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. ANGIE

    I AM GETTING REALLY SICK OF THIS THIS RACISIM THING IS OUT OF CONTROL AND YOU KNOW WHAT I AM WHITE WHAT ABOUT ALL THE YEARS THE BLACK PEOPLE HAVE VOTED AND STOOD BY THE WHITE MAN AS PRESIDENT YOU DIDNT HEAR THEM CRYING OR MAKING THESE REMARKS ITS JUST AWFUL I THINK PEOPLE WHO ARE RACISIT HAS GOT TO BE THE MOST IGNORANT PERSON ON THIS EARTH AND THAT GOES FOR BOTH BLACK AND WHITE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. chyk o

    A bunch of racists hidding under the umbrella of conservatism finally are coming out in doves to show their true color. If Obama survives this racists onslaught at this initial stage of the game, I bet that more will be thrown at him when he becomes the president – unfortunately the unfounded and baseless distractions.

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Linda from Prescott AZ

    I think that Mr. McLaughlin could have delivered his commentary without the use of such a term.

    As far as we've come in this country, we sill have a powerfully long way to go. How sad.

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. DEMOCRAT FOR MCCAIN

    honestly,

    obama is telling everyone what they want to hear...and not his

    own personal truth...we dont know the real obama

    and this is what he calls the "new politics"..."lets turn the page"

    how ignorant does obama think we are???

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    Susan,

    You hit the nail right onthe head!

    As far as the U.S. growing up, the fact that Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President is a sure sign of growing up, and hopefully we will reach full adulthood on election day in November.

    OBAMA!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  6. ET from OMAHA

    Another fool old minded guy. seriously there is a problem of ignorance in america. Any stat on that?

    July 14, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. ReggieCW

    I am amazed at how these "Talking Heads" constitently manage to place "Foot-In-Mouth" and do it SIDEWAYS!!!

    Anyone wether white or black who operates in the journalist realm
    show know what an Oreo" is as the term realates to African-Americans"

    July 14, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. clairex

    Americans, pls grow up.

    July 14, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Dave in TX

    The truely sad thing is that we live in a world full of sound bites and we rarely take the time to examine anything that is said. I would challenge CNN and everyone posting on this board to listen to the context of the comment and make a clear judgement on what was said and what was ment.

    I think we would all be better served if we payed closer attention to the horrible comments made by Jesse Jackson and then listen to the actual comment made by Mr. McLaughlin. I think his comments were relevant and exposed Jackson's and others view of Obama.

    As a black male. I face the same sort of criticism daily, and I commend Mr McLaughlin for having the insight to understand that these view do exist in the black community.

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

    My questions to McLaughlin are does he disagree that blacks should not be held accountable for their actions; that they somehow are exempt from criticism about their choices or lack thereof? I wholeheartedly agree that there are some issues within the black community that require more accountability from our government; but by the same token, the absenteeism of fathers, the violence, and lack of accountability is a plague that can not be fixed by the government alone. The government can pour money into black America and it will not solve all of these issues because we all have choices. With or without fathers, role models, money, etc. American life presents all of us with choices. Many choices require sacrifice, accountability and perseverance.

    July 14, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. CJ

    As long as Barack is running for office,ignorance will continue to plague him in the media.I've been called an Oreo before and didn't let it get to me cause there's no such thing as acting like a color.But it is offensive and for a well known commentator to use the word is an error in judgment and point blank,its kinda racist.

    July 14, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. Al Ware

    The closer Sen. Obama gets to winning the presidency the more you're going to hear ridiculous and offensive comments such as that of Mr. McLaughlin, to include caricatures of the Obama's such as that of the magazine "New Yorker." Americans should be outraged and upset at such antiquated attitudes and behavior. It is racial stereotyping at the highest level. The Obama's have not done anything that would justify labeling them as terrorists, unpatriotic, or racist radicals. As far as Roland Martin comments, it shouldn't matter what the race or gender is, those type of comments by Mr. McLaughlin are wrong, no matter what the source of them are. It's time for a new attitude and change when it comes to tolerance of such behavior. As an american I am ashamed of some of the behavior words and actions of those in the media. It's devisive, offensive, and destructive behavior that is meant to cause harm and achieve ratings!

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. joe

    wow, the zig has started. I think Obama should go toe in toe with these people.
    Karl rove at his best!

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. JO-ANN

    QUESTION:

    IF OBAMA WAS WHITE WOULD ALL OF THIS HATE AND RACISM BE HAPPENNING IN THIS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION?

    I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT IN ANY OTHER ELECTIONS, OH OF COURSE, THIS IS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.....

    WOW....AND THIS IS AMERICA.....

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Serviceman

    And the stupid just keep coming. How about no one over 62 allowed to talk in front of a camera. Oh and for all the bashers on the off shore oil drilling. Heres a FACT for you!!
    Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, signed the executive order in 1990 banning offshore drilling.

    Have a nice day

    Obama/08

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. JaeBeam

    Jesse Jackson is preachier than Obama, almost as preachy as Limbaugh.

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. David Goldman

    BOY, THESE OLD SCUM BAGS ARE COMING OUT

    OF THEIR BIGOT CLOSETS BY THE HUNDREDS.

    MCLAUGHABLE MUST HAVE A FEW MORE FRIENDS

    IN HIS CLOSET.

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. Herman in LA

    Kasey & Magazine ocks July 14th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

    If the shoe fits !………..

    Take that shoe and shove it right where the sun don't shine...

    Now post this cnn...

    July 14, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Rich

    I find it odd how McCain seems to skate whenever he makes a mistake, but all of these news agencies seem to be bringing up race in weird ways against Obama all the time. Even when Obama doesn't make a mistake they seem to invent stuff up (i.e. the Germany speach), when McCain everyday gives them something big to focus on. Now I am not saying the media is against Obama, I think they know that the fall of Obama would make a better story than the fall of McCain. It's like they are toying with us for control.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Saad from NJ

    The best way, in my opinion to handle these type of silly goof-ups, whether intentional or not, is to ignore them completely. Seriously, just ignore the ignorance. Covering these type of stories and giving them exposure does not benefit our society in the long run.

    People who will vote for Obama because of his policy/agenda will do so regardless of these type of stupidities. And those will not, will not vote for him regardless of what he says or does or regardless of whether someone calls him an Oreo or wants to deprive him of the luxury of his private parts.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. carol

    Obama and his followers need to develop a much thicker skin. Obama and the obama gang spend a lot of time in the whine mode. Could turn a close election– no one wants a president who whines.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Windy/Canada

    Thought this USA of a thing is a mature democracy,Jeeeeesus,you guys ain't better than any banana republic.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Rose

    There's no accounting for ignorance.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Jean

    Questions and comments by MEDIA PERSONAL DRIVES DAYS OF DISCUSSION AND FEED THE PSYCI OF THOSE AMERICANS LOOKING FOR IDENTY CLUES. SAD BUT TRUE.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. nobody of importance

    I did not think he was out of line. There are too many people today ready to jump at anything that is said to make a story out of it.

    July 14, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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