Friday, October 31, 2008
By EVAN GAHR
David Gregory took over MSNBC's prime time election coverage earlier this year from Professional Angry Person Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews because Olbermann embarrassed the poorly rated cable network with his blatantly partisan tirades against the GOP, conservatives and really anyone who doesn't share his hyper-liberal world view.
But now Gregory has proved himself as big a partisan as Olbermann--maybe even bigger. On his "Race for the White House" show October 27 Gregory casually accused Jews who don't support Obama of racism when he questioned Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl).
Gregory asked her if now that Obama's initially low poll numbers among Jews have risen to levels equal to John Kerry's in 2004 means that "some of the out and out racism in the Jewish community" and other concerns that once led Jews to withhold their support has "dissipated."
Out and out racism?
But not it "dissipated?"
But who says it was there in the first place? Who besides Gregory?
He offered no evidence to back up his indictment of the entire Jewish community in Florida as either recovering racists who now support Obama or current racists who favor McCain.
The only stereotyping here comes not from Jews but Gregory. He presumes that anyone who doesn't support Obama is an out and out racist.
Obama's growing support among Florida Jews could be due to a multitude of factors. Maybe they're flocking to him because the economy has imploded. Maybe they no longer believe that Obama is insufficiently pro-Israel or even hostile to the Jewish state. Maybe they are no longer bothered by his association with the illustrious Jeremiah Wright.
As a reporter and the new objective face of MSNBC shouldn't Gregory ask why Jewish support for Obama was initially low in Florida? Instead, he passes off his own personal opinion--his own slander, really--as accepted fact.
Of course, there are plenty of good reasons for Jews not to vote for Obama. News last week about his warm relationship with Palestinian "scholar" Rashid Khalidi is one good reason.
Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, an Obama supporter, said via email that for "anyone to be for McCain does not mean they are racists. They and I believe in most cases Jew or Gentile are impressed with McCain's war hero status and alternative ideas on government.
"Normally, Gregory is a fine reporter. Jews have every right to be concerned about the security of Israel. I have concluded that Obama and McCain will stand up to Islamic terrorism."
Some Jews, like some of any other group, are prejudiced. But upon even cursory examination Gregory's assumption collapses under the sheer weight of its own stupidity. If "out and out racism" is why many Jews initially withheld their support from Obama there is no reason to think that this kind of inveterate racism would have "dissipated" within weeks.
It took segregationists George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, for example, decades before they embraced black voters.
Even re-education camps can't get the desired results in just weeks.
Even more curious is Gregory's assumption that Jews should vote for Obama. Again, says who?
And of course if "out and out racism" by Obama supporters had dissipated the logical corrollary is that Jews who support McCain are racist. Again, where is Gregory's evidence?
It's even more troubling that Congresswoman Wasserman-Shultz accepted the premise of Gregory's question. "Absolutely," she said, "I will predict that Barack Obama will actually do better in the Jewish community than John Kerry did."
By agreeing with Gregory, Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz has essentially called her own constituency either recovering bigots (new Obama supporters) or current bigots (McCain supporters).
So much for Obama's being a post-racial campaign.
Gregory, who identified himself as Jewish at a DC synagogue forum this June where he even donned a yarmulke did not respond to a faxed request for comment.
--Evan Gahr has written about the media for the New York Post, Washington Times and American Spectator.