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. Citizen Ruth

    People People People Obama is about elevating the commonalities amoung us all. He does make one mistake, he gives the American people more credit than is probably deserved, he argues that we are all decent and intelligent people. From what I've seen and heard during this campaign I'm not sure that is true.

    July 14, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Scott A.

    This is POLITICAL CORRECTNESS run amok. He wasn't calling anyone an Oreo. What's the problem here?

    July 14, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Steve Jacksonville, Florida

    Folks, in case you were wondering, racism is alive and well in the good ole USA. What Barack Obama is experiencing is just a fraction of what goes on every day in this country from all levels of income and occupation. When institutionalized racism is deemed as being acceptable, don't be surprised when your friends and neighbors exhibit the same.

    July 14, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. ZB

    McLaughlin, et. al have a very confused, ultimately racist concept of black people. To them, true blackness is "savage" and anything else is a sell-out. Think about the condenscion and racism that attitude implies.

    Telling that McLaughlin, Hilliary Clinton and Jesse Jackson are all over 60.

    July 14, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Freddy

    Black people that have to act white in order to get ahead, are not proving the success of any movement or effort in the past 50 years. The idea is to celebrate the differences, not weazle around them by acting white to white people in order to get ahead, and then hide the fact that you are 50% white, and were raised by white people in front of black people in order to get votes.

    July 14, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. TC

    I guess former HC girl must not be black nor any part black because otherwise she would understand why the "oreo" comment is offensive and it was totally out of line. I have never been a fan of McLaughlin anyway so I am not surprise at any statements he makes. I think he is an old, rude and arrogant man, I don't understand why anyone would be a guess on his show because he always think his opinion is right and the only one that counts.

    July 14, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Linda

    Obama can whine as much as he wants about JohnMcL talking about the the old term as he wishes but it is still correct, it was a term and that's what was being referred. He may not like it, but he has shown us to be the BIGGEST HYPOCRITE WALKING, so he can take his RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION and THROW IT UNDER THE BUS WITH EVERYTHING ELSE HE HAS FLIP FLOPPED ON.

    July 14, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Rick

    He is right though, he is playing all sides of the field, but Obamas latest with staying with the drilling ban is not a sain judgement for todays economy and gas prices. Obamas statement shows me he is not ready for change and wants the American people to depend on government and foreign oil. I say we start drilling and bring everyone home and quit supporting the world,

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. j olsen

    I find myself wondering why it is that the media doesn't cover many, if any of the very important issues that face our nation at this critical moment in history? Instead they focus on race, and "oreos", and Rev. wright, and Jessee Jackson, and "is Obama a muslum who took his oath w/the Koran", and other foolish distracting garbage. There are a multitude of very important issues out there... lets hear about some of them. Maybe the corporate media could do something "new", and actually come up with some good old fashion "news". You read the new Yorker, or Time, or any of the other big maret magazines and all you find is the same worked over mumbo jumbo being played 24/7 on CNN, FOX, or any other "news" station. This is the same corporate media who entirely missed the boat on Iraq/WMD, fiasco. Its garbage.

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

    And yet Jessie Jackson can say what he said and it is water under the bridge. Give me a break. Poor choice of words from both.

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

    The media and some some of the so called surrogates on the right will do and do until they get what they want: turn this year's presidential campaign into one of race. Again, the stragedy of divide and conquer. Since issues like being gay and aborton are not doing the job, let's just throw race in there. Its the old time stand by. But change is coming regardless America. Obama will be the next president of the U.S. simple because most Americans are beyond this nonsense, sees thru it, and are not going to vote against their own interest like in the past few presidential election cycles. They are hurting all the way around, and there is no way in hell the majority of voters are going to put John McCain in the white house. You heard it here first folks. Make a note in your calender indicating the date and time.

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. JIM...TX

    McLaughlin an the New Yorker are just two right wing whackos on the Republican side spewing their agenda of hate and division....more will no doubt follow in the next few months. Too bad we still have people that believe in that crap! Almost as bad as their fearmongering attacks:(

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. do not want

    I do not want Obama as President... now every time someone said or publish anything is racist. I am tired of it already. We are going to be walking on eggs now because the President is black for the next 4 years? Is this going to be the excuse “de jour” If Obama was not up to the task he should not had run.

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. BG

    Would this be big news if a Black talk show host said something like this?

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

    Lets' not forget he is half white. This whole notion that he is only "black" is totally ridiculous. I agree that he should stop running as a black candidate and instead just run as a candidate for the American people. Oh and before anyone say that my comment is "racist", I am black who is born and raise in South Africa.

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Xavier, Saint Louis, MO

    Like I said before, this is just a tip of the iceberg. There are going be so many ignorant statements about Obama, once he's President, come November. So Obama supporters, just get ready for all the negative name calling. Because there is still a bunch of ignorant people in this country; white and black.

    July 14, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. Kewpie

    McLaughlin is about as relevant to the Black community as Jesse Jackson – – NOT. They can both go take a hike as far as I'm concerned. Obama's got the relection wrapped up; end of story. I'm just expecting him to stand and deliver once I help put him into office.

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Mark Bittner

    And tell me again why McCain's aide was wrong for call us a nation of whiners?

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. George Meadows

    When is everything that is a little off-color,going to be stopped being labeled as "racist"?
    Most people are merely looking for excuses.I will vote for Obama,but McLaughlin called the situation what it is-not racist.

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Jon in scary Oregon

    Geez, alls fair when liberals call us "white, clinging tp religion and guns" etc, and some guy uses a "black" term to reference BHO and he gets miffed. Ha, ha get use to it BHO. You are after all half white...........

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. K

    This from the most "racist" white political TV show on the air, we'll just ignore the old man on this one. Jesse Jackson played himself because of his comments about barack obama and he did so out of jealousy and envy and has put a riff between him and the black community. The term "Oreo" is beyond inappropriate, what? all black people are not articulate or can be eloquent when they speak? here's a question? where do white people come from? Seeing that it is a known and scientific fact that all life began in africa what does this make you?

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Pat G

    He is neither black or white. He is a man of mixed bloodlines putting him the middle of nowhere. He is not an African American and he is not a caucasion. In just plain talk he belongs to neither race, but a new race that has evolved from mixed bloodlines. It would be great if we all stopped listening for a reason to yell "racist" and started listening to either candidates solutions to serious problems this country has. We are not in high school and we do have real problems that are threatening many people's lives in this country, no matter what color their skin. Get it together people before we loose our country.

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Chris

    I didn't see the show, so I don't know the context, but I think it's safe to say that this was a poor choice of words. The race issue is irrelevant to me. Enough with this BS, just focus on the dang issues. As far as I'm concerned Sen. Obama is by far the better choice, but all this other stuff is just a distraction.

    July 14, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  24. Splurge

    The reaction here is typical of Obama and his race-bating supporters. If you choose to ignore the context of the comment on this show just as you ignored the satire of the New York cover then what you're asking for is not fairness and equality: it's special treatment.

    July 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. Ken

    Hey, Democrat for McCain, you posed the question: "how ignorant does obama think we are???" Given that your description of Obama instead fits McCain to a tee, and given the way you choose to label yourself, I would hope Obama thinks you are severely ignorant.

    July 14, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22