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. Obama Supporter from FL

    That is just ridiculous. What an idiot.

    July 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. CGRodriguez

    There's nothing wrong with having an open and candid conversation. But, whoa. Let's not get too comfortable. Look at what the Obama's have to face: bigoted comments in the guise of candor; tasteless, offensive, and demeaning characters plastered across the New Yorker; and the constant humdrum of all the other wrong (but curiously long-lasting) rumors about the man and his family.

    July 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Matt, Manchester, CT

    I suggest Obama Zombies should get a bit thicker skin if they think they're going to win a presidential election.

    July 14, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. milka

    Yeah...I am too...
    I meant that if we have another Republican, then it'll just about be another Bush...
    Not because he's old and white...XD

    July 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Arden

    If these disgraceful remarks are allowed to go on , all the progress that the African American culture has made will be pushed backwards. Its disgusting and Americans find it appauling. They don't want to raise their children in an environment of tasteless , racist remarks.

    July 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Seriously?

    Reverse racism?
    The truth?
    They say it?

    Since when is an American supposed to be jealous and inflamed because they can't say something offensive or shallow that someone else gets to say? So is the message I'm getting out of a lot of these comments is that since he speaks well and is educated, he's an "oreo" and everyone should call it like they're seeing it? That says a lot about the state of things, when an educated and articulate black man is looked down on for "emulating white people" (seriously!?).

    He's just an articulate, educated man. The end. So yes, anyone who points out race with "Oreo" or otherwise is being racist. And I hope my kids never think that "reverse racism" is a horrible thing that just keeps them from calling other people names so that they can express their own bigotry in nice little soundbites.

    July 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. texan

    Another Word for " OREO " is Zebra there is nothing wrong with it is been around for decades so what is the fuzzzz about it this time?
    Mrs. Michelle Obama call the Anglo race " Whitey" again thta word is been around for decades.

    July 14, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. cathy carron

    No matter what anyone says or does Obama's going to be stuck in the 'Goldilocks Syndrome' forever more given who he is and what he represents...so everyone chill out...and enjoy the summer

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. claudia

    what is wrong with people in the country

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Slider

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

    Yeah, it's so derogatory even some blacks use it to describe those they feel aren't black enough. Remember Obama pandering to these same blacks to establish his "cred" by stating he marched in marches he never marched in, like Selma?

    How he backtracked when it was brought out that he didn't?

    C'mon CNN, must you merely provide conclusive evidence of what Thomas Jefferson wrote about newspapers?

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Just a Mom

    This matters little to me. These names they call Senator Obama and the image on the New Yorker cover are distractions. We are at war in two different countries and our executive branch is being accused of war crimes. I'm still voting for the person that I believe can help our country.

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror?

    As long as Barack keeps running, the true nature of how some Americans truely feels towards non caucasians will show. Some caucasians, despite ALL of them being of European descendants ( whether migrated or were born here ) after their parents migrated to escape some form of pestillence at one point or another, have a right to be fully recognized as Americans and anyone else with a tan who fore parents migrated here cannot be fully recognize as Americans whether or not they were born here. Oh the irony...oh the irony...

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |


    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Lyndsey

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

    Obama 08!!

    July 14, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Sacto Joe


    July 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |


    July 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. JDC // Ohio

    The more liberals try to create political correctness and improve racial relation, the worse it gets. I am 65, and growing up, we tried to accept and treat all people right. Now, everybody has a chip on their shoulder and try to use race as a credit card.

    July 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Kobs

    By the way I forgot,
    How are blacks surposed to act ???!!! Does he mean blacks are a seperate set of beings. What happened to the universality of goodness !!!! I thought what is good in the US is good in Europe, Africa, Asia and all over. If Obama says it is bad, it is because he is a human being who just wishes good for everyone. He can not say it is good for whites to care for their children but not good for others.
    Or put it the other way, he can not say it is good to have broken homes for blacks unless you are racist !!!

    July 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Meg

    just remember there's always someone out there that has it worse than this!

    July 14, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  20. L

    Barack Obama is reigniting racial tension that was trying dry up years ago. He's not a black man that many admire, he is so far left, he speaks down to people (inlcuding blacks), and i am never going to get over the fact that he and his family sat in the anti-american church for 20 years.

    I am not racists at all, i was brought up in a mixed area and colour means nothing to me, but i just dont trust BHO or think his story is admirable (chicago politics are dodgy and he worked his way up the ranks in the dodgy way)

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Nordon

    I can understand what he was trying to use but it's too much, or the term needed to be explained more and put in the perspective of Jesse Jackson's view towards Obama.

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. G Unit

    McLaughlin and Don Imus should take up shuffleboard together at the racist retirement home.

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Chuck, Democrats United We Stand

    Everyone needs to take a big chill pill and stop trying to lable every word, comment or position as being racist or sad or what ever. The sensativity level has gone through the roof lately. After all the generations that have come before us, NO ONE, is pure as far as race and ethnicity is concerned. This world is one huge melting pot and we all need to settle down some.

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |

    One more stupid comment. Whose next to make one? Any bets?
    I can't wait for Nov to be over! All the idiots are coming out of the woodwork this is sad sad sad!

    People need to start checking their DNA and they will fine they are not purely white or black.

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. Joe Reg

    How sad!

    Indeed, some people can not see beyond their nose.

    July 14, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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