NYer Editor: Media In 2008 Correctly Taken With Idea Of Electing Black President

It's one thing for a so-called journalist to claim media members in 2008 were all taken with the historical notion of electing the country's first black President, but it's quite another to say they were right in doing so.

Despite the seeming absurdity, this is exactly what the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the New Yorker magazine told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz Sunday.

During the "Reliable Sources" interview of David Remnick, Kurtz noted that in his new biography about Barack Obama, Remnick wrote, "[D]uring the campaign...Obama received generally adoring press coverage."

After giving a few examples, Kurtz asked, "What came over the press in 2007 and 2008 when it came to Barack Obama?"

Readers are likely to find some of Remnick's answer quite disturbing (video follows with transcript and commentary): 

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: You write that during the campaign, which is sort of where your book ends, that Obama received generally adoring press coverage. And you had a couple examples I hadn't seen.

Meredith Vieira -- this is when she was on "The View" -- said he would be a huge force in this country for the better. And Barbara Walters compared him at one point to Nelson Mandela.

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR THE NEW YORKER: Yes.

KURTZ: What came over the press in 2007 and 2008 when it came to Barack Obama?

REMNICK: Well, first of all, he was new. We hadn't been over this story 700 times.

And let's face it, Barack Obama was a part of a narrative of the most painful and prolonged history that we have in our country, which is the epic story and extremely painful story of race in America. And the business of him being a serious candidate for the presidency, not just a symbolic run, not one that's doomed to failure, but one that could quite possibly reach the end and be elected president, well, I think we were all taken up with that, and I think legitimately so. I think the notion of an African-American running successfully for president --

So if Obama was a white junior senator from Illinois with the exact same credentials, speech patterns, and mannerisms, the media would have been LESS taken with him? And that's LEGITIMATE?

Even Kurtz seemed surprised with this: 

KURTZ: Legitimately so, except that you have another candidate for president. And a lot of people concluded, fairly or unfairly, that the media, or parts of the media, were in the tank for the Democratic candidate.

REMNICK: Well, I'm only responsible for "The New Yorker" and for myself, and I thought we were fair to Hillary Clinton and I think we were fair all around.

Were we taken up with the extra story of race? Absolutely. And I think we should have been.

Did Remnick understand what he was saying here? 

After all, it's one thing to ADMIT he and his fellow press members were in the tank for Obama because he was black. But to after the fact say they were right in doing so undermines ANY credibility for himself and his similarly guilty colleagues in the future?

Think about it: why should anyone trust his reporting on any subject if it can be impacted by the color of someone's skin?

That folks like Remnick don't understand the ramifications of this on themselves and their industry is almost as shocking as they're behavior in 2007 and 2008. 

Unfortunately, Kurtz didn't press him on this, and instead moved to another subject.

Too bad, for it would have been interesting if Remnick was forced to explain his position and answer how he could possibly be perceived as an impartial journalist ever again. 

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.