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. TSAH


    You comment is "empty" and ignorant!!! What does it have to do with "OREO COOKIES"????

    July 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. ElieH

    I guess Im an Oreo too, since I prefer V8 over Kool-Aid. Honestly what is acting black or white? We argue over the dumbest things. Lets grow up people!

    July 14, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Dave, Illinois

    You hypocrites who are so offended about what this twit said are probably the same ones who posted hateful remarks about John McCain' age or his wife's former addiction to pain killers. Obama's Hitlerite truth squad must really be stirring the pot on this one.

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Ron QR

    I think it is clear that both John MacLaughlin and Jesse Jackson, both of whom are just a few years older than I, are out of touch with what is happening. Their comments do not help and are frankly off center. They still represent a race based thinking common to much of our generation and it is time for them to step aside for wiser voices (of all ages) to have a chance to be heard.

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Gobama

    Isn't it amazing how bigots would seek to misrepresent the PRIVATE & HARMLESS comment of Jackson to get in their racist dig? lol

    Obama wisely did not take Jackson's comment personally.
    However, but the bigots will seek to read all their internalized racism and bigotry in those HARMLESS COMMENTS OF JACKSON!

    America has serious issues with the economy, energy, wars, etc, etc. Yet the media is intent on diverting Americans attention, as was done in the run up to the very very serious Iraq war!

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. becky

    Sad, very sad... It is time to get all those old fools out of Washington...I am 49 and I must say it is time to move on. Old policies are not working anymore, old thinking does not work anymore, and no, it is not in my head....

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. dan

    This is why this idiot is raging against everything, he even rages against his own race for not being white or black enough. Finally an educated black man gets power to make this dumb idiot look stupid!

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. white people

    and we see that we are not the people we profess to be...this is your God fearing white christian Nation ? perhaps we do need a change. perhaps if we could better understand each other would live in something other than fear and ignorance. not all Black people like rap, not all Latino people are Mexicans, not all Whites are racist, not all Asians work in sweat shops, not all Muslims drive taxis, not all Indians work in a 711...why does it take a 911 to bring us together and why are we so quick to tare each other apart?

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Whoami

    Just another example of why old people like McCain are not relevant to today's society.

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Kelley

    Can't a day go by without some old white fool sticking his foot in his mouth??? For crying out loud...this is 2008!!!!! What a sad world we live in.

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. joann

    Oh for god sake people, can't you remember Obama injecting race early on when the said "typical white person" and his "white racist grandmother"; then there was sexist when he said to that reporter "hold on sweetie, we'll talk to the media later"; then addressing all black men about being absent fathers, as if white absent fathers didn't exist; that was his white half talking to black men. Why do you all hold him so high above everyone else? Why is there this double standard? I don't get you whinners! That old man was right some of this nation is made up of Whiners – you obama supporters.

    July 14, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Rita

    As a bi-racial woman (black and white) I was called that several times as a child and was very hurt by it. It's a terrible term. Our skin color does not define how we should act or be.

    July 14, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. FS

    This Country will never grow up, just look at these posts, look at what the media chooses to concentrate on , look at how every paper u open, site u visit, show u watch has something about Obama, yet people blame him for getting the coverage like he asked for it. Does he have an opponent CNN??? just wondering.

    July 14, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Status Quo

    Yet another example of the fundamental disconnect between White and Black America. I think its safe to say that Jesse doesn't consider Barack an "oreo" but instead his comments were motivated by jealousy. However, McLaughlin does not have an understanding of the dynamics of relationships, political or otherwise, within the Black community. Therefore he need not comment. Best believe this won't be the last of outrageous comments made in the media before the elections. It'll probably get much worse

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. AntiBrenda

    McLaughlin = Jesse Helms

    To many the latter exemplified an American hero.
    What's unussual about his brethren heroes keeping up his heroism?

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Michelle

    OK–"Oreo" was a stupid comment. Case closed.

    However, viewers did not see the entire JJ tape.

    Apparently Jackson made other inappropriate comments as well.
    What else did Jesse say?

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Estelle T Hill

    Shame! Shame! Shame on you. Can we forget about race at any time in America. Can we just think about the positive things that may be in the future for our country. McLaughlin and the "Oreo" comment, What comes up, comes out. He's just an old fool who had a senior moment. Jesse Jackson should get a grip, and keep his mouth shut. I certainly would not want him to be a minister, or leader in my community. I never liked him anyway. Who is he to talk after being unfaithful to his wife and having a child out of wedlock. Get over it Jesse. Finally to the New Yorker magazine about the latest cover illustration that shows Obama & Michelle in a very negative way. I've got a few words for you. "You suck!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Dave in TX,

    As I noted above, I watched the show as I do most every week. What makes this story newsworthy is how the individual panelists reacted or responded. Watch the re-run to see for yourself. This article is only words. You cannot see the faces of the people as they spoke.

    I will continue to defend Dr. John from friends who say that he this or that. I simply point out to them that the man has a PhD, and is playing host / devil's advocate. I am still waiting to discover his real views. The weekly predictions is more hype and drama than anything else.

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |


    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. adam quick

    Why can't people say what they think anymore? Everyone says free speech, free expression, etc... until race gets into things, than it's politically incorrect. Why are we scared of the differences between white and black people, it's because of people like Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton who point them out to us so much. And why do we call black people African-American. That term is a big part of what divides us. Black people that were born in Africa and now live here are African-Americans. The rest of the black people in America are just Americans. No one calls white people European-Americans. That's because there are no Jacksons and Sharptons to make us feel bad about ourselves.

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. Jason

    Referencing Jackosn's comments: Jackson's is mistyped.

    So will he be fired as well since he made a racist comment?

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. RB TX

    McLaughlin their are some openings at the New Yorker. What ever happened to free speech? Everybody needs to stop their whining and remember our Country was built on principles like Freedom Of Speech.

    McCain protect our values.

    Go McCain

    July 14, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. Marie

    This comment is dumb, and some of the responses are even dumber.

    What in the world is white ON THE INSIDE??? What is that?

    Is being ignorant = black?
    Uneducated maybe?

    Until someone describes to me what EXACT attitude, behavior makes Obama "white on the inside" they should all go vegetable somewhere else.

    Maybe if Obama wore sagging jeans, would that make him "black" enough for some of you? It's amazing how we're told to get an education and when we do we're somehow betraying our race.

    July 14, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. John

    For America to be great again it must be color blind, treat all people equally and with respect, and embrace the diversity that has made America the greatest nation on earth. If we cannot shake our prejudices and stereotypes America will remain stagnant and watch other countries eclipse of our social and economic power – and that will truly be a sad day.

    July 14, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Crazy!!!

    This guy is losing it, I think he is getting to that age where he says whatever he wants without thinking about the consequences. I think he needs to retire and try to enjoy the rest of his days. Basically he is just ranting on and on. Please, RETIRE!

    July 14, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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