Covering 'Punjab-gate', Media Forget Hillary's 'Gandhi', Biden's 'Dunkin' Donut' Gaffes
As we've documented at NewsBusters, last year the media, particularly the Washington Post, raked then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) over the coals for his infamous "macaca" insult, and his ensuing profuse apologies for same. We've also documented that Democratic politicians' jokes about India and Indian-Americans have been largely ignored (see below the jump).
The latest racial incident kicking up dust on the 2008 campaign trail is yet another Democratic gaffe, dubbed by some, "Punjab-gate," after an Obama presidential campaign research memo cheekily described rival Hillary Clinton as a Democrat from Punjab, a province in India.
Of course, as the oppo memo itself notes, and as John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune reported in the Trib's "The Swamp" blog, Obama's staff were referring to another "lame attempt at humor" (my emphasis, see below jump) by the junior senator from the Empire State about her electoral chances were she to decide to relocate to India:
The (D-Punjab) reference had sought to make fun of a Clinton statement from last year when she had jokingly suggested that her strong ties to the Indian community would allow her to "certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily."
Copies of the documents were later obtained by Clinton’s campaign, which then provided them to the Tribune and other news organizations. Obama’s campaign has confirmed their authenticity.
One of the documents included the claim that former President Bill Clinton had accepted $300,000 in speaking fees from Cisco Systems, a company the Illinois Democrat's campaign said has moved American jobs to India.
Of course, you won't find that dollar figure nor Hillary's original joke reported in today's Washington Post (page A7 by Ann Kornblut), nor today's print edition of the New York Times (a brief paragraph on page A17 by reporter Jeff Zeleny).
It's may be noteworthy that the liberal WaPo and liberal NYT could be considered Clinton's "hometown" papers, while the liberal Tribune is in Obama's political backyard. Even so, it was the conservative-leaning Washington Times that gave the story the most prominent play today, running staffer Christina Bellantoni's coverage of "Punjab-gate" on page A1 of the June 19 paper.
Even so, none of the aforementioned papers mentioned some previous Democratic dustups with the Indian-American community, nor noted a marked difference in press coverage between said dustups and George Allen's perceived racial slur against an Indian-American supporter of now-Sen. James Webb (D-Va.)
In January 2004, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) threw out a stereotype about Indian-Americans owning gasoline stations, invoking a revered Indian nationalist in same joke. She quickly apologized:
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for joking that Mahatma Gandhi used to run a gas station in St. Louis, saying it was "a lame attempt at humor."
The New York Democrat made the remark at a fund-raiser Saturday. During an event here for Senate candidate Nancy Farmer, Clinton introduced a quote from Gandhi by saying, "He ran a gas station down in St. Louis."
Last year, NB's own Noel Sheppard noticed a lack of media outrage over another lame joke by another Democratic senator running for president in 2008, Joe Biden (D-Del.):
In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.