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. Jeff

    Oh for heavens sake. Look at what McLaughlin said! Any thinking person who takes offense to that remark has just gone round the bend. This is just getting absurd.

    July 14, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Jackie OHio

    Oh My GOD !!!!!!!!! Oh its pk for Obamas wife to call white people CRAKER but to try and explain OREO!!!!!! People have the right to speak freely in america. or was that the old america that Obama wants to change because I am still trying to figure the CHANGE out !!!!
    Obama can not have it both ways. Didnt a comedian just the other days refure to his black sisters as ho's see its ok if a Black person uses words about other black or white but let a white person use those words and all HELL brakes lose!!!! Oh didn't a Radio host lose his job for using the Ho's word? think about it America is Obama running for ALL AMERICANS or a SELECTED FEW!!!!!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Mary

    It is essential for young generation to stand up agianist all the smear some of the old folks are smearing against Obama. After all he is fighting for our generation to have a better future. Old generations like McCain and McLaughlin just don't get it They don't care if our generation is left in disaster becasue they are too old to care about the future of this and the following generations. Our time is now. If we don't stand up now when will we? perhaps 30-50 years from now we will be angry at the next generation for striving to live in a better world while ours is long due. That is exactly what is happening to people like Mclaughlin. bitter, angry, and upset that someone from somewhere like Obama is trying to make America a more better place for our generation and the next to come

    July 14, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Michael

    I watched this show yesterday and I understood exactly the point the guy was making. I'm a 35 yr. old black man and i didn't find it offensive at all because i understood the entire context of what he was saying. And he has a pretty valid point.

    July 14, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Peter E

    Obama needs to stop pretedning to be a victim of a 'vast right-wing conspiracy.' It didn't suit Clinton either, it sure doesn't suit him.
    He's a privileged, educated millionaire. And a pretentious one at that!

    July 14, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Amit NYC

    John McLaughlin is an idiot who thinks he knows what he is talking about but is just yapping crap most of the time. It is not a secret that he is totally anti-obama because of his age and color. McLaughlin is the past and is irrelevant at this point.

    July 14, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |

    I'm an Oreo ... and everyone of my friends is an Oreo. I've tire of people who suggesting that "Oreos" are not black. If you embrace that thinking, you need to re-examine yourselves.

    Black does not equal .... Lazy, Uneducated, Incarcerated, Poor, Slovenly, Violent, Criminal, Absentee Fathers, Thug-like, Gangsta rap lovin',

    All those Oreos with Phd, masters degrees, bachelors degrees are black. All those Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Penn, Berkley, Northwestern, USC, Stanford, Princeton Oreo graduates are black.

    It does seem as though society in general wants to put the African American born of US born black parents in the substandard bin of humanity. Well, sorry guys, that isn't true. Barack and Michele both have the intellect and fortitude to be achievers.

    Very few of us African Americans are completely lacking white blood in this country. In that sense, we are no different than society's image of Barack (with a black African father & white American monther) or his progeny Sasha and Malia ( who are probably more than 25% white). So loose the idea that the only thing good in us is the white bloodline and that the American black bloodline is bad.

    This fallacy probably has helped Barack get this far in politics but I, for one, will never HATE ON HIM for it.


    July 14, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. galveston

    I find it repulsive that in the 21st century, it's still thought of as "white" to be successful and to be responsible for the children you father. What does that say about people's attitudes? That they're repulsive and bigoted. Shame on white AND BLACK people who believe it.

    July 14, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Just wondering

    Does Barack Obama have a soul?

    July 14, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. CHRIS

    Who cares what color he is on the inside or the outside? Obama doesn't have the experience needed to be a solid leader. Plain and simple.

    Now, enough bashing of white people because they use derogatory terms...because when blacks use them, there's not a peep from the NAACP or anyone else.

    Until the NAACP, Jesse, or Al comment on the derogatory terms and the racism spouted from the mouths of the thugs who spit out rap lyrics, then they're just a bunch of hypocrites that smart people don't take seriously any longer.

    July 14, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Shannon

    Educated black people can't win in America. People want all African Americans to fit the "angry black man stereotype", or the "angry cynical black woman stereotype"

    African Americans who don't "conform" and act like that stereotype, and have the nerve to be educated and speak proper English, and have goals and aspirations for themselves and their families are said to be "acting white" People want all black people to be crooks and criminals, and speak with poor English, have lots of babies out of wedlock. Heaven forbid African Americans should actually get an education, get married, raise a family, and be successful.


    July 14, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. La Chatte, Portland, OR

    Hahahahahahahah! It's all coming back to bite poor little whiny Bambi on the...

    July 14, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Dave

    So, here we go again. He was clearly explaining the use of a derogatory term. He was not calling Obama an "oreo." Its this pulling quotes out of context by political groups and television networks because they know what sells in a basically undereducated society.

    July 14, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. H. Charles

    Let's also be clear on something. Racism in this country was started by whites. If there was no racism to begin with, then there would be no reverse racism. It doesn't make any sense to say that someone is playing the race card as if to say that we just imagined all of the injustice that is a part, past and present, of this country. If you are truly against racism then you would speak out against it or do something about it. Don't complain. Make it better.

    July 14, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Marsh

    McLaughlin is from an era where any black man who was articulate, educated, and had possessed "main stream American" views, was often labeled an "Oreo". Blacks have used the expression too.

    The phrase is a remant of the past and, like Mr McLaughlin talk show, has no relevance in today's society.

    July 14, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Rob

    and again, everyboyd screeming how racist everybody is....wow, amazing... Barack is black, so what is the issue??? we all know that...just noone said it before...

    Rob from NC

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Josh Maloney, Oakland, CA

    McLaughlin is an idiot. Enough said.

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Lady

    First of all, I believe that McLaughlin has the right to express how he feels in this politic. And though not many people view it as a fair thing to say/do, freedom of speech still applies.

    Okay, so from what I've read in all these comments, nearly every single one is flaming John McLaughlin for what he has done. Look around you, people. This kind of racial comment exists all around, and really, instead of posting angry comments on the internet...Do something about it. Posting angry comments is not going to solve anything.

    Truthfully, America is falling.

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Matthew

    There's nothing ignorant about this statement and people need to stop overreacting to every little thing said about Obama.

    Look at McLaughlin's words: "fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo."

    He's not calling him an "Oreo" but rather saying he fits the stereotype of a man that blacks would have once called an "Oreo." He then uses the term to pose a legitimate question on Jesse Jackson given Jackson's recent comments. Anyone who thinks John McLaughlin is calling Barack Obama an "Oreo" is an idiot or just wants to make something out of nothing.

    This is how John McLaughlin always poses questions to his panel regardless of the topic up for debate. Anyone who is getting worked up obviously doesn't watch The McLaughlin Group.

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  20. Christie

    Between the fact that this was even reported, to reading a lot of the comments on this article-I realize why this country is in so much trouble. He didn't call him a derogatory name, he just made reference to a derogatory name used by black folks when commenting on someone not being "black" enough-as if there is or has ever been a litmus test for that. Between this and the New Yorker magazine cover flap-either we spend too much time being racist or trying to fix any type of racial anything-and all we look to the rest of the world is stupid. and like a very smart comic once said-you can't fix stupid.

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Mindy

    It just amazes me how STUPID people can be! Shame on him!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. semperllc

    What doesnt cause outrage now-a-days?

    July 14, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. Margery Regan

    I saw that show. There was nothing racist or offensive about the question or the use of the term oreo. For heaven's sake people–get a life!!!

    July 14, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. rexx

    This is so obvious. CNN and other "news outlets" and the New Yorker Mag are trying to gain pity for Obama that somehow he is a "victim" of unfair and vicious attacks. The truth is the people from the New Yorker are big time Left wing supporters of Obama. It isn't McCain or any other Republican doing this it is the Left and a pitiful attempt it is. My argument and most of my fellow Republicans arguments against Obama are based on the fact that he is too far to the Left and he has no experience.

    July 14, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. Scott S.

    The Obama camp is upset because this shows the idiot in his true light. If this country is smart, and I have my doubts, they would not place a non-God fearing, non USA loving man in office.
    This would most definitely be the beginning of the end for this country.

    Greenville, SC

    July 14, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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