July 14th, 2008
03:01 PM ET
10 years ago

McLaughlin takes heat for 'Oreo' comment

John McLaughlin's comments have caused controversy.

John McLaughlin's comments have caused controversy.

(CNN) - Longtime Washington talk-show host John McLaughlin is facing fire Monday for referring to Barack Obama as an "Oreo" during a segment on his Sunday political program, "The McLaughlin Group.

The veteran Washington journalist was discussing the recent comments from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was caught last week by an open microphone on Fox News saying the Illinois senator is "talking down to black people" as he campaigns for the White House. Those remarks were largely seen in reference to Obama's recent admonishment at a Chicago church of some black men who he said were not living up to their responsibilities as parents.

Referencing Jackson's comments, McLaughlin said Obama "fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo - a black on the outside, a white on the inside."

"Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that…an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for?" McLaughlin asked his panelists.

The term "Oreo" is often viewed as a derogatory term toward some African-Americans who appear not to exhibit certain stereotypes of their race.

Watch: McLaughlin's comments cause uproar

Panelist Peter Beinart, a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations, immediately called that depiction of Obama "completely unfair."

Michelle Bernard, another panelist on the program and the president of the Independent Women's Forum also said she disagreed with the comments, saying "If Barack Obama is an Oreo, then every member of this generation of African-Americans is an Oreo, because we stand on the shoulders of the people who fought for our rights, and all of us say that you cannot blame 'the man' or white racism for everything that ails the black community."

Roland Martin, a CNN contributor and host of a syndicated radio show, says some people may be overreacting to McLaughlin's remark.

"Obama's candidacy is bringing to light to the internal conversation that is taking place in black America and white America. I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the dialogue," he said. "If John McLaughlin was an African American and who had made the comment, people would have said, well, he probably understands what he's talking about."

"The reality is we also have a white, his mother is white and his dad is from Kenya," Martin also said. "I think that is the qualifier there and this is a debate that you have heard take place inside of the black community that you also have people who question someone like Obama, where does he stand? Is he black enough?"

soundoff (529 Responses)
  1. Susan

    Another old fool making a stupid comment. when the hell will America grow up?

    July 14, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. s

    wow! sad.

    July 14, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. S.


    July 14, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. s

    i'm simply speechless

    July 14, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. Don

    I'm an African American and i have always said that he is trying so hard to show that he is black. I cann see Obama as one of those people who sits behind close doors with his wife, and ask why some African Americans cannot step up.

    July 14, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Kasey

    If the shoe fits !...........

    July 14, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  7. NotFallingInLine.org

    I understand what McLaughlin was trying to say, but, wow, what a stupid word choice.

    I think many people are offended by this neophyte pseudo-leader preaching down to Jesse Jackson, and well they should be.

    Knoxville NFIL

    July 14, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Former HC Girl

    John McLaughlin is so far above doing anything like that. Let's stop all this "can't say anything out of the way" on Obama. I am frankly sick to death of it.
    I watched the show and didn't think it was out of line at all.

    July 14, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. NewYorker Magazine Rocks

    Truth hurts?

    July 14, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. zuki

    A short sighted comment from an old, rusty, and parochial "political commentator".

    July 14, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Posn

    It totally amazes me how the news media came down very hard on the comments made by Rev Wright and when Michelle Obama made the comment she was proud of her country in her adult life for the first time. All of that was dipicted as racist and that this country is not racist, but everyday the true feelings of some in white america is heard or seen everyday. We have a lot of work to do and it truly saddens me how much racism exist in this country.

    July 14, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |

    It's unfortunate that this country is as racist as it is. Mclauglin is an old, old, old man who is stuck in the 1960's way of thinking and refering to people who are not white, or even half white.

    July 14, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  13. Rob

    I'm stunned at the amount of racist views being posted on this blog. I'm a Canadian and I thought I knew Americans well, but this level of bigotry, backwardness, and spite (mostly from Hillary supporters who are supposed to be Democrats), is bewildering.

    July 14, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. Brad from SC

    The Right wing party is one of Hatred!

    July 14, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    I heard the comment, as it was phrased as part of a hypothetical question. My answer would have been 'no answer", because any response that you provided would have to come from the acceptance that Obama was an "Oreo".

    Dr. John, you have really dissappointed me. I have defended some of your remarks in the past as you playing the role of host nad devil's advocate on all types of issues. "He is not a independent with a grudge against the major parties."

    Not anymore.
    Is this why WNBC-TV in NYC dropped you a couple of months ago?

    July 14, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. s2t

    this is utterly offensive

    July 14, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Andrea

    I hate it when people ask, "Is he black enough?" It is as racist as asking a different person, "Are you white enough?" Discusting! Both are discusting!

    July 14, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Election day is the only poll that matters

    Since blacks have used the Oreo term literally since the creation of Oreos as a product, I wonder is it only racist when a white man uses the term? Niiiiiiice...

    July 14, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. dave meccariello

    this is exactly why we need a black president... it gets the initial shock over with once and for all, and frankly no one can use the "color barrier" to success argument after a black president.

    July 14, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. TORI


    July 14, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. Andrea

    That Oreo comment, BTW is also discusting! That old white man should have been taught better!

    July 14, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Where's the truth

    Wow, McGlaughlin is a a tool, inside and out.

    July 14, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Richard Flory

    John McLaughlin is racist, an outdated old man who is of no value to the media. So long John!

    July 14, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Blogmaster 3000

    McLaughlin is a senile old geezer....this insensitive racially charged discussion only shows how out of touch he has become on issues and that its probably time to step away from broadcast media.......first of all he doesnt know what he is refrencing......in no way does the black community refer to our mixed brothers and sisters as "oreo"s...it makes no sense, its obvious they have a parent from each race.....that term was coined for those full blooded African Americans, that choose to privately and socially recognize thier heritage, whether it be history, current events, clothing, dialoge.....so next time get it right, you ignorant pig!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    To me that man made an openly racist comment and it should be handled appropriately by whomever he works for. I'm an African American and i don't feel like that comment even from an African American is appropriate, so it is definitely not appropriate from anyone else!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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