Jimmy Carter Tries to Deny He Said Obama Critics 'Driven' By Race

CNN’s Candy Crowley tried to prompt former President Jimmy Carter to explain his charge of racism against opponents of President Obama on Thursday’s American Morning, but the Democrat tried to worm his way out of what he said. Crowley paraphrased, “You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president,” to which Carter replied, “That’s not what I said” [audio clips from the interview are available here].

The topic of the former president’s inflammatory accusation came midway through the CNN correspondent’s live interview during the 8 am Eastern hour. Crowley had first asked Carter about the revamp of his presidential museum and library. Before turning to the Obama/race issue, she also prompted Mrs. Carter, who was also present, to comment on the future of mental health care.

Carter was clearly defensive about his allegation when Crowley brought it up. The correspondent put her question this way: “Mr. President, let me ask you first- domestically, you made some remarks recently about how you felt about the protesters that were protesting against President Obama. You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president, that there was racism involved.” The former president interrupted, “By the way, that’s not what I said.”

The Democrat continued that “I said, those on the fringe element that had vituperative personal attacks on President Obama- those were the ones that I included.” Crowley attempted to read her paraphrase again, but Carter shot back, “No, it wasn’t. If you read the remarks carefully, you’ll see that’s not what I said. I said those that had a personal vituperative attack [sic] on- on President Obama as a person- that was tinged with racism, but I recognize that people who disagree with him on health care or the environment, things like that- the vast majority of those are not tinged by racism.”

That’s not what you said the first time around, Mr. Carter. MRC’s Brent Baker transcribed the key portion from the interview in question from NBC Nightly News on September 15:
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. I live in the south and I’ve seen the south come a long way and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the south's attitude toward minority groups, at that time particularly African-Americans, that that racism [unintelligible word] still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of 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. It's an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.

Crowley replied to Carter’s version of what he said, “So you think they were taken out of context. You didn’t mean that most of those protesters out there were racist.” Carter answered, “I meant exactly what I said. That I actually said, if you look at the transcript, is just what I just repeated to you.”

Well, the transcript is above for all to see. Carter might be confusing his comments to NBC with what he said at Emory University on September 17: “When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds.” Crowley moved on to the subject of Iran after Carter’s remark about the transcript, so she didn’t press the matter further.

Walter Williams rebuked Carter and those who agreed with his race charge in his September 30 column for the Investor’s Business Daily:

“Obama’s presidency is truly a remarkable commentary on...how far we’ve come in resolving matters of race....For the nation as a whole, he managed to win 53% of the popular vote and 365 of Electoral College votes when he only needed 270 to win. So now Carter...and other race-carders want us to believe that the massive discontent with Obama is racism. I say nonsense!...Americans should disavow and not fall prey to the racial rope-a-dope being played on us by the nation’s race hustlers.”

The transcript of the relevant portion of Crowley’s interview of Carter, which began 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Thursday’s American Morning:

Candy Crowley, CNN Correspondent; Jimmy Carter, Former President; & Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady | NewsBusters.orgCROWLEY: Mr. President, let me ask you first- domestically, you made some remarks recently about how you felt about the protesters that were protesting against President Obama. You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president, that there was racism involved. You said that many people-

J. CARTER: By the way, that’s not what I said.

CROWLEY: Okay.

J. CARTER: I said, those on the fringe element that had vituperative personal attacks on President Obama- those were the ones that I included, but I recognized-

CROWLEY: I think your first remarks were that overall-

J. CARTER: No, it wasn’t. If you read the remarks carefully, you’ll see that’s not what I said. I said those that had a personal vituperative attack [sic] on- on President Obama as a person- that was tinged with racism, but I recognize that people who disagree with him on health care or the environment, things like that- the vast majority of those are not tinged by racism.

CROWLEY: So you think they were taken out of context. You didn’t mean that most of those protesters out there were racist-

J. CARTER: I meant exactly what I said. That I actually said, if you look at the transcript, is just what I just repeated to you.

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