UPDATE: It seems odd to me that while most stories linger for a day or two on Politico’s home page, the one I allude to below, published at 5:07 p.m. yesterday is already off it, as of noon today, 10/2/09. My bet is that Jim VandeHei & Co. knew that this was a weak story all around: It not only furthered a false story, there was nothing in it that suggested “walked back” from anything.
I mentioned about a week ago that President Jimmy Carter’s remarks about racism were going to be translated by the media to be more condemning than they were. David Gregory asked President Obama about Carter’s comments this way:
Your election, to a lot of people, was supposed to mark America somehow moving beyond race. And yet, this week you had former President Jimmy Carter saying most, not just a little, but most of this Republican opposition against you is motivated by racism. Do you agree with that?
Of course, that’s not what Carter said, which was
An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American.
I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way. And I have seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African- Americans. That racism in connection still exists.
And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.
I put more of the applicable quote up there to give it context. There is no way any credible, responsible journalist would equate “an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American” with “most of this Republican opposition against you is motivated by racism.” But Gregory did and he helped advance the story that Carter thought GOP opposition to Obama’s policies is motivated by race.
Today, we have Politico buying into Gregory’s interpretation and saying that Carter’s more recent comments are a “walking back” from his earlier comment. The title of the short article is “Jimmy Carter walks back racism charge.” But nothing in the article indicates he “walked back” or in any way retreated from what he said. In fact, Carter said what I said: he was misinterpreted.
“By the way, that’s not what I said,” Carter interjected as he was being asked about the comment. “If you read the remarks carefully, you’ll see that’s not what I said.”
“I said those that had a personal attack on President Obama as a person, that was tinged with racism,” Carter explained. “But I recognize that people who disagree with him on health care or the environment, that the vast majority of those are not tinged by racism.”
“I meant exactly what I said,” he continued. “What I actually said, if you look at the transcript, is what I just repeated to you.”
Obviously Andy Barr didn’t bother to read the original comments.