Were they commenting on the same speech? Rev. Jeremiah Wright goes before the Detroit NAACP, claims that black and white children learn with different parts of their brain, and offers a simpering, unflattering imitation of the way white pastors speak. CNN's Soledad O'Brien gushes that the speech was a "home run" and "really funny." But over at Morning Joe, Wright's words prompted a panel member to rip the reverend as a "mediocrity" and a "buffoon."
Soledad O'Brien was in the hall when Wright spoke. She reported on the speech at the top of CNN's 6 AM ET hour.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The whole thing, frankly, was really funny. I think a lot of people have seen Rev. Wright defined as controversial, defined as angry, defined as anti-American: not in that speech. Not in that speech at all. He was funny, he was witty. This is a guy who's got two masters and his doctorate in divinity. Here is a guy who speaks five languages, they took pains in his introduction to point out all his accomplishments.
This week's Fox News Watch was a mix of the candid, the intriguing and the downright comical. Let's start with the humor. Well-intentioned liberal panel member Jane Hall, wringing her hands over the fact that the Wright matter has injected race into the campaign, got off this bit of unintentional comedy.
JANE HALL: Unfortunately, this is going to be what's going to be associated [with Obama]. I mean, it's like Willie Horton, except that Obama knew Reverend Wright,* and on Fox and other networks he is visually linked, it gives one more excuse to run this incendiary footage. I really regret that race, which Obama tried to transcend, is now going to become a very ugly subject in this race.
So it's unfair to pin this Wright stuff on Obama, except for the fact that, well, it's . . . fair. Moreover, whose fault is it that race has been injected into the race? If Obama were really the kind of person to transcend race, he wouldn't have been hanging around with Rev. Wright for 20 years.
Friday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC gave attention to revelations which first surfaced last February that employees of some Planned Parenthood clinics expressed a willingness to accept donations from callers who expressed the blatantly racist motivation of wanting to see more black children aborted, with a couple of the Planned Parenthood employees even seeming to express agreement with the racist statements. O'Reilly interviewed conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham about the attention she has given to the issue on her show, and played a clip of one of the phone calls. (Transcript follows)
In February, a conservative student publication at UCLA, The Advocate, revealed that it had called a number of Planned Parenthood clinics pretending to be interested in donating money to the organization while feigning a racist intention of wanting to reduce the number of black children. O'Reilly played one clip:
AUDIO OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE DONOR: Hello, Autumn. I'm interested in making a donation today.
AUDIO OF FEMALE PLANNED PARENTHOOD EMPLOYEE: Fantastic!
DONOR: I want to specify that abortion to help a minority group. Would that be possible?
Interviewed by Bill Moyers for a PBS show to be aired on the night of April 25, 2008, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. accused people of trying to paint him as "un-American" or "some sort of fanatic" for purposes of harming the candidacy of Barack Obama. (AP Photo/PBS, Robin Holland, HO)
In an attempt to rehabilitate Jeremiah Wright and, by extension, Senator Barack Obama's connection to the man, Friday's "Good Morning America" featured two segments on the "soft-spoken," patriotic pastor, a man who urged God to damn America. Reporter David Wright, a well-known Obama partisan, described an appearance Pastor Wright made with liberal PBS journalist Bill Moyers. Wright cooed, "But the soft-spoken man who sits down with Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those sound bites."
During his segment, the ABC reporter seemed to accept Reverend Wright's contention that he had been smeared by the media. Journalist Wright, no relation to the pastor, asserted, "In the interview, Pastor Wright expresses his horror that the media has made him a bogeyman." As though he were a PR representative, (reporter) Wrightmentioned the reverend's military service and spun, "There's plenty in Wright's background that speaks to his patriotism." He argued that some of the pastor's comments were taken out of context, citing the background of Wright's "chickens are coming home to roost" remark. However, the ABC journalist skipped over the incendiary preacher's contention that "the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Was that "soft spoken" falsehood taken "out of context?"
It is NBC Green Week, after all, so who can blame Andrea Mitchell for recycling two dilapidated defenses of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright?
Mitchell's heart didn't seem wholly in it, but like a burned-out public defender going through the motions, Andrea apparently felt constrained to mount some kind of defense of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's controversial remarks. And so she trotted out two hoary chestnuts:
that's the way it's done in African-American churches, and
Voting for someone based on qualifications or ideology rather than race is very "white" according to "View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg. Also, according to Joy Behar, only white males like tax cuts.
Discussing Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s concern that women are voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman and black voting for Barack Obama because he’s black, Whoopi Goldberg dismissed Hasselbeck’s concerns and proclaimed "that’s a very white way to look at it." Of course Whoopi said it "with a huge amount of love." Hasselbeck sarcastically responded "let me take off my white goggles." Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg agreed Hasselbeck can not suggesting the white people will never understand.
Earlier in the discussion, Behar added that voting for someone with the same gender or race may be in a person’s interest. She hypothesized that a woman over 50 who may face age discrimination may vote for Hillary as a way to combat that. She also suggested that white men vote Republican because "the white male loves his tax cuts." In Behar’s world, only white men like tax cuts.
New York Times reporter Michael Luo wrung his hands Thursday about a potentially racially divisive ad from the North Carolina Republican party that linked two Democrats running for governor to Sen. Barack Obama and his hate-mongering former pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Despite objections from Senator John McCain, the North Carolina Republican Party is planning to roll out a television advertisement on Monday attacking two Democrats who are running for governor by linking them to Senator Barack Obama and playing a clip of his former pastor excoriating the United States.
The release of the commercial, which Republican officials in North Carolina said would make its debut during the 6 p.m. newscasts, injects a potentially divisive racial element into the campaign for the state's Democratic presidential primary, which is on May 6.
That's the second time in two days the paper has described the ad as racially divisive. On Wednesday, Patrick Healy wrote:
In Chris Matthews's mind, a bigot is someone who's "culturally conservative" on race. Matthews equated the two on this evening's Hardball in attempting to explain exit polling from yesterday's PA primary showing that 38% of white Catholic Democrats wouldn't vote for Obama in the general election.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, somebody who doesn't like that group of voters might call them Archie Bunkers. I'll call them Reagan Democrats, John [Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News], they're Reagan Democrats: people who are culturally conservative, maybe a little culturally conservative on the racial front, on the ethnic front. They like to think of themselves as Democrats on the economic issues, but when it comes to the squeeze, on some of these cultural issues--didn't this all come up earlier about three weeks ago in San Francisco, this conversation.
During MSNBC's live coverage of Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary, co-anchor Chris Matthews brought up the possibility that the North Carolina Republican Party would run an "overtly racist" campaign against Barack Obama, as the MSNBC host harkened back to the days of Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt. Matthews: "North Carolina will be interesting, and I think that if the Republican Party goes back to the old trick it did with the days of Jesse Helms and Harvey Gantt and running a campaign which is overtly racist, I think that will be a mistake if they do that. I'll wait and see if they do that." (Transcript follows)
After referring to Obama's relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, co-anchor Keith Olbermann brought up the possibility that John McCain could also be attacked for connections with controversial people: "There is a lot that could be thrown at the Republicans by the Democrats and the past associations of Senator McCain, or even some of the current ones."
CNN'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.
In early April, Times Executive Editor Bill Keller (photo courtesy of the New York Times) discussed his recent book "The Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela," a children's book on the life of the South African leader Nelson, on the Times' "Ask A Reporter" site.
The project is aimed at schoolchildren, who submit questions to selected Times reporters about the job of reporting. The reporters generally respond with bland, follow-your-dreams stuff to the audience of aspiring journalists or curious students, but Keller's response to one student's question might raise some eyebrows.
A New York City 12th grader asked Keller:
"What do you think of the analogy between apartheid South Africa and Israel-Palestine? I remember hearing about a lot of controversy last year regarding Jimmy Carter's book, 'Peace Not Apartheid.'"
Keller responded in a post dated April 4 by saying that one has to be careful with analogies, but also suggested that that one had some validity:
On his April 8 "Countdown," host Keith Olbermann smeared Iraq war veteran David Bellavia as a racist:
OLBERMANN, from the April 8 "Countdown" opening credits: Nothing obscure about this: Racism as a Republican campaign plank. Sen. McCain introduced at a rally on Capitol Hill."
BELLAVIA, introducing then hugging McCain: You can have your Tiger Woods. We've got Sen. McCain.
OLBERMANN: Did he actually just say that? And why did McCain then embrace him?
Bellavia is running as a Republican for Congress in upstate New York and is pitted against another Iraq veteran, Democratic nominee Jon Powers, in that contest. Olbermann turned to liberal professor Michael Eric Dyson to sanction Olbermann's specious charge that the McCain campaign is racist:
"The View" co-hosts will go so far to defend Reverend Jeremiah Wright and by extension Barack Obama, that they will even throw Martin Luther King Jr. under the bus. Discussing Wright again on the April 7 edition, the ladies justified Wright’s words by noting some very controversial remarks by the late Dr. King. Sherri Shepherd, apparently taking Michael Eric Dyson’s cue, quoted King predicting America "will put black people in a concentration camp." Joy Behar, in a hopeful tone, added "Maybe someday Reverend Wright’s words will be taken out of- in a different context. It’s possible."
Whoopi Goldberg also justified Wright’s extreme sermons, opining he is bringing his anger from a different era. Elisabeth Hasselbeck wondered what happened to "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Whoopi Goldberg again justified Wright’s anger.
ABC has served warning: use the Rev. Wright against Barack Obama at your peril. Be prepared to be accused of "raising the race issue" to hit "below the belt."
ABC's David Wright, a certified Obama fan/Hillary critic based on this past performance, issued his edict on today's Good Morning America.
Riffing off Hillary having compared herself to Rocky Balboa running all the way up those steps in the first movie, Wright first fairly pointed out the irony of the analogy: Rocky wound up losing the fight. Pushing the boxing metaphor, Wright then landed his haymaker:
DAVID WRIGHT: In its approach to superdelegates, the Clinton campaign may be close to hitting below the belt. Clinton's top delegate hunter Harold Ickes told an interviewer he's raising the race issue with superdelegates, arguing that Obama's controversial former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, makes him unelectable.
New York Times reporter Katie Thomas embraced radical chic near the end of her front-page story Tuesday on the prospect for political protests at the 2008 Olympics, hosted by China.
Perhaps the best-known examples are the American sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who at the 1968 Games in Mexico City raised their clenched fists on the medal podium during the playing of the national anthem in a salute to black power. The action enraged the Olympic organizers, and Mr. Carlos and Mr. Smith were soon ushered out of the country. Now, 40 years later, their action is celebrated as heroic.
Raising a "Black Power" fist in defiance of the national anthem qualifies as heroic in the mind of the Times?
Radical Pan-African activist Stokely Carmichael, who coined the phrase, said of his movement:
When you talk of black power, you talk of building a movement that will smash everything Western civilization has created.
Just when you thought the conflagration over James Carville's Judas analogy might be dying down, here comes Derrick Z. Jackson to pour gasoline on the flames with a return-fire Judas shot of his own.
Readers will recall that when Bill Richardson endorsed Obama, Clinton fan Carville chose Good Friday to say:
Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.
Offered the chance to apologize or withdraw his remarks, the cantankerous Cajun declined, choosing instead to rub in his remarks:
I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it. I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.
Enter Obama fan Jackson with his column of today, On race, Clinton misses the call, in which the Boston Glober sees "signs that [Hillary] will continue to skate the thin ice of race politics and risk the Democratic Party falling through." He saves his Judas shot for last [emphasis added]:
"The View’s" Joy Behar is so partisan as to spin an ethnic slur from Barack Obama’s pastor into a compliment. Discussing Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s "garlic nosed Italians" comments on the March 28 edition, Behar noted "he’s talking about the ancient Romans here," (apparently Reverend Wright did not know that Italy did not exist as a country until 1861) and claimed "the Roman nose has been celebrated in art and history...I don’t think it’s insulting." She also added that garlic in her diet helps with her "gorgeous complexion."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck compared it to the use of the nose as an anti-Semitic stereotype. Behar disagreed asserting "the Roman nose hasn’t been used against Italians the way the Jewish stereotype of a hook nose has been used against the Jews."
Also of note in the segment, Whoopi Goldberg compared Obama’s pastor problem to John F. Kennedy’s challenge to run for president as a Catholic. Barbara Walters immediately responded that the comparison was not valid.
I count Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace among the fairest and most incisive interviewers in the business, and hope his tenure at Fox News is a long one. Anyone who can relentlessly cross-exam Mitt Romney on his changed position on abortion the way Wallace did a while back, then turn around and have Bill Clinton near the point of taking a poke at him, is doing his job and playing no favorites. But should Wallace ever wish a change of venue, never fear: MSNBC apparently can find a place for him.
Wallace made some news when, appearing on this past Friday's Fox & Friends, he criticized the hosts for dwelling longer than Chris thought appropriate on Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person."
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews devoted a segment to the exchange. Eugene Robinson, the affable WaPo columnist and MSNBC political analyst, suggested that refuge awaited Wallace should he need it.
The New York Times continues to glorify Barack Obama for the speech he delivered on race, eager to help Obama not only move on from Wright, but to paint the whole affair in lambent tones, while suggesting GOP presidents including Reagan went "under cover" and used code words to promote racial strife and win elections.
The latest brushwork is on display on the front page of the Times's Sunday Week in Review, a story by Janny Scott, "Talk About Race."
It would be enough to make Rev. Jeremiah Wright's accusation that the government created AIDS for purposes of perpetrating a black genocide sound almost rational. OK, scratch that. Nothing will render reasonable that morsel of moonbattery. But has the Rev. Wright's replacement suggested that NPR is . . . a Republican front operation?
As per this Fox News article, the theme of today's Easter sermon at the Trinity United Church of Christ was “How to Handle a Public Lynching,” the victim in question being the Rev. Wright. The controversial pastor's successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, lit into the national media, coming up with a string of plays on their names to express his contempt:
Roger Cohen's column for the New York Times's international edition, "Beyond America's Original Sin," is the 1# read Times story at nytimes.com as of Friday morning, and it's no wonder -- Cohen basically endorses Barack Obama (not in so many words, as that would be a violation of finicky Times's regulations against columnists endorsing candidates).
The column itself is, frankly, embarrassing -- part Cohen apology for being born in apartheid South Africa, mostly Obama hagiography over his recent race speech that even appropriates the "Yes We Can" call-and-response slogan beloved of his more fervent supporters.
It takes bravery, and perhaps an unusual black-white vantage point, to navigate these places where hurt is profound, incomprehension the rule, just as it takes courage to say, as Obama did, that black "anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races."
It wasn't quite a "thrill up up my leg" moment, but Chris Matthews clearly hasn't gotten over his love affair with the candidacy of Barack Obama. It was a discussion of NM Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama on today's Morning Joe that inspired an outpouring of emotion in which among other things Matthews acknowledged Obama "gets to me."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think [Richardson's] a gutsy guy, his own man, and I think it's a powerful endorsement. It certainly would have been powerful if it had gone the other way to Senator Clinton. I think it'll be a prized endorsement for Senator Obama, especially coming from a, he also comes from an interesting background. He always says, he says, you know, I've got a, what does he say? I've got an English name, I've got a Mexican mother, and I look like an Indian. I mean, he's, he's always had an interesting --
Time editor Rick Stengel made his regular Thursday Morning Joe appearance today, revealing the magazine's cover to be published tomorrow. But while we learned that the Dalai Lama's photo will appear there, the bigger story is the "cover" Time is trying to provide for Barack Obama's Rev. Wright problem.
Here's the gist of Time's defense of Obama, a distillation of Stengel's statements and Time articles by Amy Sullivan and Joe Klein:
An important aspect of the problem is that white Americans are incredibly ignorant about black churches in America.
In fact, Rev. Wright's church isn't that radical as black churches go.
It was understandable for Obama to have joined Wright's church. At the time he was a 27-year old bi-racial man trying to figure out his identity as the son of an atheist father and skeptic mother and needed a church "he could learn from."
It's understandable that Obama didn't leave the church: it's like reading a book--you don't necessarily agree with the author.
Obama's speech was a "triumph," and Americans will be thinking "small" if they make the Wright thing a big issue in the campaign.
Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" devoted four segments to Obama’s speech on race and the Jeremiah Wright controversy and that coverage began with a proclamation by co-host Maggie Rodriguez that: "It's being called a defining cultural moment in America. Barack Obama speaks about America's racial stalemate, a moving moment, a political risk." Rodriguez went on to tease upcoming coverage of the speech by again emphasizing its "historic" nature: "It was without question a defining moment in American political history. But for an African-American presidential candidate who'd played down race in his campaign, this was a huge gamble politically."
The first of the show’s four segments featured a report by correspondent Byron Pitts, who observed: "If critics hoped Senator Barack Obama would disown his controversial pastor, they were disappointed." After speaking of Obama’s "disappointed critics," Pitts went on to praise Obama’s unifying message and give some political advice:
But beyond condemning his minister's words, Obama tried bridging the racial divide, acknowledging years of bitterness and anger amongst blacks and whites...While Obama invoked the tone of a preacher, it was a politician speaking. With a slip in the polls, the Illinois Senator needs to take the nation's attention off race and back on jobs, health care, and the war in Iraq.
Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech Tuesday was a transparent attempt to quell the controversy over his ties to fiery anti-American minister Jeremiah Wright. But the New York Times, along with the rest of the media, portrayed the speech just the way the Obama camp would have wanted -- as a transcendent address on race in America, past, present and future, with Obama's long connection to Wright a secondary matter.
It was an extraordinary moment -- the first black candidate with a good chance at becoming a presidential nominee, in a country in which racial distrust runs deep and often unspoken, embarking at a critical juncture in his campaign upon what may be the most significant public discussion of race in decades.
There's a new entry next to Mika Brzezinski's name in the annals of MSM elitism. The Morning Joe panelist today lamented blue-collar whites who "can't hear" the message Barack Obama propounded. Poor benighted souls. Joe Scarborough called Mika on it.
Brzezinski's comment came in response to Scarborough's exposition of why he didn't think Obama's speech would work with many blue-collar whites.
Playing the moral equivalence card in his speech this morning, Barack Obama said this:
I can no more disown [Rev. Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Which sent me scurrying to Google for the quote I was sure I remembered. And sure enough:
There is nothing more painful to me ... than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. -- the Reverend Jesse Jackson, as quoted in US News, 3/10/96
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. -- Barack Obama, Huffington Post, March 14, 2008
The key question before Barack Obama today was the one going to his integrity: was he was telling the truth when he claimed in his HuffPo piece of March 14th that he never heard Wright make, in public or private, the remarks "that are the cause of this controversy"?
During the roundtable segment on Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty compared the racist and anti-American words of Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, to Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's condemnation of the many abortions in America. Cafferty, who in January suggested that abortion is a "crap" issue, asserted: "How is this different than John McCain chasing after Pat Robertson or the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, who talk about how we have a culture of murdering unborn children in this country and that we've turned into Sodom because we coddled the gay community in this country? I mean, to me, that stuff is considerably more offensive than decrying racial violence and intolerance in this country, which members of the black community have some firsthand knowledge of." (Transcript follows)