ABC Frets That NY Post Comic Could Harm 'Post-racial Glow' of Obama

"Good Morning America" reporter David Wright on Thursday worried that a comic strip appearing in yesterday's New York Post could harm the "post racial glow" that America has been enjoying since Barack Obama's inauguration. Wright recounted the outrage expressed by the Reverend Al Sharpton and others over an editorial cartoon depicting a chimp shot by police and connecting it to the just passed economic stimulus bill. (Host Diane Sawyer, above, introduced the segment.) 

Wright derided, "Ever since the inauguration, America has seemed to bask in a post-racial glow. But not so fast. Yesterday, the New York Post published a cartoon likening President Obama to a violent monkey shot by police." The GMA journalist chose to accept the most sinister view of the comic, that the dead ape was intended to represent the President. (Of course, since the comic refers to the chimpanzee as the writer of the stimulus bill and Obama didn't author the legislation, that argument doesn't seem to make the most sense.)

Wright featured no one who offered a different interpretation of the cartoon. He simply stated, "The paper refused to apologize for the cartoon, calling it a clear parody of a current news event." Instead, Wright used the controversy as an opportunity to uncritically repeat Attorney General Eric Holder's comments on Wednesday that America is a "nation of cowards." Wright lectured, "Despite evident progress on race, America still has a long way to go, according to the nation's first black attorney general who spoke yesterday at a separate black history month event."

The ABC correspondent also intoned, "It turns out the 2008 election didn't settle the race issue." He then featured a clip of Kevin Alexander Gray, a writer for the very left-wing Progressive. According to Gray, Obama may be the Tiger Woods of politics, "But he's not necessarily going to change the game."

How liberal is Gray? In the October 2008 issue, he contemplated voting for Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney over Barack Obama. Except for an onscreen graphic reading "writer, The Progressive," there was no hint of Gray's radical left views.

A transcript of the February 19 segment, which aired at 7:18am, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: Anyway, we turn now to the question of race and motive in America. This new political cartoon, sparking controversy this morning. Some people saying that it was a racist attack against the President. Others, just a miscalculation. What do you think? Here's ABC's David Wright.

ABC GRAPHIC: No Laughing Matter: Race in the Obama Era

DAVID WRIGHT: Black history month at the White House is not just a Hallmark holiday this year.

MICHELLE OBAMA [at the White House]: You're yawning. Wake up. I'm just kidding.

WRIGHT: For the first time, the first family is African-American. Ever since the inauguration, America has seemed to bask in a post-racial glow. But not so fast. Yesterday, the New York Post published a cartoon likening President Obama to a violent monkey shot by police.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON: This is a very serious affront. This is race-based. This is offensive.

WRIGHT: The paper refused to apologize for the cartoon, calling it a clear parody of a current news event. Despite evident progress on race, America still has a long way to go, according to the nation's first black attorney general who spoke yesterday at a separate black history month event.

ERIC HOLDER (U.S. attorney general): Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as a ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially, a nation of cowards.

WRIGHT: Conversation about race is edgier these days. This year, for the first time since Al Jolson, Hollywood felt it was safe to nominee a white actor in black face for an Oscar.

[Brief "Tropic Thunder" clip]

WRIGHT: It turns out the 2008 election didn't settle the race issue.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY (Writer, The Progressive): I always tell people that Obama is like the Tiger Woods of politics. He wants to wear the green jacket. But he's not necessarily going to change the game.

WRIGHT: Society's deepest divisions don't disappear overnight just because we've made a little progress. For "Good Morning America," David Wright, ABC News, Washington.

ROBERTS: Part of the reason we shied away from the conversation, people are afraid from being labeled a racist or playing the race card. But it's something we all have to move beyond.

SAWYER: Right. And just talk.

ROBERTS: Yes.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org