Former President Barack Obama, who once referred to himself 467 times in one speech, managed to turn an hour-long special about underprivileged teenage boys into a forum on his own presidency.
On Monday night, CNN’s Anderson Cooper dedicated his full show to Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program, an initiative to encourage young black men to reach their full potential. Much of the discussion focused on being good fathers.
But Cooper asked Obama about the state of the world four years after Obama told voters he would consider it a “personal insult” if they elected Donald Trump as his successor.
“Did you tell the story of race in America enough?” Cooper asked.
“Well, look, I tried,” Obama replied, adding “we are still not fully reconciled with our history” which makes it “ hard for the majority in this country of white Americans to recognize that, look, you can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our forefathers, and yet” also emphasize the “terrible stuff [that] happened, and that the vestiges of that linger and continue.”
Then he pivoted to one of the first media faux pas of his presidency, when he attacked police for “acting stupidly” in arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates in June 2009. Neighbors called the police when they saw Gates, whose front door had jammed shut, trying to force his way into his back door. But when police officers asked him to produce identification, he refused and began ranting that the police were racist. The officers eventually arrested him for disorderly conduct.
Then-President Obama admitted that “not having been there and not seeing all the facts,” he didn’t actually know “what role race played in” the arrest. “But I think it’s fair to say … that the Cambridge [Massachusetts] police acted stupidly.”
Obama blamed the backlash on racists unable to hear the truth about their retrograde country.
“I tell the story in the book about the situation where Skip Gates, a Harvard professor who’s trying to get into his own house, gets arrested. And I’m asked about it,” he said.
“Not only did that cause a firestorm,” he said, “but subsequent polling showed that my support among white voters dropped more precipitously after that — what should have been a minor, trivial incident — than anything else during my presidency.”
“That’s extraordinary,” Cooper replied.
Obama said the fact that Americans held him accountable for his own words “gives a sense of the degree to which” inherent bias is still “deep in us, and sometimes unconscious.”
He also blamed “certain right-wing media venues” for allegedly “stoking the fear and resentment of a white population that is witnessing a changing America and seeing demographic changes.”
In reality, the foot-in-mouth moment of the golden-tongued Obama unintentionally revealed his hostility to law enforcement, which would manifest itself throughout his eight years in office. Obama would give a charged speech about alleged racial disparities in policing before gunmen killed five Dallas police officers and left six more wounded at a Black Lives Matter protest. When Obama left office in 2017, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, William J. Johnson, said, “No one is sorry to see this guy go.”
Obama also touched on numerous other subjects, including cancel culture, media bias, how the D.C. “establishment” should have squeezed Donald Trump, and he cited a discredited study about the number of words poor people hear as children.
What did Obama say about cancel culture?
Obama acknowledged that occasionally “cancel culture” goes too far, but his daughters have a good sense of when to draw the line.
He said “in conversations with my daughter” he had seen “a lot of the dangers of cancel culture, [that] we’re just going to be condemning people all the time. At least among my daughters, they will acknowledge that, sometimes, among their peer group or in college campuses, you will see folks going overboard. But they have a pretty good sense of, ‘Look, we don’t expect everybody to be perfect. We don’t expect everybody to be politically correct all the time. But we are going to call out institutions or individuals if they are being cruel, if they’re discriminating against people. We do want to raise awareness.’”
What did Obama say about the two-party establishment, or Deep State, suppressing a conservative agenda?
Obama answered Anderson Cooper’s softball question, “Did you ever think it would get this dark?” by saying that he expected the GOP Establishment to rein in Trump, only to see the former president outmaneuver the party’s old guard.
“No, I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected that you would have the so-called Republican Establishment who would say, ‘OK, you know, it’s a problem.’ … [W]e did not see that Republican Establishment say, ‘Hold on, time out, that’s not acceptable, that’s not who we are,’ but rather be cowed into accepting” Trump and his agenda.
Obama was also upset more Republicans weren’t willing to be replaced in Congress by Democrats. “I didn’t expect that there would be so few people who would say, ‘Well, I don’t mind losing my office, because this is too important. America is too important.’”
Obama repeated the same, discredited study as Joe Biden when he told parents to turn on their record player
Cooper told Obama that, while reading a “speech you gave a while back,” he read “a figure I had never heard before, that by the age of three, if you grew up in a low-income family, you’ve heard 30 million fewer words than a 3-year-old child in a well-off family.”
Obama replied that the study “means by the time you show up in first grade, you are already significantly behind” wealthier students. “Now the good news is it turns out … kids are amazingly resilient, and they can catch up. But it also means that we have to make investments to ensure that they catch up.”
Biden made headlines during the third Democratic primary debate, when he told parents to “make sure you have the record player on at night.” But National Public Radio once explained (at your expense) that the claim of a multimillion-word deficit between children is deeply flawed, no matter who refers to it:
[D]id you know that the number comes from just one study, begun almost 40 years ago, with just 42 families? That some people argue it contained a built-in racial bias? Or that others, including the authors of a new study that calls itself a “failed replication,” say it’s just wrong?
Obama and CNN obviously didn’t.
What did he say about media bias on the Right and Left?
According to Obama, conservatives are more closed-minded than left-wing progressives.
“It’s not symmetrical,” he said. Media outlets that “the Right would consider liberal media, like CNN, you guys will still take Democrats to task for things. I think Democrats — L-rd knows, when I was president, I was getting a lot of incoming from my own base. And so, it’s not symmetrical.”
What did Obama say about the role of the media in promoting a worldview?
Obama, under whose presidency Americans’ image continually fractured into separate and warring ethnic identities, said the media have to begin to coalesce Americans around a common orthodoxy.
“How do we start once again being able to tell a common story about where this country goes?” he asked. “That is not just the job of politicians, although I think elected officials have an important role. That’s where the media is going to have to play an important role. That is where companies have to play an important role.”
Much of the last year has shown the way the legacy media, social media, and the CEOs of Woke capitalism can work in concert to promote left-wing cultural issues — and coordinate efforts to deplatform anyone who questions it.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.