To hear the media talk about it, President Obama has a serious dilemma: On the one hand, the public wants to see the president express more anger about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. On the other hand, it’s bad politics for the nation’s first black president to come off as an “angry black man.”
An article on the CNN Web site Wednesday displayed little doubt as to which way the president should go.
“The risk of being an ‘angry black man’,” read the headline, and underneath, the caption: “Scholars say history has shown that African-American men can frighten white people if they display too much anger.”
That must have ruffled some feathers at CNN, because, as Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer notes, the Web site quickly changed the caption to read, “Who would have ever expected some white Americans to demand that an African-American man show more rage?”
For some media critics, that second attempt was just as bad as the first.
“I know, who would have ever expected that, from us white Americans who normally would be so damn scared of an angry African-American man. ‘New era’ indeed,” quips Krakauer.
“Most people tuned into the racism still threaded within the American quilt know that Barack Obama has much less leeway to show anger than if he were white,” writes Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend. “It’s how the cookie crumbles. It’s not surprising that when the MSM tries to approach this subject, it does a double-dip FAIL in the editorial bullpen.”
It all began with President Obama’s comment to NBC’s Matt Lauer that he is trying to find out “whose ass to kick” for the BP oil spill. Conservative news aggregator Matt Drudge linked to the story under the headline “Obama goes street,” setting off a stormy debate about whether the president is being racially stereotyped when he displays anger.
“Can a black politician express outrage without being labeled an angry black man?” Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Wednesday.
NPR news analyst Juan Williams responded by calling the Drudge headline “edgy” and declined to label it as racist. Williams told Kelly that it’s Obama’s responsibility to make sure that others don’t stereotype him.
After listing a series of negative stereotypes about black males, Williams said Obama “needs to stay away from that. Obviously most American voters are white, and they want to be able to relate to their president.”
“This has nothing to do with race, absolutely nothing to do with race,” said Fox contributor Deneen Borelli. “This has to do with the fact that Obama is incapable of handling a crisis, plain and simple. The American people want to see leadership, period. They don’t want to see him going on vacation with the biggest disaster in American history [underway].”
This video is from Fox News’ America Live, broadcast June 9, 2010.