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March 30, 2009
Did ABC's Ann Compton Ask a Racist Question?
On March 24, during President Obama’s press conference, did ABC News reporter Ann Compton ask a racist question?
Here’s the odd exchange that happened when Ms. Compton was clearly surprised when Obama called on her to ask a question:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Compton. Hey, Ann.
COMPTON: Sir. (Soft laughter.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You sound surprised. (Laughter.)
COMPTON: I am surprised! (Chuckles.) Could I ask you about race?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You may.
COMPTON: Yours is a rather historic presidency, and I’m just wondering whether in any of the policy debates that you’ve had within the White House, the issue of race has come up, or whether it has in the way you feel you’ve been perceived by other leaders or by the American people. Or have the last 64 days been a relatively color- blind time?
Michelle Malkin called Compton’s question “stupid.” Anthony Bradley of World Magazine offered suggestions for alternative questions that would have been more relevant. But doesn’t that criticism overlook a fundamental element in Ms. Compton’s question?
She was clearly unprepared. Someone forget to tell her in advance of the press conference that she was in the queue.
Unprepared, with all the possible topical options at hand, her default subject dealt with the President’s race. Isn’t that interesting?
In ordinary daily life, the things people say on the spur of the moment, particularly when under pressure, can be quite self-revealing - not always in ways that portray the speaker favorably. Ms. Compton’s immediate reaction was a question about race. Huh.
When you saw the lead of this blog you might have immediately prepared to defend Ms. Compton against some allegation of racism. There no such allegation here. Just a question.
What do we make of the undeniable fact that when a major news reporter is called on to ad lib a question to the President, her default topic deals with race? Was she suggesting that others, in and/or outside the government, had dealt with the President from a racist point-of-view?
Am I the only one who finds her question curious? And revealing?
Suppose McCain had won the election and her question to President McCain had been:
"Yours is a rather historic presidency, and I’m just wondering whether in any of the policy debates that you’ve had within the White House, the issue of age has come up, or whether it has in the way you feel you’ve been perceived by other leaders or by the American people. Or have the last 64 days been a relatively age-blind time?"