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. A R Pulhamus

    Tasteless, disgusting remark.

    July 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. blue

    Obama brought and played the Race card for this election, he can't back away from it now when he sees it may show something he doesn't want.

    Obama has done the impossible, he is now making John McCain look good to Democrats.

    Obama has played in the gutter and now has jumped to the RIGHT of McCain on Faith Based Initiatives, NAFTA, Campaign Finance, FISA, call to military service (even though HE never Registered, when he was supposed to, which also makes him ineligible to be President....wait for that BOMB to drop), and the Iraq War.(that's because he's about even now with his flip flop, but he started from a totally different position),

    Get a fork for Obama.

    July 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Just another nasty old white guy..where's the news?

    July 14, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Glen

    I never thought volume and tact were an easy mix. McLaughlin carries it off most of the time. But sooner or later, the shouting triggers irrational rhetoric. This is just one of those inevitable times. O'Reilly counts on stuff like this. So did the late great Wally George.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. republican girl for Obama

    Reminder John Mccain has joked about killing Iranians not once but twice....... he is not a leader, he just sounds like some of the commentors on this site. Time for a leader not a weak jokin jester

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Please stop screaming at each other...

    Differences within groups are greater than differences between groups...time to dismantle the little boxes we try to put people in for our own narrow ideas and see each other as individuals.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. tina

    using the term "oreo" by blacks or whites is racist. There are many black people who are racist of their own. By the way Barack can't be an "oreo" because he is half white and half black, he is not all black on the outside and white on the inside which is where the term "oreo" came from. People need to grow up black and white alike!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Democrat

    I am as liberal as they come and don't for one minute believe that John McLaughlin is a racist. I'll bet many on this board calling him that have not even watched his program. Also I am much less concerned with Obama being a Republican on the inside and a DEmocrat on the outside than with his color.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Will-be-Done

    Obama is not an "oreo"...he's just educated! The rest of black America needs to get themselves together because no one is coming to SAVE US!! This isn't exactly "Burning Mississippi" We live in a global world now where white people can't even guarantee they will have much success in all areas, so why would they feel sorry for us today? Equal Opportunity is not something given away, it is something that must be worked for. Obama I'm sure is just sick and tired of hearing the same old songs about black struggle...lord knows I'm sick of seeing it everyday! He just wants the black community to take responsibility for the little things that we can in our lives and our communities: teenage pregnancy and acceptance of drug culture are primary! Can we all please have an open mind for some positive change?

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Western Voter

    White guys don't get it...never have...which is why this election matters so much. This is the best opportunity in forty years to have a conversation about the extent to which subtle racism is a part of our ignorant understanding of the world.

    Comments like this one demonstrate how racism is interwoven into our thoughts...ever go to the drug store and ask for a "flesh colored bandaid." See what color it is.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Jonathan

    America was based on freedom of speech. Why is it that people are no longer able to say what is on their mind? We must be able to say what we feel. Even if it may seem foolish, I believe that is every American's right. We must accept that and learn from it. People can come up with their own opinions but we should not hold people in spotlights different from talk on the street. Do you not think other people have made these comments before? Lets be real and think.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. rick

    everyone (Americans all) .

    lets stay focused, this is a distraction.

    Mr. Obama has proven he can take it, he's tough. We need to be tough too. Let's call them out and move on.....

    Obama 08

    YES WE CAN!!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. carsosi

    Did any of you listen to the entire speech he gave? He stated that he has heard the comment "Oreo" prior and said that if that is indeed the definition, then Obama is one.

    I am tired of the media only providing part of the information causing us, the viewers and consumers, to take the side of the media only for the mere fact that it sells advertising space.

    You can make any person sound like a fool with the tools of choosing which words or phrases to use and which ones to leave out. Don't believe me? Go to church.

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. reggie

    Who cares? Nobody is allowed to say anything about Obama. When will it end? This is getting a bit out of control....

    July 14, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Montana is Obama Country

    America the Beauiful..

    America the Free...

    America the Diverse...

    America is One Nation meant for everybody to live, love and be happy..

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Mek,WA

    What a typical American and sad situation. It is hard to believe anyone these days! Go Obama!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  17. RBR

    Supppose Mr. McLaughlin had phrased his question to the panel, "Do you think Barack Obama is black on the outside & white on the inside?" Lighten up, people! Why is the label "Oreo" so offensive? Clarence Thomas has been called an Oreo since he was oppointed to the Supreme Court, & rightfully so. This isn't an offensive term at all, in my view; it's simply an abbreviated way of describing someone whose color is black, but whose views follow the lines of some conservative whites.

    For goodness sake, stop pointing the racist finger at every opportunity you see. It's become terribly tiresome & boring. Move on to the issues that matter in today's world. When will blacks remove the chip from their shoulder? Stop trying to make Americans pay for things that happened in the past. Hasn't the nomination of Barack Obama for President of the United States proved that we are all equal in this country, no matter what color we are?

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. John Gillett

    The problem with the comment is that Obama's mother is white, he was raised by a white grandmother in a white neighborhood and educated in white schools - he is not black enough to be an oreo...

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Joe, New York City

    B. Hussein Obama better learn to get a tougher skin if he is going to be a politician.

    Look at all the names and hateful articles about Bush and Chaney. When it's a derogatory comment about a big liberal, the idignation comes out full throtle.

    Too bad...he's going to have to TOUGHEN UP. The old saying, "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" really applies here.

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. gary

    Wasn't this what he was marching for? So that generations to come would have their dreams become reality? Vote Obama stop the drama!

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Just Thinking

    You know what has me worried the most about Obama being the next President???? We will become a country all about race. White people can not say anything yea or nea about him cause we would be racist and blacks are going to call everything that white people say against Obama as racism so get ready America to read headlines everyday about some word someone used instead of reading about the real isues of the world . . White people have also been called crackers, oreos etc...And Who Cares. Those are just words. We as a country need to worry about the war and our economy Not about the word Oreo and this message is from a White Cracker, Yea I said it and I am not offended. Grow up Americans....Go back to the old saying "Sicks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me"

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. David

    It was used in a particular "historical" context. Read the transcription PC police.

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. OBlahBlahBlahBama

    You liberals question the discrimination of your candidate but are quick to use any number of derogatory comments about John McCains age. Pathetic.


    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. suzyku

    More stupidity, more ignorance-from someone who "should" know better! No excuse for racism or bigotry! No more watching this jerk!

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. I'm Black and I'm Proud

    Can we please stop calling everyone that makes a commit that you don't agree with a racist. People, in order for us to come together as a nation, as a people, we have to have a dialog about race and yes sterotypes. Everyone has them and until we can sit face to face with one another and talk about it, we will never come together as AMERICANS.

    July 14, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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