CBS Uses Ferguson to Lament Burdens on Obama Regarding Race Relations

The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley used the conclusion of its Tuesday night broadcast to lament and highlight the instances in which President Barack Obama has commented on the issue of race and how the events in Ferguson, Missouri have “tested once more” the President who has “willingly shouldered the burden of a nation fractured along racial lines” despite his “unrealistic expectations of healing” these divisions.

The report by CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett included numerous clips of Obama commenting on race, beginning with his speech in March 2008 as a presidential candidate on race following the uncovering of videos of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, making his infamous and inflammatory comments. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

As a presidential candidate, Garrett fretted that the President had high expectations for his presidency in terms of healing race relations only to have him be “tested” multiple times:

Visualizing a less-divided country, encouraging a more candid conversation about America's legacy of racism. He offered himself as a President who could lead that conversation, and there's been no shortage of events testing that promise or the President's leadership. 

Garrett’s nearly three-minute-long story wove from his candidacy in 2008 to the grand jury decision in Ferguson on Monday night. On the event in July 2009 in which Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested, the President commented “bluntly” that the police had “acted stupidly” and this event, Garrett concluded, “taught Mr. Obama the limits of his own rhetoric and symbolic power.”

Following a mention of the Trayvon Martin case from 2012 and Obama’s numerous statements on the issue, Garrett described his comments at the White House Monday night as “markedly tempered rhetoric” that “mix[ed] deference to the judicial process with sympathy for the public outrage.”

In wrapping up the segment, Garrett concluded: 

America's first black President has willingly shouldered the burden of a nation fractured along racial lines. An example of genuine racial progress himself, Mr. Obama carries the unrealistic expectations of healing that divide, a President with a singular perspective is tested once more. 

The complete transcript of the segment that aired on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on November 25 is transcribed below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
November 25, 2014
6:55 p.m. Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY: In his address last night, President Obama said America has made enormous progress on race relations over the past several decades. Many would say the best evidence of that is the President himself. He is, of course, in a unique position to address the race issue, and here's Major Garrett. 

THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BARACK OBAMA [ON 03/18/08]: In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging what that what ails the African-American community ask not just exist in the minds of black people. 

MAJOR GARRETT: That was candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Visualizing a less-divided country, encouraging a more candid conversation about America's legacy of racism. He offered himself as a President who could lead that conversation, and there's been no shortage of events testing that promise or the President's leadership. When Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard professor and friend, was suspected of burglarizing his own home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from the White House, the President was blunt. 

OBAMA [ON 07/22/09]: The Cambridge Police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. There is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact. 

GARRETT: The President was accused of commenting prematurely. The resulting beer summit fiasco between Gates and the police officer taught Mr. Obama the limits of his own rhetoric and symbolic power. Then came Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed by a neighborhood watchman in 2012. The President interjected more than once. 

OBAMA [ON 03/23/12]: But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. [ON 07/19/13] Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. 

GARRETT: The shooting death of Michael Brown introduced new caution. Mr. Obama used markedly tempered rhetoric last night, mixing deference to the judicial process with sympathy for the public outrage. 

OBAMA [ON 11/24/14]: We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. It's an understandable reaction. 

GARRETT: America's first black President has willingly shouldered the burden of a nation fractured along racial lines. An example of genuine racial progress himself, Mr. Obama carries the unrealistic expectations of healing that divide, a President with a singular perspective is tested once more. Major Garrett, CBS News, the White House. 

Crime Race Issues Racism Ferguson CBS CBS Evening News Obama Watch President Barack Obama President Obama Henry Louis Gates Jr. Michael Brown Scott Pelley Major Garrett Trayvon Martin Barack Obama
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