron's theory.

Costello then highlighted the fact that "[i]f you look at how this year's primaries have been won, he who takes the white male vote rules. Clinton won Ohio, taking 58% of the white male vote. Obama won Wisconsin, taking 63% of the white male vote." But, as Costello pointed out, this detail "may not matter two hoots in a general election."

The report concluded with possible scenarios for Democratic victory in the fall election.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: No Democratic candidate for president since Lyndon Johnson has won the white vote. Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton, twice; have always lost the white vote. The trick for a Democratic candidate is to get enough of the white vote and an overwhelming black vote.

COSTELLO (on-camera): Or you could look at it this way -- the winning candidate will have to get enough of the white vote and an overwhelming female vote and that makes both Democratic candidates a possible winner in the general election. Nothing is easy to figure out in this election, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're right, Carol. Thank you.

Interestingly enough, Democratic strategist and CNN regular Paul Begala slammed Ephron's theory only a few minutes later on "The Situation Room" during a panel discussion.

BLITZER: Paul, what do you make of these exit poll numbers that we've just received? 92% of African-American voters going for Obama in Pennsylvania.

PAUL BEGALA: Right. And I think this is what -- I'm a huge Nora Ephron fan, I've never met her, but I love her movies, she's a great writer, but she's a pretty crummy political analyst, okay? 92% -- if Bill's exit polls are right, and who knows? But if that's true, they're voting for Barack Obama. They're not voting against Hillary Clinton. It's not to say that African-Americans are racist against white people. They have a terrific, remarkable candidate that they can be for. So it is with Hillary Clinton, particularly in the Democratic primary, right?. If this was -- if they were torn between their sexism and their racism, they'd stay home, because that's the only choice they got is the African-American or the woman. There's just nothing in the data that suggests, at least in the Democratic party, that this is hurting them. You know, more and more people are registering, more participating, which is good.

The full transcript of Carol Costello's segment from Tuesday's "The Situation Room:"

WOLF BLITZER: A female author has some controversial opinions on tonight's Pennsylvania primary -- Nora Ephron thinks the race will turn on white men, and whether they are racist or sexist. CNN's Carol Costello talked to her today. She's watching this story for us -- pretty intriguing stuff, Carol. What did she say?

CAROL COSTELLO: Well, to put it mildly, Wolf, Ephron uses provocative language to make a point. She says, 'let's not kid ourselves. Try as we might, white men will still decide who gets to be president.'

COSTELLO (voice-over): For some, Pennsylvania's primary will make one thing crystal clear, despite denials from Democrats, present and past --

JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ...And the only thing I would say, and I think it has nothing to do with race and gender. Let me be real clear about that. It's amazing now being the white male --

BARACK OBAMA: ...Feeling all defensive about it. John, it's all right, man.

(LAUGHS)

EDWARDS: ...is that this is different.

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterCOSTELLO: But Edwards was wrong according to Nora Ephron. The woman famous for making movies like 'Sleepless in Seattle' writes in 'The Huffington Post' -- Pennsylvania's primary is an election about 'whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I mean white men.' In other words, if Hillary Clinton can win the white male vote in Pennsylvania, where white male politicians overwhelmingly hold office, she will win the primary, because, as Ephron puts it, 'she can attract more racist white male voters than Obama can.' And she thinks that may persuade those undecided superdelegates that only Clinton can win in the general election against a white man, John McCain. A number of voters we spoke with today buy Ephron's argument.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No question, absolutely. It will be the white men that determine who is going to be the president.

BEN WINTERS, VOTER: It's sort of a paradoxical result, considering this is the first time we have an opportunity to elect a woman or a African-American, that white men should sort of hold the power. That feels icky to say. But I guess it's true, technically. They will cast the deciding vote.

COSTELLO: But is it true? If you look at how this year's primaries have been won, he who takes the white male vote rules. Clinton won Ohio, taking 58% of the white male vote. Obama won Wisconsin, taking 63% of the white male vote. But guess what? It may not matter two hoots in a general election.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: No Democratic candidate for president since Lyndon Johnson has won the white vote. Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton, twice; have always lost the white vote. The trick for a Democratic candidate is to get enough of the white vote and an overwhelming black vote.

COSTELLO (on-camera): Or you could look at it this way -- the winning candidate will have to get enough of the white vote and an overwhelming female vote and that makes both Democratic candidates a possible winner in the general election. Nothing is easy to figure out in this election, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're right, Carol. Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center