Chris Wallace criticizes Fox & Friends for "two hours of Obama bashing" in which hosts "distort[] what Obama had to say"

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace criticized the hosts of Fox & Friends for engaging in "two hours of Obama bashing" and for "distorting" comments Sen. Barack Obama made about his grandmother in a radio interview on March 20.

During an appearance on the March 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized the program's hosts for engaging in "two hours of Obama bashing" and for "distorting" comments Sen. Barack Obama made about his grandmother during an interview on Philadelphia sports radio station 610 WIP the previous day.

In that interview, Obama further explained a reference he made to his grandmother in a March 18 speech on race and the controversy surrounding his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, saying: "The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to break through it. And what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little bit less like that, and that's pretty powerful stuff." During the segment, Fox & Friends aired a clip truncating Obama's remark three times, cutting it off right after Obama says, "typical white person," although on two of those occasions, co-host Brian Kilmeade then paraphrased the next portion of Obama's remark. Co-host Gretchen Carlson also twice falsely claimed that Obama "said the same exact phrase ["typical white person"] during the speech on Tuesday [March 18]."

Appearing on Fox & Friends, Wallace said: "I have been watching the show since 6 o'clock this morning when I got up, and it seems to me that two hours of Obama bashing on this 'typical white person' remark is somewhat excessive, and frankly, I think you're somewhat distorting what Obama had to say." He continued:

WALLACE: I've actually ... clipped it out of the paper ... and what he said was: "The point I was making was not that my mother [sic] harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person," which is where you generally have clipped it ... but what he went on to say is, "who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes comes out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society."

Wallace later went on to add:

WALLACE: Well, I mean, all I can tell you is that I've been watching on and off for a couple of hours, and every clip I've seen ends at "that's a typical white person," when, in fact, he's going on to discuss the nature of race in our country. And, again, I'm not saying it was the -- if he had it to do over again, that he'd necessarily say it that way, but I don't think that he was making a hyper racial remark. And I guess I just feel like, on a day when he's been endorsed by Bill Richardson, and we have this story about the passports and the State Department officials looking into them, I feel like two hours of Obama bashing may be enough.

Noting that Obama "gave a major speech on Iraq on Wednesday [March 19], and a major speech on the economy yesterday [March 20]," Wallace also stated: "I think they [the Obama campaign] would say, in terms of deflecting attention away from the issues, people who really want to hear about it, maybe it's the media doing it, not Barack Obama."

On two occasions earlier in the program, after Fox & Friends aired the first portion of Obama's March 20 remark, cutting it off right after Obama referred to "a typical white person," Kilmeade had paraphrased the next portion of Obama's statement where he said, "if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way." However, about 15 minutes before Wallace appeared on the program, Fox & Friends again truncated Obama's comment, but this time, rather than mention the next portion of Obama's statement, as Kilmeade had done twice before, Doocy stated: "There you have Barack Obama yesterday on the radio in Philly trying to further explain his mention of his white grandmother during a speech he gave in Philadelphia on race. ... We just asked our viewers, 'Are you offended at Barack Obama referring to his grandma as a "typical white person"?' They are."

In addition, after one instance in which Kilmeade referred to the next portion of Obama's quote, Doocy replied: "That's right, that's the rest of his sound bite. But the three words are 'typical white person,' which he used right there." Carlson then falsely claimed: "[H]e said the same exact phrase during the speech on Tuesday." Earlier in the show, Carlson had similarly stated:

CARLSON: [W]ithin that speech, he talked about his grandmother -- his own grandmother -- who was white, and how she was a, quote, "typical white person." I don't know, guys. I sort of take offense at that line, "typical white."

In fact, Obama did not use the term "typical white person" when discussing his grandmother during the March 18 speech:

OBAMA: I can no more disown him [Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who, on more than one occasion, has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are part of me, and they are part of America -- this country that I love.

Concluding his appearance on Fox & Friends, Wallace told Doocy, Kilmeade, and Carlson: "Thank you, guys. I still love you." Doocy replied: "Yep. OK. An odd way of showing it."

From Obama's March 20 interview with WIP, in which he elaborated on the speech's reference to his grandmother:

OBAMA: The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person, who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, you know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society. We have to break through it. And what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little bit less like that, and that's pretty powerful stuff.

From the March 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: In the meantime, speaking of sports, Barack Obama was on WIP sports radio yesterday in Pennsylvania. Why? Well, because there's a big primary coming up at the end of April -- April 22nd. He needs a lot of votes in Pennsylvania.

However, he said something that probably -- it was not such a good thing to say. Here is Barack Obama on WIP yesterday.

OBAMA [audio clip]: The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person.

CARLSON: Uh-oh.

DOOCY: Uh-oh.

KILMEADE: Well -- "who" -- he went on to say, "who, if she sees someone on the street she doesn't know, there is a reaction that has been bred into her experiences that come out in the wrong way. "

CARLSON: Well, you know, this is all going back to his speech that he gave Tuesday morning in Pennsylvania with regard to race and disavowing himself to a certain extent from his reverend, Jeremiah Wright. But within that speech, he talked about his grandmother -- his own grandmother -- who was white, and how she was a, quote, "typical white person." I don't know, guys. I sort of take offense at that line: "typical white."

KILMEADE: See, I don't.

DOOCY: Sort of?

CARLSON: I do. I do. Because I don't know that a black person could -- or a white person could say, "a typical black person."

[...]

DOOCY: Speaking of Barack Obama, he gave that big speech to try to answer his critics regarding the fiery comments from the pulpit from his longtime reverend, Jeremiah Wright. He had that big speech in Philadelphia. In his speech, he did at one point talk about his white grandmother, how she would be afraid of seeing black guys on the street. Well, yesterday, he did an interview in Philadelphia with WIP sports radio. They asked him about that comment. This comment gets him into more trouble.

OBAMA [audio clip]: The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person.

KILMEADE: And if she sees someone down the street she doesn't know if the -- her reaction -- the way she was bred into her experiences, she might take things the wrong way.

DOOCY: That's right, that's the rest of his sound bite. But the three words are "typical white person," which he used right there.

CARLSON: Yeah, and he -- well, he said the same exact phrase during the speech on Tuesday. A lot of people picked up on that phrase and thought that it was offensive to some. I mean, I think we talked about this earlier; when you over-generalize any group of people, I usually don't like that, because I don't -- I just don't like being generalized like that.

DOOCY: Well, yeah, but can you say -- can you say "typical white person" if you're white? Can you say it -- if Hillary Clinton said "typical black person"?

CARLSON: No --

DOOCY: Or typical --

CARLSON: -- she can't say that.

DOOCY: She can't say that.

CARLSON: So there is a certain double standard in society. I think it's wonderful that we're talking about race relations --

DOOCY: Sure.

CARLSON: -- but if we're going to talk about it, then we shouldn't make gross generalizations, 'cause that just gets us more in trouble.

[...]

OBAMA [audio clip]: The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person.

DOOCY: There you have Barack Obama yesterday on the radio in Philly trying to further explain his mention of his white grandmother during a speech he gave in Philadelphia on race. Meanwhile, it looks like Hillary Clinton is gaining some ground on Barack Obama, according to some new polls.

Joining us right now with a fair and balanced debate, we've got Republican strategist Andrea Tantaros and Democratic strategist Regina Calcaterra, both live. Good morning, ladies.

TANTAROS: Good morning.

CALCATERRA: Good morning.

DOOCY: All right. We just asked our viewers: "Are you offended at Barack Obama referring to his grandma as a 'typical white person'?" They are. What do you think?

CALCATERRA: I think this is going to hurt him, 'cause this is going to be something that's going to play over and over. And when he wins the Democratic nomination -- 'cause I still think that he's probably going to be the likely winner -- the McCain campaign is going to use it and splice it, and it's going to hurt him.

[...]

DOOCY: Do you know what? That sounds almost like a bathroom they would build next to the office of Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday. Chris, you must have a fantastic facility there for you, right up on the Capitol Hill area?

WALLACE: Hey, guys. Listen, I love you guys, but I want to take you to task, if I may respectfully for a moment.

DOOCY: Yes.

WALLACE: I have been watching the show since 6 o'clock this morning when I got up, and it seems to me that two hours of Obama bashing on this "typical white person" remark is somewhat excessive, and frankly, I think you're somewhat distorting what Obama had to say. I've actually --

KILMEADE: All right.

WALLACE: -- clipped it out of the paper --

DOOCY: All right.

WALLACE: -- and what he said was: "The point I was making was not that my mother [sic] harbors any racial animosity -- she doesn't. But she is a typical white person," which is where you generally have clipped it.

DOOCY: No.

WALLACE: But what he went on to say is --

DOOCY: Chris --

WALLACE: -- "who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know, there's a reaction that's been bred into our experiences that don't go away and that sometimes comes out in the wrong way. And that's just the nature of race in our society." I'm not saying it's the most felicitous remark that anybody ever made, but --

DOOCY: No, Chris, sure. Chris, hold on, hold on just --

WALLACE: -- but I think it's a little more complicated than we've been portraying.

DOOCY: Right. We've actually read the complete sound bite three times so far. But what -- and we've posed this question to our viewers, whether or not they were offended by that. It just seems curious that had -- because Barack Obama said this and people are going, "Oh, you're being too sensitive," or whatnot, but had Hillary Clinton said something on the other side, had she said, "Well, that's a typical Irish person, Polish person, Italian person, Swedish person," whatever, it'd hit the fan.

WALLACE: Well, I mean, all I can tell you is that I've been watching on and off for a couple of hours, and every clip I've seen ends at "that's a typical white person," when, in fact, he's going on to discuss the nature of race in our country. And, again, I'm not saying it was the -- if he had it to do over again, that he'd necessarily say it that way, but I don't think that he was making a hyper racial remark. And I guess I just feel like, on a day when he's been endorsed by Bill Richardson, and we have this story about the passports and the State Department officials looking into them, I feel like two hours of Obama bashing may be enough.

KILMEADE: Well, here it is, Chris. I know you watched, and I appreciate you respecting us enough to say it on camera, as opposed to writing an email because I think it's better for our viewers to understand we don't agree on everything. But in all seriousness, as you know, if you watch the show and you pump out the transcript, which for $1.25 you can have your own, I am on -- I have said the other way about this sound bite because I really felt as though I got a different meaning of it than maybe Steve and many other people and Gretchen got. So, we've been debating that back and forth to the point where we ate up two other talking points, and they were telling us to move on. Did you get that texture of the conversation?

WALLACE: Well, I must say I missed your saying that during the time that I was doing 20 hits, but I just sort of feel that, you know, he is trying to have -- Obama -- and I have my differences with the Obama campaign, and I certainly do not countenance a lot of the things that Jeremiah Wright said, but I think that in trying to have a sensible conversation about race, and I think that's what he was trying to do in an -- it wasn't a speech -- it was an extemporaneous interview with a local talk radio station in Philadelphia, he was saying something about the way a lot of white people react when they see a black person walking down the street. I happen to actually think it's true, and I probably feel it myself and I suspect a lot of our viewers feel it.

KILMEADE: Well, in between your hits, I pointed out it's generational. That this woman was probably born in 1920, grew up in the 1930s. It was a different feeling then as opposed to Jeremiah Wright, who was coming up in the '60s, which is a much different feel than 2008, and that's what we were talking about --

CARLSON: Hey, Chris? Chris.

KILMEADE: -- but that's what was the opinions that were exchanged.

CARLSON: And my point of view was that I felt as if maybe the attention was being taken away from what people really wanted to hear Barack Obama speak about, which was his association and what he thought about the comments by his minister, Jeremiah Wright. I felt like he was deflecting the attention potentially away from that, and if we really want to have a discussion about race, then let's really have a discussion about how there is a double standard for certain phrases and words. I think if you throw a phrase like that out there, then, OK, then let's really have a discussion about it.

WALLACE: Well, I think -- and far be it for me to be a spokesman for the Obama campaign, and I will tell you that they would laugh at that characterization, but, you know, the fact is that after giving a speech on race earlier this week on Tuesday, he gave a major speech on Iraq on Wednesday, and a major speech on the economy yesterday, and so, I think they would say, in terms of deflecting attention away from the issues, people who really want to hear about it, maybe it's the media doing it, not Barack Obama.

DOOCY: So, on your Sunday show, you're just going to tell people never to watch Fox & Friends again?

WALLACE: No, I love you guys, but, you know, look, I think that's one of the things that's great about Fox News is that we don't all follow talking points and we disagree about things, and I just was unhappy with what you were doing today.

DOOCY: Well, in all fairness to the Fox & Friends show, you did 20-some-odd hits and obviously, you missed a lot of our dialogue.

WALLACE: Well, I heard enough of it.

DOOCY: OK.

CARLSON: And I thought we were going to talk about what tie you had on today. Did you hear that part?

WALLACE: Well, I think this was more interesting than that anyway. I did hear what you said about that, and I think actually that Brian's tie is better than my tie today.

KILMEADE: And you know why? It's a Karl Rove, and you were very impressed with Karl Rove's insight. Will Karl Rove be on your show this Sunday?

WALLACE: No, he won't. But we will be talking to Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania about the situation coming up there, where that's one of the key battlegrounds. We're going to be talking to two economic experts, the former treasury secretary in the Clinton administration as well as the former head of the Council of Economic Advisers for Bush, and then -- and now, I'm going to work my way back into your good graces.

DOOCY: Well, we'll see about that.

WALLACE: We're going to talk to Eli Manning, our power player of the week, who came down to Washington this week to talk about a presidential commission he's working on.

KILMEADE: And who is the most famous person in -- and most popular person in Mississippi? Is it the man that went to college there, or Shepard Smith? That's the big question that America needs answered.

WALLACE: Well, let me just say this. I asked Eli Manning because I know Shepard Smith dines out a lot, about Eli Manning, and I thought, "Does Eli Manning even know who Shepard Smith is?" And so, I asked him, and in fact, they're old friends and they know each other, and Eli Manning was well aware of Shepard Smith.

DOOCY: Small world.

KILMEADE: Well, that is -- that's something. Well, I can't wait to hear what you have to say, but was -- where was Chris Wallace in December and November interviewing Eli Manning? He had to win the Super Bowl to get Chris Wallace's attention. Is that what we have to do -- win the Super Bowl to be on your show?

WALLACE: Well, it helps.

KILMEADE: I'll think of some other angle. Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Thank you, guys. I still love you.

DOOCY: Yep. OK. An odd way of showing it. All right, Chris, thank you very much. Time for some headlines with Alisyn Camerota.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Chris Wallace, Gretchen Carlson
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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