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. Angela

    If your child did not graduate, wears pants below his/her behind, curses out old people, shows no respoct for self and others, can't read, does not vote, and does not positively contribute to society then the remarks are for you.

    As a teacher I see some of the children that are supposed to be our future – the things that he is saying are true. It is sad on parent teacher day as parents don't even come to see about their children (progress or lack thereof) It takes more than the teachers and the governmenet. A good upbringing begins at home!

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

    People are so over-reacting to this. McLaughlin first provided a background reference to the word "Oreo" – then he used it in its context in a discussion question. The only thing McLaughlin should have done is use the air quote so that all the stupid people would get that he is not calling Obama an "Oreo".

    If the word "Oreo" offends people – then this whole article should offend you.... oh wait, they used quotes around it. "Oreo".

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Brian

    I think it is good to finally find out who the real nut jobs are in the media. Once again if we just had real journalist this problem wouldn't pop up time after time.

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Ashish

    McLaughlin brings up a very good point. Unfortunate that it got lost in this whole racism witch-hunt. Half the people who are calling him and old and out-dated racist have not seen the show. They have absolutely no idea under what context the comment was made. What worries me more than racism is the number of people that allow their emotions to dictate their judgement.

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. Doug

    Double standard at work here. Blacks use offensive terms toward whites all the time. Nothing is ever said.

    I see no problem with this comment. He was simply trying to make a point. Which I think is very valid.

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Brian

    The bottom line is that the country has a sick racist past... Our country is built to encourage inclusion. Until comments by Jesse Jackson, McLaughlin, The New Yorker, Rev. Wright, Rev Hagee, Buchanan, and others are despised by all people then no changes will occur...on a side note when white Americans stop lying about the realities of racisms (that is still exists) then none of this will change... just my half a cents

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Terri

    Older white's and conservatives cannot help themselves this is how they have been raised their entire life all we can do is pray for them and keep it moving.

    The term Oreo as used in the black community meant you were half and half (Black/white) had nothing to do with being black on the outside and white on the inside. (dumb)

    so part of him that is educated, articulate fair and openminded and trying to help people of all races is that considered to be his white side and anything ghetto would be his black side ? OK

    Go Obama

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Edith Arkansas

    One can look for the right wingers to do everything they can to bring Presential Elect Barack Obama down. I hope the voters denounce this type of demogology.

    July 14, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. david from calif

    Wow....I mean really....WOW!
    Just unbelievable.

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Tom S

    There is no bigot like old bigot. People like this guy and Imus should be put out to pasture. There are many who like to have jobs like these guys have, and who would not say such irresponsible things.

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. Kpawlak

    Mclaughlin did not call Obama an Oreo he was simply referencing a stereotype that blacks use. Let's not twist things around please. If a black person said this we wouldn't here a peep. Once again an example of how you can't say anything about Obama unless it's praise for the Messiah!

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. CelebGhost

    CJ...I totally agree with your comments. By choosing to run for president Obama has allowed himself to be put in the spotlight and this means he is subject to commentators of all kinds...including the racist ones...it doesn't make it right but the American people just have to realize free speech means free speech to say whatever you want even if its racist unfortunately and can really hurt others...McLaughlin really should have had better judgment for all his years in the media

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. romeo

    i used to watch him regulary not anymore once he showed his true colors why dont he just use a hood when he's on air again .............

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Todd

    Wow. What a jerk. He should be taken off the air for that racist remark.

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    First, we have the New Yorker magazine protrayal of Obama and Michelle; second we have Jesse Jackson, the NutCracker, and now we have the Oreo Craze McLaughlin...Obama is getting attacked pretty hard lately......where are the Kool-Aid Drinkers?

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Sandra

    He didn't call him an Oreo, he said he fits the stereotype of what some blacks would call an Oreo. Has it really gone so far that no white person can discuss race in this campaign? Is this Obama's ace in the hole? Silencing people?

    And, Obama's comments about black men needing to take some responsibility for the children they are fathering are about the only comments of his that I've agreed with in this campaign. It is high time that men of all races take equal responsibility for parenting.

    If you look really, really hard, set aside all logic, reason, and personal responsibility, and twist people's words to sound worse than they are, you may find racism. However, you need only glance at a billboard along the highway or watch a Burger King commercial to see the blatant degradation of women. If you want to fight something, fight sexism.

    July 14, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Dennis

    One thing most Americans can agree on, black, white, Republican or Democrat, we like Oreos.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Jonathan

    He called Barack an oreo. Big freaking deal. There was absolutely no racial subtext behind what he said. If anyone needs to grow up it's not McLaughlin it's all the people that are getting up in arms about what was admittedly a bad choice in wording.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Racism exists only because racists exist! If we have an open mind, the world truly will be a better place for our kids and generations beyond.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Sissy2004

    I'm African American but I understood what he was saying. I don't think he meant anything harmful from his statements. I think we all need to relax on the word games and stop reading so much into everything. He said "oreo" He did not call obama an oreo he said that is what blacks call other blacks whom they think is black on the outside but act white. Again, I don't see what he said that was so wrong.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Chris

    Hmmm, why does the importance of race still hold any weight? I'll tell you. Because stupid old white and black men make it an issue. Don Imus this fool.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Obama's Racist Statements

    From Dreams Of My Father;
    “The emotion between the races could never be pure….. THE OTHER RACE (WHITE)

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Rich

    I'm also very dissapointed in Roland Martin, shame on you~

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. proud army and navy mom

    So the gov't is going to spend trillions to help bail out freddie and fannie mac, our troops are getting injured and killed over a lie and food and gas is getting to the point of a luxury to have and cnn still stirs the race pot.

    Nobody cares what this idiot said. this is how george bush stole the election in 2000 and 2004, by stupid, irrevelant stuff to mask the real lies and true conditions of our economy. the bible states, To those who have ears, let them hear.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. Steve

    Another old man speaking nonsense and adding absolutely nothing to a real political discussion. He's due back at the nursing home so they can clean up his slobber.

    July 14, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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