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. Johnny

    But Obama is an Oreo? He is half black and half white, but apparently just wants to only claim being Black. What a confused man.

    July 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. k

    Why cannot Obama just be a QUALIFIED Candidate for President???? It makes me qustion whether or not America can/will ever get past It's Racist Past......

    July 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Kevin

    Only God can heal the deep divide and racism in America.

    July 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. Brian

    Just acting like a typical white person, right BO!!! You get what you give.

    July 14, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. dan

    what is he trying to? get peolple to feel sympathy for the guy or bring attention in a different negative way. either way it seems that it is all ment to divide us the people of the United States. dont fall for it people vote with your heart vote non partisen.

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Leslie, Ma.

    I don't get it. I grew up in Boston, we elected a senator, Ed Brook in the sixties. No one here gave a second thought about the fact that he was black. When civil rights came to my attention, I didn't understand why being black meant you had to sit in the back of the bus. I was astounded at the fact that in the south everything was seperate, one for white one for black. I am a caucasian american Jewish woman born in 1949 I guess we 'Jews' were taught differently. We believe all people are the same !!

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. D- Nice

    The Great Sad truth about some people will come out because of Obama's historic run. All the ignorance, racism, and bigotry that some people are hiding inside will come out in full force during this campaign. We have and will continue to see Some of America's true colors during this run. It is sad because it will expose the racists in some people and it is great because it will bring out the best in others. This is truly going to be an interesting run.

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. bitter_in_pa

    What does Nabisco have to say about this?

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |

    Obama REALLY needs to stop whining and being concerned about what other people say... He is coming off as a big baby... Just what we need Governing our Nation...

    STOP caring Mr. Obama... And... Start focusing on how you can start learning how to do the job...

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. cliff sanders

    This comment is simply another code word esposed by bigots who have an issue with an intelligent, well spoken, black man who defies the stereotypical box that they have tried for years to place us in. The ignorance is obvious and the telling stance that this media outlet has taken in not taking issue with these comments are amazing in the 21st century. There is no tact, decorum, or professionalism that is taken by Jim Crow esquire the reporter in our society that has taken the active role in attacking people that they do not even know and whose knowledge they have is only that person's appearance. But don't mind me, I can not stop a man from going to hell if he makes the conscious choice.

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    lol he's right

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. J

    Blacks can say whatever they want without fear of backlash. A co-worker of mine always calls me a cracker (which I hate!), but if I were to call her the "n" word, I'd get fired.

    By the way, Obama IS and oreo!

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Laurie

    There is simply no reason or excuse for name calling.

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Black In America

    Forgive Them father for they know not what they do

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Never Barak Obama

    Take it like Hillary did – remember: Clintons' the so called entitled to the nomination, Hillary the rich white woman.

    July 14, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Jay Anderson Jr

    First of all, why are we discussing race to start with. Obama is not a black man running for president. He's an American who's running for president that just so happens to be black. McCain just so happens to be white. I think the discussing of it is racism period. Its compartmentalization. It shouldn't matter who blacks vote for, who whites vote for, hispanics jews or whoever. It should be who America votes for as a whole. So all of this asking is he good for the black people and the black community should stop. I'm a black man doesn't like Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton and alot of these other leader that stand up today for the quote/unquote black community. It appears to me that they are asking for hand outs. i don't want any handouts, all I want for my people is opportunity. Its up to them to take advantage of it. Obama speaks to that. That is why I respect him.
    Obama 08

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Michelle

    CNN, please post this.

    "Oreo" is wrong but we need to see the entire JJ tape.

    If the rumors are true–Jackson made other inappropriate comments about Obama–about the way he was talking.

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Interesting

    America is a racist country. Period. This nonsense just keeps coming.

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. JIM...TX

    And this from a former Jesuit priest.....bigotry and hatred has no bounds!!!

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Michael Lewis

    I like when they attack Obama- it makes him stronger and stronger. Keep it coming.

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

    John McLaughlin doesn't have a racist bone in his body! This is ridiculous and much ado about absolutely nothing. I saw the show (and most of his shows for the past 20 years!) and I could almost hear the quotation marks around the word "oreo" as he asked the interesting question and received a very insightful answer from Michelle Bernard. So enough about that.......Now....why all the nasty comments about John's AGE????

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. B

    I think everyone needs to study a little black history here. Everyone is all up in arms about things they know nothing about. There have always been struggles between "blacks" and "mixed" people. I am sure Barack struggles with how and who he fits in with and I am sure Jesse Jackson wonders if the fact that he has a white mother makes him just white enough to make this run possible at this time in history. There is so much going on that people need to learn about before you go off on each other. Black history is obviously not taught in our schools, I had to seek it out in college, but I will tell you, it is helping me to balance a lot of what I see going on in this election and with all of this back and forth and the "racism", etc.

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Ricky Konkolewski

    Well McLaughlin reminds me of a Nutrigrain Bar, crusty on the outside, disgusting on the inside. Nice guy to have on national television, seems pretty reasonable to me, COME ON!

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |

    He is an "oreo" so what???? So am I, so are a lot of people... Why is this even a discussion???

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Derek

    I always get a kick out of articles like this. The closet racists always seem to show up online immediately after stories like this, pretending to have intellect, but still not too removed from riding over the hills with the Grand Wizard. The reason that old fools like McLaughlin are allowed to flourish with their racist rants is because of cowards who continue to excuse it. Look at the so-called "smart people" who think that the New Yorker cover was kind of funny.

    July 14, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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