July 14th, 2008
03:01 PM ET
6 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. Andy J, NY

    Once again, the its OK for the black community to use certain language, but its NOT OK for a white to say the same thing... hmmmm, sounds pretty darn racist to me.

    Also, i just want to say that i'm completely shocked that i agree with Roland Martin's comments in the article... see, thats what happens when you have an open mind and you are tolerant of other people's positions- even if you don't agree with them 90% of the time, there is still that small portion of the time when you might agree... Don't care much for Mr. Martin's positions on the issues most of the time, but here i agree with him.

    July 14, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. JAMES STEWART

    WELCOME TO AMERICA THE HOME OF THIS KIND OF TRASH. WE CAN DO BETTER.

    July 14, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Doreen Walker

    That's how he feels... and freedom is speech is fine. I dont agreed with the comment but it was okay to say if that's how he feels.

    July 14, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. Mike

    Not TOO Black, Not TOO White. Rock Obama is just ALL Right.

    July 14, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. NewAmericancitizen

    Seeing a trend?....New Yorker magazine, now this!, -.and yet, Republicans keep denying that their hatred towards Obama has nothing to do with his skin color!. Keep hating, but my vote and thousans of new American immigrants goes to the next president of USA, – Obama, and none to Mcsame.

    July 14, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. tony, Mount Vernon, NY

    McLaughlin should have learned from Bill Clinton. Don't say anything negative about Obama or you'll be labelled a racist. I guess he didn't get the memo. McLaughlin's characterization is accurate, but his wording could be considered offensive. Sounding racist was not his intent and we all know it, but it's just not "cool" to insult Obama. The Race Card is alive and well, and Obama will use it as often as he has to in order to avoid answering serious questions by just poo-pooing honest dialog as racist.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Griff

    Race, Race, Race, Race, Race..... Borac Obama brought all this down on himself... He is a Joke of all Problems, and a Master of none....
    Every tiome this So-Called Mesia gets on His Orange Box... He starts Preaching to everybody about what they should be doing.... While he does nothing but Yatter-on..... Flipping an Flopping, like a Seal in the Zoo....

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. S.M

    This is unacceptable to call Obama an "Oreo". McLaughlin calls Obama an "Oreo", well perhaps he had better check his family tree to see what he has running through his blood.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Andy J, NY

    Reverse racism... but we won't call it that.

    Its just like the biggest no-no of them all, the dreaded "N" word-

    Blacks say it all the time, and it is, in fact, a term of endearment to many in the black community. However, if a white says it- they are a racist, they are a bigot, and its simply forbidden.

    How is that carrying on the tradition of "All people being created equal."

    If its OK for some, and not OK for others, simply based on race... well, thats racism. Idiots.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Frank

    He was making a point and that word has been used before by the black community. This all stems from Jesse Jackson....jump on him!

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. LT in Cali

    Okay, first of all, how is McLaughlin going to describe what an "oreo" is? When I was growing up, an oreo was nothing more than a child who was half white and half black. I certainly did not consider them black on the outside and white on the inside. As for this reference in regards to Jesse Jackson, it makes no sense. Walk the walk and stop inserting your own opinions of why we AAs use certain terms.

    Normally, I agree with Roland on many, many issues but on this one, I have to disagree. Why does Barack have to be black enough or white enough? Why can he just be Barack without the labels? As for McLaughlin, I doubt that he truly understands the stereotypes of AAs and that is why he is viewed as one who does not understand. Until you can tell me that he has lived most of his life living in AA communities and really knows what these stereotypes really mean, he needs to keep these opinions to himself and report on what he really knows about.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Dr.No

    BARACK'S SUPPORTERS DON'T CARE WHAT RACE OBAMA IS!HE IS FULL-BLOODED AMERICAN PATRIOT!MCLAUGHLIN IS A WHITEY AND JACKSON IS A DARKIE.BOTH HAVE BIG MOUTHS!OBAMA IS PURE-BRED AMERICAN,BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN ADOPTED BY NATIVE AMERICANS AND GIVEN THE NAME BLACK EAGLE.JACKSON AND MCLUAGHLIN ARE IMMIGRANTS.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Fillibuddy

    Oreo's are so tasty, though.

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. SHAME

    THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BROUGHT OUT THE BEST AND THE WORST IN AMERICA. THIS COUNTRY IS SO UP FRONT RACIST AGAINST MANY PEOPLE AND RELIGIONS. WE ARE IGNORANT AND PROUD OF IT. SO IT SEEMS. THIS IS SHAMEFUL BUT THIS SO CALL GREAT COUNTRY HAS NO SHAME....

    July 14, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. jimmy velman

    I just think that Comments such as those recent of jesse jackson and Bernia Mac the comedian whose ideas of comedy are profanity and obscenity are out of line . I also do not like rap music. McLaughlin's Oreo remark is not as offensive and crude as those of Jesse Jackson and Bernie Mac

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. Terry

    OMG!!! When will this stop??????????? It not Ocama it is his use of the word and how he put it into context.

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Lisa

    Take Notes Super Dels!!

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. Donna in California

    African Americans can be many things to many people. We are all "people". Anytime you have a very educated and articulate African American some people consider it acting white. It's sad that these views still exist because Obama is black and white anyway....Remember?

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. Loretta from California

    If racism is within you....it will surface.

    DEMOCRATS UNITE!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Concerned in Alabama

    Well, that just goes to show that there are still igorant people in this country. Plus, many hate the fact that there's an intelligent black man possibly headed to the White House.

    Jesse Jackson has an envy problem!

    Others have a "color" problem!

    July 14, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. McBride, SLC, UT

    How offensive are these remarks! To infer that if a Black person feels the way Senator Obama does, that it is a white way of thinking is just wrong.. This is totally ridiculous. There are plenty of black people that feel this way and there are plenty of white men that are not responsible fathers also. This is not only a black man's problem. I guess white men like to think it is. Wake up and look around.

    July 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Substance not Rhetoric

    I feel sorry for america and all of us bloggers. Our true side is coming out because of a half black candidate. The racism of some white in the world who are just not ready for a black president. And the ignorance of some black people who feel they came blame everyone else for the problems while they refuse to take care of their own responsibilities. I feel sorry for Barack Obama because he in this country, he will not fully be accepted by either whites or blacks. I glad he stayed at Rev wright church to learn what it is to be black after living white for most of his life. I am also thankful for the opinion he has formed on his own about this nation.

    There are many good people in the world that say and believe ignorant things but they are still good people. In the end we all want to be able to care of our families and have a fair chance at life. Most of all whether you live in white america or black america (trust me they are not the same right now) we ail would fight for america.

    Obama is just a young trying to make one America.

    July 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. Crystal

    As a black person who has been accused of sounding white at times I thinks it just stupid. Bottom line people have a hard time with diversity. So if a person no matter what they are does things that are outside of the box they have been placed in it seems negative. The truth is however, that people who can relate to multiple groups should be seen as progressive because they can help to build bridges.

    July 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. georgia

    Don I don't believe you are black but an obvious decoy.
    The strategy now is to weaken Obama's s support in the African -American community. It won't work !!!! Obama 08 !!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Louis

    He didn't invent the term. He's just commenting on how things are said and done out there. Stating facts is now called 'Racist' these days.

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