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Monday, March 21, 2011

SAMMON FLASHBACK: Obama's "Views On The White Race" Are "Fairly Controversial"

by Eric Hananoki

During a 2008 radio appearance, Bill Sammon, then a Fox News contributor, said: "I've always felt that it's not going to be Jeremiah Wright's views on race that are necessarily going to doom Barack Obama's presidential bid. It's Barack Obama's own views on the white race which are, I think, fairly controversial."

On March 28, 2008, Sammon, who would later become Fox News' Washington managing editor, appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show along with Morton Kondracke. After Hewitt asked Sammon about a passage of Barack Obama's book that quotes Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Sammon responded:

SAMMON: Well, if you read, and I know you have, the rest of his book, and I've written about this and talked about this a number of times, Barack Obama himself expresses a grave distrust of white people in general.

HEWITT: Yup.

SAMMON: He anguished for the first quarter century at least of his life over his mixed race heritage and there are many, many passages in that book where he talks about how he often spoke disparaging about quote, "white folks" this, and "white folks" that. And then he would remember, you know, that his mother was white and he would feel guilty and conflicted about it. But there is a lot - I've always felt that it's not going to be Jeremiah Wright's views on race that are necessarily going to doom Barack Obama's presidential bid. It's Barack Obama's own views on the white race which are, I think, fairly controversial.

Later, after Kondracke defended Obama's writings about race, Hewitt said, "Look, there's nothing offensive in it at all except the language but there is a lot that will impact the election, I believe, Bill Sammon, in that, as Morton just said, most Americans don't - don't travel this path, and don't obsess on this the way that Barack Obama has."

Sammon then said, "Yeah, that's right. And, you know, the other thing is this. And I agree with what Mort said, this is very eloquent and he's obviously very anguished. And he's being, and he gives him credit for being blunt and candid and everything."

"But let's, let's pull back here for a minute," Sammon added. "This guy is applying for a job to run a country that is predominately white, OK? And if you are on record as expressing resentment and suspicions and antipathy towards the white race in general, that's a political problem."

Sammon then said, "Now I know a lot of people inside the Beltway, and a lot of the elites are very, you know, taken by, by this eloquent writer, and eloquent speaker, and look, 'he's raised this racial debate, we now can talk about the nuances of it,' but let me tell you something, you know, the Appalachian region is not going to go for this. There's, you know, when you have a guy who's running for president talking about how he spoke disparagingly about whites, that's a political problem."

On the April 30, 2008, edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, Sammon said Obama "is never again going to be the post-racial candidate thanks to Jeremiah Wright. That's over. He is the candidate about race, for better or for worse."

SAMMON: Meanwhile the post-racial ship has sailed. He is never again going to be the post-racial candidate thanks to Jeremiah Wright. That's over. He is the candidate about race, for better or for worse.

I think half of the respondents to this poll said that they looked at Reverend Wright as anti-white, which he obviously could be viewed that way.

But, again, if you look at his first memoir, Barack Obama's first memoir, he spent several decades of his life having antipathy towards white people because of his mixed race heritage, by his own words. When that comes out in the general election, I think that will hurt him, too.

At the time of his prediction, Sammon was a Fox News contributor and a Washington Examiner senior White House correspondent. In August 2008, Sammon was hired as Fox's Washington deputy managing editor, and in late February 2009, he was promoted to managing editor.

Media Matters noted that as deputy managing editor, Sammon engaged in a campaign to tie then-Sen. Barack Obama to "Marxists" and "socialism" in the days leading up to the presidential election. One of Sammon's leaked emails to Fox News colleagues linked Obama to socialism, and also catalogued "a couple of his many self-described 'racial obsessions'..." from Dreams From My Father.

In an October 28, 2008, FoxNews.com article, Sammon wrote that "Obama has been widely criticized for choosing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an anti-American firebrand, as his pastor. Wright is a purveyor of black liberation theology, which analysts say is based in part on Marxist ideas."

While appearing on Greta Van Susteren's October 21, 2008, program, Sammon said, "[F]or the life of me I cannot understand why John McCain--if he loses this, I think one of the things will be when people look back on it is that he didn't exploit this relationship with Reverend Wright."

From the March 28, 2008, edition of Salem Radio's The Hugh Hewitt Show:

HEWITT: I don't know if you guys have a chance to read or listen to Dreams From My Father, the Barack Obama autobiography from 1995. Bill Sammon, have you had a chance to read it or listen to it yet?

SAMMON: I have read it very carefully several times.

HEWITT: Alright, he, he recorded it himself and I want to play for you the audio of Barack Obama talking about his very first visit to Trinity Church, which puts into context his "I never heard this sort of stuff before" because at the end of this sermon, he cries. Cut number 12, Barack Obama on his first visit to hear Rev. Wright.

OBAMA (audio): The title of Rev. Wright's sermon that morning was "The Audacity of Hope." He began with a passage from the Book of Samuel: the story of Hannah, who, barren and taunted by her rivals, had wept and shaken in prayer before her God. The story reminded him, Rev. Wright said, of a sermon a fellow pastor had preached at a conference some years before, in which the pastor described going to a museum and being confronted by a painting titled Hope.

"The painting depicts a harpist," Rev. Wright explained. "A woman who at first glance appears to be sitting atop a great mountain. Until you take a closer look and see that the woman is bruised and bloodied, dressed in tattered rags, the harp reduced to a single frayed string. Your eye is then drawn down to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation.

"It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need."

HEWITT: "White folks' greed runs a world in need." Bill Sammon, if you stick in a church after you hear that, aren't you kind of buying into the whole theory of a sort of a white supremacy infrastructure to society?

SAMMON: Well, if you read, and I know you have, the rest of his book, and I've written about this and talked about this a number of times, Barack Obama himself expresses a grave distrust of white people in general.

HEWITT: Yup.

SAMMON: He anguished for the first quarter century at least of his life over his mixed race heritage and there are many, many passages in that book where he talks about how he often spoke disparaging about quote, "white folks" this, and "white folks" that. And then he would remember, you know, that his mother was white and he would feel guilty and conflicted about it. But there is a lot - I've always felt that it's not going to be Jeremiah Wright's views on race that are necessarily going to doom Barack Obama's presidential bid. It's Barack Obama's own views on the white race which are, I think, fairly controversial.

HEWITT: Let me play for you a couple of these. By the way, did you know he read this book, Bill?

SAMMON: I did, but I assumed when I -- and I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago. I was going to get it, but I saw that it was -- he did an abridged version and I figured he probably took out maybe some of the more controversial passages.

HEWITT: Well, he did but he left a lot in. Let's play cut number two from the Barack Obama audio.

OBAMA (audio): Our assistant basketball coach, a young, wiry man from New York with a nice jumper, who, after a pick-up game with some talkative black men, had muttered within earshot of me and three of my teammates that we shouldn't have lost to a bunch of n-[radio bleep]; and who, when I told him -- with a fury that surprised even me -- to shut up, had calmly explained that "those guys were n-[radio bleep]." That's just how white folks will do you. White folks. The term itself was uncomfortable in my mouth at first; I felt like a non-native speaker tripping over a difficult phrase. Sometimes I would find myself talking to Ray about white folks this or white folks that, and I would suddenly remember my mother's smile, and the words that I spoke would seem awkward and false. Or I would be helping Gramps dry the dishes after dinner and Toot would come in to say she was going to sleep, and those same words - white folks - would flash in my head like a bright neon sign, and I would grow suddenly quiet, as if I had secrets to keep.

Later, when I was alone, I would try to untangle these difficult thoughts. It was obvious that certain whites could be exempted from the general category of our distrust. Ray was always telling me how cool my grandparents were. The term white was simply a shorthand for him, I decided, a tag for what my mother would call a bigot. And although I recognized the risks in his terminology -- how easy it was to fall into the same sloppy thinking that my basketball coach had displayed ("There are white folks, and then there are ignorant motherf[radio bleep] like you," I had finally told the coach before walking off the court that day).

HEWITT: What do you think, Morton?

KONDRACKE: Look, I think, I think this guy is clearly agonized about, about who he is and he describes it brilliantly and it's, and it's, and it's very frank, and it's all, it's all hanging out there. Now, he didn't know that he was going to run - that he was going to be running for president when he wrote that book.

HEWITT: But he recorded it in 2005.

KONDRACKE: OK. OK. He did - he recorded it in 2005, he did not change the text. He did not say, you know, he did not exempt it from the, from the book. And I think, you know, I do think - you know that I think that what Jeremiah Wright said is outrageous and that, and that Obama should have left the church. And he's going to suffer for not leaving the church.

On the other hand, the black experience in America is one of feeling as though you are considered inferior. And you have this constant, this is the legacy of slavery, it's the legacy of Jim Crow. It's the - it's what you hear from your, from - on the knee of your uncle, you know, about race is a constant subject among African-Americans, the way it is not among us, white people. And I just think that if he is open in discussing all that stuff, I think that's terrific.

And I don't -- I don't find any offense in what, in any of that stuff that he said. He's talking about the struggles that he had to come up with his own identity, and who he considered a white bigot, and who he considered just an ordinary white person, but it's evidence of how, of how black people cannot get away from this subject.

HEWITT: Look, there's nothing offensive in it at all except the language but there is a lot that will impact the election, I believe, Bill Sammon, in that, as Morton just said, most Americans don't - don't travel this path, and don't obsess on this the way that Barack Obama has.

SAMMON: Yeah, that's right. And, you know, the other thing is this. And I agree with what Mort said, this is very eloquent and he's obviously very anguished. And he's being, and he gives him credit for being blunt and candid and everything. But let's, let's pull back here for a minute. This guy is applying for a job to run a country that is predominately white, OK? And if you are on record as expressing resentment and suspicions and antipathy towards the white race in general, that's a political problem. Now I know a lot of people inside the Beltway, and a lot of the elites are very, you know, taken by, by this eloquent writer, and eloquent speaker, and look, "he's raised this racial debate, we now can talk about the nuances of it," but let me tell you something, you know, the Appalachian region is not going to go for this. There's, you know, when you have a guy who's running for president talking about how he spoke disparagingly about whites, that's a political problem.

HEWITT: It is, Bill Sammon and Morton Kondracke, maybe over - one to be overcome, but we'll see. Thanks for being here, I'll be right back.

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