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 08: Female, 60, white

    It is sad that a country that sees itself as a world leader can't see someone as just a human being.

    This racist nonsense and constant emphasis on race is being seen worldwide and will continue to fuel animosity towards the US,

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Dave in Atlanta

    Yeah, let's do that. Let's go back to the debate about whether Barack Obama is "Black enough"

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. WatchwhatyouSay

    The media in any format is extremely effective in driving home views that it wants people to remember as their own. I think the comment was totally uncalled for and that he is so secure in his position that he thought it was o.k. to racially attack Obama regardless of the point he was trying to prove. He knows better but had to get his jab in and should be held accountable. I'd say fire his racist behind and send a clear message to political show commentators that they better censor themselves!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Elisabeth

    Obama only pretends he is black. He is mentalley more white than he for tactical reasons wants to admit. Frankly speaking I strongly believe that Hillary R. Clinton and her husband are more benevolent friends of black people than mr Obama pretends to be and in that sence more black than Obama himself.

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  5. Patrick

    How horrible for America to elect a smart, well spoken, thoughtful BLACK MAN. Jesus America. Wake up. 4 more years of Bush/McCain? Are you serious? We definitely need to prove for once that we aren't a nation of wedge issues and idiots.

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. zorba

    Oreo? OREO??? Who says Oreo anymore!?!?? That's almost as hilarious as Jesse Jackson being pissed that Obama was "talking down" to black people. Baloney. Black people no longer have to fit into ANYBODY'S expectation of who they should be, whether it be Jackson's or McLaughlin's. Like Jackson, McLaughlin is just another example of how American society has outgrown the old guard, including, I'm afraid, McCain.

    July 14, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |

    Oh the politically correct liberals are all mad. whenever someone calls Obama a name it is like blasphemy.

    I can tell you right now this guy knows nothing about the real black community. wrapped up all cozy in his Chicago mansion.

    If Mccain was called something controversial there would be no uproar at all. And he is a true american hero that sacrificed more in his pinky than Obama did in ten lifes. wake up !the way it was presented was incorrect but listen to his point.



    Then after the Democratic congress and Pelosi screw our country up more, we will again have a Republican majority that has learned from its mistakes.

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Florida democrat

    what a jerk!!

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. roy

    this is the perfect scenario when you do not have anything intelligent to say don't say nothing at all. For a person of his stature to utter it shows the ignorant side of his intelligence.

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. AV Dave

    Sen. Obama has a tough job ahead of him. As President of the United States, he's going to have to talk about race, and he's going to have to talk about race as President of ALL of the people of the United States, not just President of black Americans, but President of the white redneck as well.

    What will NOT work is having people jump up and down and start screaming when someone makes a comment like McLaughlin did. Like it or not, this is the type of conversation that folks are having in the coffee shops of white America and the barber shops of black America. You can scream that it shouldn't be happening...but it is. Telling people to shut up will only create anger.

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. Connie

    I hope that the next black person who runs for office is not so sensitive and such a cry baby. When you run for office you have to be pretty tough and he obviously isn't. If this petty stuff bothers him then how does he think he can be president. Perhaps he thinks as president everyone will just agree with everything he says. Obama and his campaign are the people who run around and say "we" are being treated unfairly, "we" aren't getting everything we deserve, "woe is we." Obama, tell us what you want to be called and we will call you that so you'll stop crying and get on with the problems at hand. It seems to me that some black people have such a grudge to bear when it comes to color. I don't care if Obama is purple as long as he can get the job done as president. Why don't we all stop talking about this crap. Why don't you just start calling McCain "whitie" if it makes you all feel better. I'm not going to tippy-toe around because I might say something Obama or his supporters don't like. Obama is black, African American, white, a man, whatever!!!! We have never had an slaves so stop blaming us for it. Oh, my God, I bet you are all saying how offensive that is. Well it's not offensive, it is the truth. This is America and I'll say whatever I please.........get a life and stop it!!!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Char


    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Arin

    While I will agree sexism was rampant during the primary, i have yet to hear from the Clintonites on the racism which was also and still is very prevalent as we can plainly see.

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Bulldog

    This is what is to be expected when we have the first black person as a serious presidential canidate. People will continue to make insensitive remarks and nobody is better than it than the GOP.

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. Votr

    Hey, what do you expect! Obama is playing the race card every chance he gets with great fanfare from CNN and the "mainstream" media. You can use any language at all to disparage McCain but Obama and his wife are off limits for anything but "praise the Messiah"!

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. Joel

    Overblown!!!!! Great journalism overshadowed by thin skinned society. Self righteous individuals were not listening to the whole content and took just some of the ingredients.


    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. dan

    Instead of apologizing for all the nishaps and oppression since the late 60's, he is clearly a bitter racist that has no place in our generation!

    July 14, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Sarah, 23, FL

    I thought we were living in the year 2008 not 1908. This is sad. I know for sure that my generation is better than this and race relations will not exist too much when all of you older people are gone!

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. Emili Johnson

    WOW!!! And Oreo...really???

    First we have Jesse Jackson saying that he wants to cuts Obama's nuts off and then we have this guy calling him an Oreo in an attempt to make a comment on what Jackson said...

    Well, I guess that is America for you...land or the free and home of people who choose poor words and get criticized for it later...

    Think before you speak people...PLEASE!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Ms. Sims

    I love how people keep saying Obama is playing the race card. When neither he or his campaign has said nothing about race. It's the media, his critics and supporters who are pointing this out. Just as they blamed him for sexism against Hillary when he did/said nothing to promote these views.

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Moxie

    This is for Rob from Canada...I think you are the moron here. Why do you hate HIllary so much? How do you know her supporters are behind these comments? Why can't decent, hardworking, smart Americans have questions about a man who is wanting to lead this nation, have questions about all aspects of his life? Just because they don't want an "unknown" for President, doesn't mean they don't want him because he is black. Oh, and by the way, the easiest way to tell which candidate the blogger is supporting? The spelling and grammar....

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Rache from Bowie

    RACE, SKIN COLOR!!!...I gotta tell you as a society intelligent people would not be so concerned about melanin but with a person's content and character. It is puzzling to me that skin color, not height, not weight, not eye color, not foot size or any other benign characteristic is used to judge people. Some ignorant socially reprehensible miscreant devised this concept and we now need more intellectually gifted Americans to get us out of the 1600's.

    McLaughlin knows better–he's never used Kike to describe anyone or used the word Chink for Chinese people-give him an Imus vacation and to hell with him.

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. RRO

    This is hardly racist, or controversal except for the oversensative supporters of Senator Obama. There angry response to such minor things makes me question there ability to run this country.

    Why is it that Senator Obama can make insulting comments about small town america, that his supporters can package anyone who doesn't support them as biggoted yet god forbid someone should say anything about him.

    This election is the lowest of the low from all sides. 😦

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. independent

    Race card after race card. Must be dealing from the blackjack boot, since there can't be that many of the same card in one deck !!!

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. Ness

    This is stupid- and all of you who think he is out of line are stupid too.
    This is the United States- and the liberals are destroying free speech.

    He was hosting a show- and created a question that people on the panel would be compelled to respond to.
    He got an open and honest discussion. Stop being stupid- welcome to the REAL world. Not everybody wins, not everyone is created equal, and the world isn't squeaky clean. Shut up and get a life. If you don't like his show- use your freedom to turn it off.

    July 14, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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