"Gunny" Bob repeated conservative smear that Obama's pastor "spews racist hate"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

"Gunny" Bob Newman of Newsradio 850 KOA echoed other conservative commentators by smearing Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) church. On his August 13 show, Newman asserted that Wright "spews racist hate from the pulpit on a ... regular basis," and he accused Obama of "supporting a racist."

On his August 13 show, Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (IL) is "supporting a racist" -- a reference to Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is the pastor of Obama's church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In asserting that "Wright spews racist hate from the pulpit on a very, very regular basis," Newman repeated a conservative smear that has been used to attack Obama.

Continuing his pattern of hyping dubious Obama "scandals," Newman asserted without substantiation that the senator was "under more and more fire" for his support of Wright.

From the August 13 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Gunny Bob Show:

NEWMAN: Barack Obama under more and more fire for vigorously supporting and refusing to -- the, well, supporting Reverend Jeremiah Wright from the Trinity United Church of Christ in, on South Side of Chicago. That's Obama's church. Wright spews racist hate from the pulpit on a very, very regular basis. And Obama won't walk away from the guy. Saying, "No, I, I, I support him." Well, interesting. You're supporting a racist. Very, very interesting.

Newman's attack on Wright echoed one that co-host Sean Hannity made on the June 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. As Media Matters for America noted, Hannity accused Wright of holding "these black-separatist views, about the Black Value System." Additionally, Hannity stated on the February 28 edition that "many" call Trinity "separatist," adding that the church "in some cases, even draw[s] comparisons to a cult." His guest on the February 28 show, Fort Collins Coloradoan columnist Erik Rush, likened the Black Value System Trinity advocates to "something that you'd see in more like a cult or an Aryan Brethren Church or something like that," as Colorado Media Matters noted.

Similarly, reading from a column by Rush that appeared in the conservative New Media Journal the same day, Fox News Radio 600 KCOL host Scott James on his April 10 show repeated Rush's contention that Trinity is "about a black separatist movement more than it is Jesus Christ."

On its website, Trinity refers to itself as "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian" and states that among the "Black Ethics" to be taught as part of the "Black Value System" is that God "will give us the strength" to become "soldiers for Black freedom and the dignity of all humankind."

As Media Matters noted, Wright explained in a March 1 appearance on Hannity & Colmes that Trinity's philosophy does not "assume superiority, nor does it assume separatism." He continued:

We have no hierarchical arrangement. When you say an African-centered way of thinking -- African-centered philosophy, African-centered theology -- you're talking about one center. We're talking about something that's different, and different does not mean deficient, nor does it mean superior or inferior.

Media Matters further pointed out that in response to such conservative criticisms, the Trinity website has been updated with "talking points" regarding its teachings, which include this statement: "To have a church whose theological perspective starts from the vantage point of Black liberation theology being its center, is not to say that African or African American people are superior to anyone else."

Moreover, a February 6 Chicago Tribune article (registration required) reported that the church's "value system" was adopted in 1981 to hold "black Christians accountable for taking care of their own and for continuing to fight oppression." In an interview, Obama reportedly told the Tribune, "If I say to anybody in Iowa -- white, black, Hispanic or Asian -- that my church believes in the African-American community strengthening families or adhering to the black work ethic or being committed to self-discipline and self-respect and not forgetting where you came from, I don't think that's something anybody would object to. I think I'd get a few amens."

Addressing conservative criticism of the value system, Obama also reportedly told the Tribune, "Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect. ... Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement." He added, "So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.