On CNN 'It's Difficult to Criticize a Black President' But It's Easy to Use N-ggerhead to Attack Herman Cain

October 3rd, 2011 12:49 PM

CNN on Sunday doubled down on the Washington Post-made controversy "Niggerhead" involving Rick Perry by doing a second "CNN Newsroom" segment on the subject this time using the issue to attack Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain as well.

Putting a fine point on the absurdity on display, host Don Lemon concluded the piece with a discussion about how "it's difficult to criticize a black president" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DON LEMON, HOST: The only black Republican candidate for president is taking on the man many consider the leading candidate, all over a word. "The Washington Post" is reporting today that Texas Governor Rick Perry once leased a hunting camp that had the word nigger painted on a rock at its entrance, it was niggerhead, that's what the word was, the name of that camp. Well, "The Post" reports that witnesses say the word was not removed for years while Perry visited the place. Perry says "That is inaccurate," but his opponent Herman Cain says Perry showed a "lack of sensitivity for not removing the "n" word sooner."

Joining me now Goldie Taylor, editor at large at Grio.com and independent political analyst, joins me. Goldie, this is very interesting. So can you can say that Cain is taking a stand against Perry on the "n" word. It's a negative for Cain. Why do you say that? Explain.


LEMON: A negative for Cain?

TAYLOR: When you're in a GOP primary, that is not the place to talk about biases of any kind. If you are the candidate that the people are using to assuage any guilt or assuage any conversation they would not want to have about race, far be it from you to launch an attack on someone else in the race as being insensitive or even racist.

LEMON: OK. I get what you're saying. So as an African-American candidate, he can't really talk about race the same way Mitt Romney can't talk about Mormonism.

TAYLOR: Same way Mitt ROMNEY: can't talk about Mormonism -

LEMON: Or even really respond to it.

TAYLOR: Or even really respond to it.

So, an African-American candidate can't talk about race?

Then why did virtually every news outlet in the nation including CNN gush and fawn over Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's March 18, 2008, speech on race in Philadelphia?

For his part, Lemon wasn't at all offended by this back then as he had several guests on "CNN Newsroom" to adoringly discuss the "historic" event.

Yet over two and a half years later, a black candidate "can't really talk about race?"

TAYLOR: So Herman Cain is really in a tight corner here. How does he not react to something, you know, so vile, so despicable, and then how does he react in a way that doesn't offend the GOP base? You know, today the GOP is largely controlled, you know, by southern white males. The last thing they want to talk about is race in America.

LEMON: So he has to be careful. All right. Cain has been in the thick of it this week. He took a lot of heat about a statement that he made on CNN. Take a listen.


HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it's just brainwashing and people not being open- minded, pure and simple.


LEMON: All right. And that set off another guest, Cornell Belcher, a political analyst for CNN.


CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: If I came on your show, Anderson, and I said, all Jews, Jewish people are brainwashed, I probably wouldn't be invited back to CNN. What Herman Cain said was a racist, bigoted statement, and it should be treated like a racist and bigoted person who makes racist and bigoted statements.


LEMON: All right. What's your take on Cain's brainwashing comment? Is it racist?

TAYLOR: I think, if anything - he's not racist, but he's out of touch. This has less to do with African-Americans being so-called brainwashed as it does with generational party alignment. Back in the late '60s when the civil rights act was passed, it was done by a democratic president. African-Americans and others have routinely rewarded people in the White House and the party who they see as advancing their gains.


Not surprisingly, Taylor didn't mention - nor did Lemon - that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only passed because Republicans ended a Democrat filibuster in the Senate. This landmark piece of legislation never would have gotten enacted without Republican support, but media members typically ignore this inconvenient truth.

Sunday on CNN was no different:

TAYLOR: So that's what happened in the '60s. And then Nixon came along with the southern strategy, and that solidified dixiecrats over into the Republican Party and African-Americans stayed democratic for the next several generations.

LEMON: Dixiecrats, I haven't heard that in a long time. Yes.

Actually, it wouldn't be at all surprising if Lemon wasn't aware that the Dixiecrats were racist southern Democrats. That inconvenient truth also got glossed over in this discussion:

TAYLOR: Dixiecrats. And what did Republicans do? They doubled down on the southern strategy. It was successful for them and this. They have gained governorships, they have gained state houses, they have gained U.S. Senate seats and congressional seats. It's been a real winner for them. So why backtrack now.

LEMON: And on this topic, you have been observing a trend that's happening online right now, and it links Cain with Uncle Ruckus from the Boondocks.

TAYLOR: I have.

LEMON: Just like this. There it is on Youtube. That's how he looks like. Explain this and what it may tell you about public opinion of Herman Cain.

TAYLOR: Well, first of all, I've seen this an awful lot. I've seen it in the public. I've seen it on social networks. You know, I'm very much familiar with the Boondocks cartoon. This particularly instance is as deplorable as the Niggerhead content being painted on a rock in front of Rick Perry's Rock Club.

But for Cain, he is seen in this race as the grand accommodator, much like Booker T. Washington was seen as that at the turn of the century. And so to accommodate those people who would not see the advancement of African-Americans or participate in the advancement of African-Americans is a very bad thing for him. And for him to come out and say that I, Herman Cain, because I am black, I can gain 30 percent of the African-American vote is outright fantastical.

So Cain is borderline racist for thinking blacks are brainwashed by Democrats, but it is "outright fantastical" for him to claim he's going to get 30 percent of the black vote. Neither Lemon nor his guest noticed the irony:

LEMON: Right. I asked him about that and I asked him about race when I saw him at the Iowa straw poll, and got a lot of comments, "I can't believe you asked him about race because he's a black man." And it's like -

TAYLOR: Herman Cain has talked more about race than anybody.

LEMON: There you go.

Herman Cain has talked more about race than anybody? More than Obama and his media minions including those present on this soundstage?

Hardly. But next up was the really delicious hypocrisy:

LEMON: You know, our last conversation, we talked about leaders, African-Americans and African-American leaders criticizing the president. You know, the first thing, this is very interesting, I was in L.A. for the trial of Michael Jackson. The first thing Joe Jackson said to me is like, "Why are you getting on President Obama? Why are you going after President Obama?" I said, I'm a reporter, not an advocate, I'm just doing the report. What does that say? Does that sort of prove the point that it's difficult to criticize a black president?

Lemon's a reporter, not an advocate? He's made it quite clear since coming out of the closet that he's a gay advocate.

More importantly, his two reports concerning N-ggerhead fully demonstrated his advocacy for the current White House resident typified by him asking, "Does that sort of prove the point that it's difficult to criticize a black president?"

This entire segment was specifically designed to attack a black Republican candidate. To end it with a discussion on how difficult it is to criticize a black president was the height of hypocrisy:

TAYLOR: Is it difficult to criticize and African-American president? We are the kind of people who will circle the wagons no matter what the criticism is, you know, whether it's valid or not valid, and you'll see a lot more of that play out as this election wears on.

LEMON: It's amazing. It's just amazing to me, because people, I think, forget that we are not advocates, we are journalists and we have to report on the news.

TAYLOR: We ought to be. As people we ought to be about looking about all interests no matter who is in the White House.

LEMON: Thank you very much, Goldie. Always a great conversation. Appreciate it.

TAYLOR: Thanks for having me.

Lemon and all those involved in these two segments should be deeply ashamed of themselves for the activism and advocacy on display.

Unfortunately, with thirteen months to go before Election Day, this kind of nonsense is going to get far worse and far more frequent.

Please also read "N-ggerhead Takes Off on CNN: ‘Can a Candidate Recover Once They've Been Associated With a Controversy Over the Word N-gger?'.