CNN's Foreman falsely suggested Rangel's attack on Obama over race issue "still being flung"

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

In his report on a "cease-fire" between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over the issue of Clinton's recent comments on civil rights, CNN's Tom Foreman falsely suggested that an attack on Obama by Rep. Charlie Rangel was "still being flung." But Foreman did not mention that Rangel, who asserted that the reason "race got into this thing [campaign] is because Obama said race," had earlier expressed "regret" for "essentially pouring gasoline on the fire" at a time when Clinton was "essentially declaring a cease-fire," as Norah O'Donnell put it.

During a CNN report on a "cease-fire" between Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (IL) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY) over the issue of Clinton's recent comments on civil rights, correspondent Tom Foreman falsely suggested that an attack on Obama by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was "still being flung." In the report, which first aired during the January 15 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Foreman reported: "The truce flags are out in the racially heated war of words between Obama and Clinton," adding, "A few charges are still being flung and denied." Foreman then aired Rangel's assertion, made during an interview on NY1 News' Inside City Hall -- taped on January 10 -- that the reason "race got into this thing [campaign] is because Obama said race." But Foreman did not mention that, earlier that day, during the 3 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, Rangel had expressed, in anchor Norah O'Donnell's words, "regret" for "essentially pouring gasoline on the fire" at a time when Clinton was "essentially declaring a cease-fire." Foreman's report also aired during the 11 a.m. ET hour of the January 16 edition of CNN Newsroom, also without any reference to Rangel's subsequent apology.

As Media Matters for America documented, in a January 7 interview, Fox News political correspondent Major Garrett asked Clinton if she would react to a portion of a quote from Obama: "False hopes? ... Dr. King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument: 'Sorry, guys. False hope. The dream will die. It can't be done.' " Clinton then said:

CLINTON: I would point to the fact that that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality. The power of that dream became real in people's lives because we had a president who said, "We are going to do it," and actually got it accomplished.

When asked about the comment during her January 13 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Clinton stated that Dr. King "understood that he had to move the political process and bring in those who were in political power, and he campaigned for political leaders, including Lyndon Johnson, because he wanted somebody in the White House who would act on what he had devoted his life to achieving." She added: "Clearly, we know from media reports that the Obama campaign is deliberately distorting this." Responding to Clinton's Meet the Press statement on the same day, Obama told reporters: "Look, the, Sen. Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson." He added: "I didn't make the statement. I haven't remarked on it. And she, I think, offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King's role in bringing about the civil rights act. She is free to explain that. But the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous."

In a January 15 telephone interview with O'Donnell, which aired during the 3 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live, Rangel expressed, in O'Donnell's words, "regret" for "essentially pouring gasoline on the fire" at a time when Clinton was "essentially declaring a cease-fire":

O'DONNELL: Congressman Charlie Rangel joins me now on the phone. And Congressman, you essentially said that Obama is "stupid" and "dumb." Do you regret making those remarks?

RANGEL: Well, if that was the implication, you bet your life I would regret it. I'm saying, though, that there's no connection between racism and the statement that was made, and that is that Dr. King has done a great job in creating an atmosphere which pushed President Johnson to sign the 1964 Voting Rights Act, and that he wouldn't have done it without King, and that King himself could not have signed the act into law because --

O'DONNELL: But Barack Obama never said that, Congressman. Barack Obama never said that Dr. King signed the act into law.

RANGEL: Well, what he did say -- that he was baffled that a statement could be made indicating that the law would not have been possible without President Johnson signing it. And I was responding to the video of Barack saying it.

O'DONNELL: But Congressman, you may not have known this 'cause you were on the air making these comments at the time, but Senator Clinton, who you support, was essentially declaring a cease-fire and you were essentially pouring gasoline on the fire --

RANGEL: Well, that's the last thing --

O'DONNELL: I mean, do you regret that?

RANGEL: That's the -- you bet your life I do, because I really don't believe that, as proud as I am, that my country and party has elevated a woman and an African-American to presidency, if there's anything that I can erase, swallow, wish it didn't happen so that we can get on with the important issues, that's where I'd like to be.

From the January 15 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

FOREMAN: The truce flags are out in the racially heated war of words between Obama and Clinton. A few charges are still being flung and denied.

RANGEL: How race got into this thing is because Obama said race.

FOREMAN: But both camps seem to have concluded they have too much to lose if racial tensions define their contest, especially in South Carolina. Half of the Democrats there are African-American, and they are split between Clinton and Obama, with John Edwards, who won the state last time, barely getting a nod from African-Americans. Obama is rising because more black voters know about him now and because he won a lot of white votes up north, according to the Voter Education Project's Jim Felder.

FELDER: And so, here, people began to focus and say, "Well, listen, if he can win in a state like Iowa and come in close in New Hampshire, then maybe I ought to give him a second look and maybe he can pull this thing off after all."

FOREMAN: Black Americans, however, helped Bill Clinton into the White House, Hillary Clinton into the Senate, and the couple remains popular in African-American communities. So some influential black leaders are saying she is more electable and will do more for minorities.

Against that backdrop, it's easy to see why both sides want to tread gently on the issue of race. Clinton cannot afford to chase away her older, traditional black supporters. Obama cannot afford to turn off his younger, nontraditional white backers.

And the party cannot afford to alienate all the new interest Obama is generating.

At the University of South Carolina, Blease Graham.

BLEASE GRAHAM (University of South Carolina political science professor): He's attracting a newer generation of voter, and that has to be party-building. And that has, in certain ways, to define the future of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, if not other parts of the country.

FOREMAN: So, like most cease-fires that work, everyone has something to gain from this one, at least for now -- or until the next shot is fired.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Tom Foreman
Show/Publication
Anderson Cooper 360
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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