PBS’s Judy Woodruff to Harry Reid: Why No Black Democrats In The Senate?

Judy Woodruff sat down for a cordial conversation with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour, and the veteran anchor was not afraid to play up partisan and racial politics. For her final question, Woodruff asked Reid for his reaction to President Obama’s remarks last week on the Trayvon Martin saga and the plight of black men in America, but she added a second part to the question.

“[W]hat does it say that there’s not a single African-American Democratic member of the U.S. Senate?” Woodruff wondered.


An interesting question. Is Woodruff suggesting that the Democratic party is racist? It’s hard to imagine that she would make such an inference. Does she think the lack of African-American Democrats in the Senate is a sign of the discrimination that black men face? President Obama’s speech was about real forms of racial prejudice: people locking their car doors when they see a black man coming or following a black man in a store. The failure to elect African American Democrats to the Senate is not nearly as discriminatory.

Regardless of the purpose behind Woodruff’s question, why did she ignore Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina? Scott is the lone African-American in the Senate right now. Are black Democrats somehow more significant than black Republicans?

Sen. Reid, for his part, failed to answer Woodruff’s question directly. He confidently offered a reassurance: “Well, just hold your breath; Cory Booker’s on his way from New Jersey. That’ll happen in October.”

As to the president’s comments on race, Reid quoted from PBS’s resident faux-conservative, David Brooks:
 

"And I agree with David Brooks, the Republican columnist for The New York Times. And I’m paraphrasing, but not very much. He said it was one of the most remarkable presentations he’s ever seen and thought it was one of the highlights of the president’s presidency."
 

At first glance, it might seem incredible that the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate would agree with a Republican columnist. But considering what type of “Republican” David Brooks is – one who has fawned over Obama and attacked Republicans many times in the past – it’s simply predictable that he would share an opinion with Harry Reid.

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, picking up on one thing you just said, the president made remarks last week in connection with the Trayvon Martin case about how African-Americans are perceived in this country. What did you think about what he said and what does it say that there’s not a single African-American Democratic member of the U.S. Senate?

HARRY REID: Well, just hold your breath; Cory Booker’s on his way from New Jersey. That’ll happen in October. The president made his remarks extemporaneously. Only he could do-- say what he did. And I agree with David Brooks, the Republican columnist for The New York Times. And I’m paraphrasing, but not very much. He said it was one of the most remarkable presentations he’s ever seen and thought it was one of the highlights of the president’s presidency. So I agree with him. I think this was really remarkable that he had the courage to come out and talk about what is going on in America. And he had some ability to relate to that as an individual.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.