CNN's O'Brien Continues Challenging Attempt to Spin Away 'Chains' Controversy

Cable News Network host Soledad O'Brien has clashed often with conservative guests on her program, but on Thursday, she pressed the liberal chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus when he tried to dismiss Vice President Joe Biden's comment that Republicans wanted to "put y’all back in chains."

During that morning's edition of the Starting Point program, O'Brien showed a clip of Biden's remarks, from his campaign stop in Danville, Virginia, then asked Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) what he thought about his fellow Democrat's comments. The scandal-plagued congressman responded succinctly: “Absolutely nothing.”

“I would never have even paid attention to it but for the fact that campaigns nowadays are waiting for any kind of little nugget to try to create an atmosphere of more and more discord,” he added.

It makes absolutely no sense that some kind of a little throwaway line is now being used to make Vice President Biden appear to have been throwing out these words in order to somehow attract dumb African-Americans who if they hear the word “chains” are going to automatically vote for him and President Obama.

After stating that Cleaver was unfairly “extrapolating” with his “dumb African-American” description, the host made a fascinating comment:


You cannot tell me that if in fact we were talking about Mitt Romney saying a line like that…that people would not be going crazy and crying about race-baiting and talking about tone and tenor and coded language. I think we would, wouldn’t we?

Apparently caught off guard by O'Brien's question, Cleaver clumsily responded that he wasn’t sure about her assertion, and that any such remark would depend on the context.

I know Vice President Biden, and when you look at the video….there’s only a sprinkling of African-Americans there, clearly in the minority of that crowd.

O'Brien again turned up the heat on Cleaver by noting that press reports had indicated the crowd was about 50 percent black, much like the Danville community.

“Why would the vice president go into a setting like that where presumably half the people wouldn’t have any understanding or feelings about what was going on?” Cleaver asked.

The reality is that the discourse in our politics has become unsophisticated, unpolished, unnecessary, and rather than trying to raise the discord to some degree, both sides look for little things that would remove the discussion from the things that matter to something that’s completely asinine.

At that point, The Blaze’s Will Cain, a contributor to CNN, noted that it was hard to reconcile Cleaver‘s position that our national discourse has gotten out of hand while at the same time dismissing Biden’s controversial statement..

“I don‘t understand how you can say our national discourse is poor and then say that’s no big deal,” Cain asserted.

“I’ve been black all my life, so that comment I can tell you would have no impact on me,” Cleaver replied.

The Congressman then charged that “Mitt Romney wants to come in and give those guys carte blanche to do it again, and it would put you back in chains, you’d have another Wall Street collapse that would impact the nation and the world.”

“I'm not here to defend Vice President Biden,” he stated. “I don't even think that needs to be defended.”

“I know that that statement by the vice president had absolutely no impact,” Cleaver added. “There‘s not a single black person in this country who’s now going to say ‘by golly, I’ve got to vote for Obama and Biden because Biden said something about ‘puttin' y’all back in chains.'”

At the end of the interview, the Congressman said he thought Biden “veered from the teleprompter, as he is prone to do, and made comments that he thought might be cute.”

As NewsBusters previously reported, this wasn't O'Brien first clash over Biden's remarks. On Tuesday, she shot down the Obama campaign's ridiculous spin that the comment was not meant to be a reference to the enslavement of African-Americans in the past.

On Wednesday, the CNN anchor told The Hollywood Reporter that “I don't think I show bias in my TV show. … Am I a liberal or conservative? I'm neither.”

If O'Brien really wants to be unbiased, her interview on Thursday just might be a good first step toward that goal.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall