Krauthammer: Scalise Speech Not Comparable to Obama's Racist Reverend Wright Ties

In the aftermath of third ranking House Republican Steve Scalise’s scandal regarding a meeting with a white nationalist group, Fox News Special Report panelist Charles Krauthammer noted a seemingly obvious double standard. While Scalise is being hit hard – and justifiably so – by the media for his actions, President Obama largely was excused for sitting in on Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s racist, anti-American sermons.

Krauthammer criticized the fact that Scalise is being held accountable “for a single event 12 years ago,” but the President spent over two decades at Rev. Wright’s church and the liberal media gave him a pass. He added that he didn’t “even think it’s comparable.”

Guest host Ed Henry mentioned the late Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, who had an infamous history with the KKK:

And someone who was known as the conscience of the Senate was Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, I interviewed him many times. Very amiable fellow but had been a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, a long time ago, long before he was in the Senate. Not just Democrats but Republicans said, you know, they had largely moved on.

Krauthammer agreed it was “implausible” that Scalise didn’t know the group he was meeting with had white supremacist origins, saying it was “pretty clear.” However, he emphasized that the scale of the event paled in comparison to President Obama’s history with Jeremiah Wright:

[T]here is not a shred of evidence that there is anything in the intervening 12 years which would indicate any evidence of racism, hostility or ill will or anything of this nature. Which means it would be a single event 12 years ago. Given the absence of that sort in the 12 years, I think it's a pretty drastic thing to demand that he step down. I think that Steve is right that there is a terrible double standard. Barack Obama didn't wander into Jeremiah Wright's church one time 12 years ago. He sat in it for 22 years as the man who is a racist raved against America and talked about 9/11 being chickens coming home to roost.

While Scalise’s actions were clearly reprehensible, Krauthammer makes an important point about the media’s double standard and their interest in protecting liberal politicians.

The relevant portion of the transcript is below.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, Fox News contributor: It's the worst timing, and I think if Scalise wanted to make it easy for his party, he would have just stepped down on his own from leadership. Nobody is demanding that he leave the Congress or that his career is over. And I would see it – it probably would be seen as a temporary step, it wouldn’t be a life sentence.

[…]

But he didn't and the House speaker is now behind him and he's stuck with him. Look, this happened 12 years ago. It is possible, but implausible that he really didn't know who these guys were. After all, the name of the organization is the Euro American Unity and Rights Organization. Pretty clear.

ED HENRY, guest host: Charles, before I covered the Senate – before I covered the White House, I covered the Senate for a long time. And someone who was known as the conscience of the Senate was Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, I interviewed him many times. Very amiable fellow but had been a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan, a long time ago, long before he was in the Senate. Not just Democrats but Republicans said, you know, they have largely moved on. What say you about that?

KRAUTHAMMER: And the reason is that in the time in between, Byrd has acted decently, he reached out, he obviously had changed his views. I think the key question here is not just that this happened 12 years ago, but as far as I can tell, there is not a shred of evidence that there is anything in the intervening 12 years which would indicate any evidence of racism, hostility or ill will or anything of this nature. Which means it would be a single event 12 years ago.

Given the absence of that sort in the 12 years, I think it's a pretty drastic thing to demand that he step down. I think that Steve is right that there is a terrible double standard. Barack Obama didn't wander into Jeremiah Wright's church one time 12 years ago. He sat in it for 22 years as the man who is a racist raved against America and talked about 9/11 being chickens coming home to roost.

HENRY: So if there is guilt by association, it’s gonna be difficulties for both parties?

KRAUTHAMMER: There should be, and I don’t even think it’s comparable. I do think as a political issue, Scalise might have just stepped aside. But given that he hasn't, the Republicans are stuck with this, which is unfortunate, they're going to get hit over this a few times, but I can't see how they change their minds now.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.