Harry Reid, the media, and double standards

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Earlier this morning on MSNBC, Norah O'Donnell picked up the GOP spin about "double-standards," asking Rev. Al Sharpton what the reaction would be if a Republican had made the comments Sen. Harry Reid is reported to have made about Barack Obama being "light-skinned" and lacking a "Negro dialect."

But as The American Prospect's Adam Serwer pointed out this morning, while Reid's choice of words was unfortunate, the substance of Reid's purported comments was not particularly unusual:

The raw political calculation Reid made here was also one Americans of all races were making. I always knew that someday it would be embarrassing that the press spent 2007 and 2008 hosting panels of white people discussing the political implications of Obama's racial authenticity -- or lack thereof -- but I never imagined that we'd all decide to pretend it never happened.

Indeed, throughout 2007, the question of whether Obama was "black enough" -- or "too black" -- was a common one among the news media. If MSNBC is interested in the topic of double-standards, they should devote some air-time to examining what their own colleagues were saying at the time Reid purportedly made his comments. And they should devote a segment or two to the fact that MSNBC employs Pat Buchanan, and gave him a platform from which to marvel that Barack Obama is "not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago."

UPDATE: MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall is now discussing Reid's comments in the context of the broader conversation that was happening in the media in 2006/2007, for which she deserves credit.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Norah O'Donnell, Pat Buchanan
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