Fox host Steve Doocy and legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. accused President Obama of “saying that people don't like him him because they're racist” during a December 21 interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep. After playing a clip of Obama saying there are “absolutely” “certain circumstances around being the first African-American president that might not have confronted a previous president,” Johnson said that Obama is “totally, totally wrong,” that racism “isn't an explanation or an excuse,” and that "[h]e shouldn't resort to that."
Later in the interview, though, the president explained how there are “specific strains in the Republican Party that suggest that somehow I'm different, I'm Muslim, I'm disloyal to the country ... [W]hat I'd say there is that that's probably pretty specific to me and who I am and my background, and that in some ways I may represent change that worries them.”
Fox News and conservative media have been some of the worst offenders of fanning the flames of distrust, suggesting that President Obama has “Islamic sympathies,” proposing that Obama once flashed a “Muslim gang sign,” and even alleging that Obama's memoir, Dreams of My Father, was ghostwritten by communist sympathizer Bill Ayers.
From the December 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
PETER JOHNSON JR: We see in that NPR interview another instance of that blame everyone else other than me, the president. Asked about the fears of some Americans that he's changing the country and that he changed the country in a way that's unacceptable to them, he said in part, and this was his first response, listen in.
BARACK OBAMA: Well, look, if what you are asking me, Steve, is are there certain circumstances around being the first African-American president that might not have confronted a previous president, absolutely.
STEVE DOOCY: So, is he saying that people who don't like him don't like him because he's -- they're racist?
JOHNSON: Well that appears what he's saying. And we understand that racism is a strain in American politics and, unfortunately, has been a long time. I saw it with David Dinkins, as the first African-American mayor here in New York City. But it's not an explanation. It's not an excuse. He shouldn't resort to that. It divides America, on top of that I believe he's totally, totally wrong. He needs to understand what Americans are thinking and that's the wrong way to do it.