NBC host Norah O'Donnell is taking it from all angles for pulling the race card on Newt Gingrich last Friday.
Speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Gingrich said "shooting three-point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work,” referring to President Obama's basketball skills. Norah O'Donnell embarrassed herself Friday by claiming the comment had racial undertones.
Since then, commentators on the left and right have criticized O'Donnell's race-baiting. Bill O'Reilly and Juan Williams have both condemned her remark, and Gingrich himself has repudiated the accusation.
"The left is becoming a parody of itself," Gingrich said Tuesday morning. He added that "it's relatively hard to go from 'we need someone who is a good president more than we need three point shots' to" racism.
(h/t to Mediaite for the video.)
O'Reilly blasted O'Donnell on his Monday evening "Talking Points Memo" segment. He said that the racism charge "is destructive to the country. There are enough legitimate issues to debate without degenerating into personal attacks, especially where racism is invoked."
During the same episode of the "Factor," O'Reilly asked Juan Williams, an African American contributor to NPR and the Washington Post, about O'Donnell's comment. Williams let loose:
Here is the serious point, Bill. This is an example by Norah O'Donnell of crying wolf. And when do you that with regard to race, then people who come along with serious racial concerns about racial inequities in this society that still exist, they can't have a conversation. Suddenly you say "no you are always talking about race. We are sick of race. We don't want to hear about race." That's what happens when you use it cheaply.
And the second thing to say is, guess what? There are lots of people in the black community who think President Obama should be doing more about the high rate of unemployment in the black community. That's -- so for him, for them to say "oh, he is shooting baskets, instead of paying attention to the economy," you might get the same criticism from several people out of several people the black community today who want him to do more to address high rates of unemployment.
In other words, Gingrich's point is completely valid, and O'Donnell needs to put away the race card. Please.
O'Reilly, for his part, also noted that he has become wary of even covering events revolving around black people or the black community. He told Williams,
In a serious vein -- and we talked about this with the infamous Sylvia’s deal a few years ago -- I, and many other white journalists, now don’t do nearly as many reports on African Americans or their problems because we don’t want to be put in a situation where our opinion is taken out of contest, rammed down our throat as Media Matters and all these other sleazeoids do. If it’s a big thing or optional thing, I’m not doing it anymore.
O'Donnell's accusations cheapen the political discourse not only by distilling meaningful objections down to base bigotry, but by discouraging discourse in the first place.