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. Chanda Cincinnati Ohio

    And you people blame OBAMA for always bringing up racial issues? Its the racists ididot in this country that bring it up, and Obama tries hi best to stay away from the subject. You are either naive, clueless are simply retarded if you think race does not play an issue in this campaign. Just like there are blacks who are voting for him soley becsue he is black, there are whites not voting for him soley because he is black. If this race does not accomplish but one thing, it has brought the racisim in this country out of the closet. I am hearing the most ridiculous statements from people of all races during this campaign. Now you have this ididot getting on national t.v. calling this man an oreo. How hurtful is that to all the bi-racial people in this country? I am begining to believe that this country will never be able to heal the racial divide, because people are not willing to see things from any perspective other than thier own.

    To Don: I am an African American woman, and I ask that question myself. Does that make me an OREO!!

    To HC Girl: It's okay to make a slight agaisnt obama on a racial nature, but if anyone made a statment against Hillary that was viewed as sexist, then all hell should have broke loose? How is that fair?

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Washington

    It is just so sad when such comments come from an adult.

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Down with Obama

    Obama and his cult followers have played the race card more than anyone!!!! So what goes around, comes around!!! Cry Obama and his cult followers!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. ben

    Former HC Girl July 14th, 2008 12:03 pm ET

    John McLaughlin is so far above doing anything like that. Let's stop all this "can't say anything out of the way" on Obama. I am frankly sick to death of it.
    I watched the show and didn't think it was out of line at all.
    We see where you are coming from but no but thanks. HC should apoligize to you for misleading you for a long time. Next time tell her to carry with her a score card!

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. Robert

    Just how many more insults are to be heaped on Obama? I'm getting really sick fed up with all of this. 'Oreo?' The New York Times cover? Jesse Jackson remarks? Can these morons stick to the issues or is that just too much for them?

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. Carla Janae

    Regardless of the context in which John McLaughlin meant to deliever his "oreo" comment, his is a racist. Comparable to Bill O'Reiley and Don Imus–those who have the power to define others will always use the opportunity to continue to disenfrancise and offend others. John McLaughlin needs to be taken off the air CNN! During the same week the "Black in America" is scheduled to air?! No thanks!

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. OBAMA Supporter all the way

    Are these people loosing their minds?!!!! How ignorant!

    This country needs leadership like Obama more than we know. This type of remarks from people prove it more every day!

    Let's make it happen people. I don't want my child living in a world we he is judged by the color of his skin.

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Anthony

    this is the type of thing that I hate the most. for the record people OBAMA IS BI RACIAL. Most of my family is bi racial I have cousins aunts and uncles that are white. My family is a melting pot and we will be voting for obama no matter what people say

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Nancy of Minnesota

    Today, I'm extremely ashamed of being an American Citizen!!

    July 14, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Rocha Collins Sr

    Plain and simple, "John McLaughlin is a racist and should be fired".

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. Howard, Westport CT

    You know this comment and the New Yorker cover just goes to show America has sooo far to come.
    White Americans should all have "Black Like Me" as mandatory reading. Most white americans couldn't survive one day as a black person, least of all as a black man running for President.
    This just goes to show what a cesspool Washington has turned America into.
    But I will continue trying to make the world and my country into something I can be proud of.

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

    One can expect to hear Oreo on the street and in the scurrilous political conversation that occurs below the radar screen. One does not expect it from a television personality. Shame on you, Mr. McLaughlin

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. IAMWMD

    Man these Republican rednecks are showing their true colors, but there's no mention of John McSame voting against Martin Luther King's holiday. Just reinforces the fact that McSame is the true racist behind all of his friends' in the media's actions.

    Obama 08

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Between this and the New Yorker magazine cover...it astounds me that someone could make such an ignorant statement...no one is "black on the outside and white on the inside"...people are all the same "color" on the inside, except for this old fool, whose insides truly are dark in a very negative sense with hate and vitriol. I wish there was a place to farm out all these old bigoted idiots where they could all be together and let their bitterness kill themselves and each other off...
    OBAMA '08 and '12...YES WE CAN!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. American

    someone please define for me how blacks and whites think differently? Is he saying that only whites can be intelligent?

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Peter E

    How long will Obama pretend to be the downtrodden, kicked-around Civil Rights hero instead of the educated, privileged millionaire that he actually is?
    Obama is NOT the victim of the world, and I'm tired of him bullying people with his guilt-trips. He never even took part in the Civil Rights, nor did he ever have an American slave in his ancetry!

    July 14, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. ken

    That guy has a doctorate? I think NOT!

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. RTB

    Who cares? Grow up.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. Chris

    So Obama should have responded w/ "yo homie dat beez wack." Would he then be some sort of light brown on the outside, chocolate on the inside snack?

    Complete side note, Jesse Jackson has never ever been a civil rights figure of great importance to me (I'm a 28 year old black male). If Obama were to stop campaigning today and drop out of the spotlight I believe that he's done more for "the movement" than any post 60's era civil rights movement individual. He's bringing issues and discussion points to the table that will make America take a hard look at itself... The rest is up to the people.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Rodney Hopper

    McLaughlin's comments were bad enough, but Roland Martin – "Is he black enough?" Seriously? And for Martin to qualify McLaughlin's remarks by saying that since Obama is half-white, it's ok. Give me a break. You're better than that Roland.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. larry

    Whew this is goign to be a long nasty and ignorant campaign but we will survive it. I am just glad to have it. fFlks will learn alot about themselves and others this summer and fall.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Og

    John McLaughlin was simply addressing a politically-important issue generated by Jesse Jackson and other critics of Obama. John did not endorse the Oreo concept and he certainly did not invent it.

    I watched the show. Michelle Bernard, who is black, picked up on the Oreo theme to criticize the old generation of blacks like Jesse Jackson who use it against Obama, not to criticize John for bringing up the topic (as the CNN report implies).

    Whites do not have a monopoly on racism. Some Blacks are prejudiced against other blacks who have darker (or lighter) skins. Some Blacks are prejudiced against other blacks who seem to have intellects or behaviors stereotyped as white. Some blacks are prejudiced against Latinos.

    All of this has real impact at the polls, just as much as white prejudice against blacks would have, and political analysts from John should not shrink away from hard-hitting analysis of the effects of this reality. Neither Obama nor Jackson nor the black community are immune from the same examination of dirty laundry that applies to the rest of us.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Jackson

    John McLaughlin has always been just another old baffoon seething with hostility.

    July 14, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Robert NYC & Miami


    July 14, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. George from Minneapolis

    Obama is far from an oreo.

    July 14, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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