Sanders Demands Apology From Biden For Hilary Rosen’s Comment

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There is a controversy brewing over the comments of CNN contributor Hilary Rosen during a heated exchange with Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner. Rosen’s comments have been denounced as racist and her initial apology triggered even more intense criticism. What is most interesting however is what this controversy says about the role of contributors. Rosen has a long history of supporting Democratic establishment figures from the Clintons to Joe Biden. In today’s formulaic media roles, she is viewed as such a de facto voice for Biden that Sen. Bernie Sanders has demanded that Biden apologize for her comments. It is a dispute that directs a bright light on the usually murky roles played by “contributors” on the cable programs as campaign surrogates. The exchange also had some troubling issues when Turner objected to Rosen’s contrary interpretation of a Martin Luther King “as a white woman.” As discussed below, Turner was right on the meaning of the quote. So the problem was not that Rosen was white. It was that she was wrong.

Turner and Rosen crossed swords on Thursday night on “Cuomo Prime Time” after Turner invoked Martin Luther King Jr. Rosen objected to the reference, suggested that Turner got the quote wrong, and then said that Turner “did not have the standing” to invoke King in this way. Later Rosen apologized after widespread criticism but seemed to refer to Turner in the apology as an “angry black woman.”

Here is the original exchange:

“That is not what I said. Don’t you do that,” Rosen said.

HILARY ROSEN, BIDEN CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: You know, Nina referenced Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.] before saying he said from the Birmingham jail that we should be concerned about white moderates. That’s actually not what Martin Luther King said. What he said —

NINA TURNER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN SURROGATE: He did say that.

ROSEN: He said we should be worried about the silence of white moderates.

TURNER: Don’t tell me about Martin Luther King Jr. Are you kidding me?

ROSEN: Nina —

CUOMO: She’s making a language point, Nina.

ROSEN: What he said was we should be worrying about the silence of white moderates. And what we have in Joe Biden is a man that’s not silent. He has a long record and many, many votes that in today’s world feel like the wrong thing, were the wrong thing and he has discussed that over and over again as Bernie Sanders did on the gun votes and other things. So we can be talking about votes from 20 years ago or we can be talking about people’s values and who they trust. And that’s what Joe Biden is going to be talking about.

CUOMO: Last quick point to you, Nina.

TURNER: What Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about, he said it is the point that the white moderate wants things to be comfortable instead of focusing in on the bigger threat is not necessarily the white KKK member but more the white moderate that is more comfortable with keeping things the same while pretending like there is no tension than to deal —

ROSEN: Don’t use Martin Luther King against Joe Biden. You don’t have that —

TURNER: First of all —

ROSEN: You don’t have that standing. I’m sorry. You don’t.

TURNER: Don’t tell me what kind of standing I have as a black woman in America. How dare you?

ROSEN: You have a lot of standing as a black woman in America.

TURNER: First of all, you’re dipping into something you don’t understand. You need to — I did not demean you —

ROSEN: You don’t have the standing to attack Joe Biden using Martin Luther King’s words.

TURNER: I didn’t attack anybody. You’re taking it that way.

Listen, don’t dip into what I have to say about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How dare you as a white woman try to tell me —

ROSEN: That is not what I said. Don’t you do that.

TURNER: — trying to tell me what I’m supposed to feel and what I’m doing what now.

CUOMO: Nina, Hillary, I’m out of time on this one —

TURNER: Chris, I didn’t jump in on her, though and she wants to jump in on me.

CUOMO: You guys are in the same party. This is what you guys have to figure out. You’re in the same party. And let me tell you, you better keep that same energy when you are up against Trump that you have against each other because he is bigger and badder than I think you guys are ready for.

Cuomo has been criticized for not taking a stronger stance against Rosen. I am not sure that that is his function. Ironically, I am more concerned with what he said at the end where he seemed to chastise the two commentators for not focusing on defeating Trump as “the bigger and badder” threat. It is another example of the open advocacy that seems to have become the norm at CNN. I fail to see why it is the function of a CNN host to mediate disagreements between rivaling Democratic candidates to better campaign against Trump.

Moreover, while I think (as I explain below) that Rosen was wrong on the quote, I do not agree with Turner that “as a white woman,” Rosen is somehow not allowed to disagree with Turner on a quote of Martin Luther King.

Rosen however deepened the controversy with her apology:

“On air thurs I said my colleague @ninaturner didn’t have a standing to use MLK Jr. That was wrong. I am sorry for saying those words. [Please] no need to defend me and attack angry black women. They have standing. I always need to listen more than I talk. We rise together.”

The “angry black women” reference set off a firestorm and Rosen deleted her apology and issued a new one:

“I’m horrified that anyone would think i would call Nina Turner ‘an angry black woman’ I would NEVER!! After the TV hit last night, I was getting tons of ugly messages to keep fighting her using that phrase. I was trying to tell people to STOP. Cause I KNEW I needed to apologize. I unequivocally know I disrespected her and I wanted to make it right by telling disgusting white folks to stop. Wow did that tweet go wrong. I am so sorry.”

Now Sanders has demanded a Biden apology for Rosen’s comments:

“@JoeBiden must accept responsibility for his surrogate telling our campaign co-chair Senator @NinaTurner that she doesn’t have standing to invoke the words of Dr. King. That is unacceptable and Joe must apologize to Nina and all the people of color supporting our campaign.”

Rosen has had a history of controversial statements. In 2012, Rosen inexplicably attacked Ann Romney, the wife of then presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as a stay-at-home mother. Rosen said that a stay-at-home mother she “never worked a day in her life.” Rosen’s comments were denounced by the Obamas and she apologized.

Then in 2017, as we discussed in a blog post, Rosen attacked Georgetown Hoyas fans as “anti-Semitic,” and specifically attacked one fan as “bigot” after she saw a photograph of him wearing a bacon costume. The Georgetown student, Michael Bakan, was well-known for the costume that was a pun on his name which is pronounced “bacon.” Rosen again apologized.

For full disclosure, I previously had an odd exchange with Rosen on the air with NPR where she suddenly objected to a discussion over gay rights as a lesbian without explaining what was offensive. The host and I were simply discussing the change of Hillary Clinton on gay rights issues like same-sex marriage. I never did learn what was the cause of Rosen’s exclamation “Because I’m a lesbian and how dare you” but it now seems similar to aspects of this exchange.

Sander’s demand for an apology from Biden is fascinating in this new media environment where commentators are selected to give predictably one view in crossfire formats. Sanders is right that many contributors are effectively working for or directed by campaigns. However, his demand for an apology highlights these connections and pierces the artificial neutrality of so many political commentators.

The dispute by the way over the MLK statement stems from his famous  “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” I think that Rosen was wrong and Turner was right on what King said about moderates. It was not about their “silence” alone when he wrote:

“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

His point seems to be that moderate whites are more devoted to the status quo and fearful of many reforms. Accordingly, I think Turner has the more accurate interpretation of the passage. It also would seems as apropos to her point a\in the exchange with Rosen.

93 thoughts on “Sanders Demands Apology From Biden For Hilary Rosen’s Comment”

  1. There was so much wrong with this exchange.

    1. Stop weaponizing racist accusations (or fill-in-the-blank). Biden is not a racist. Nor is this 1963 where some white people ignored the plight of black people under Jim Crow. Joe Biden has a lot of problems but he’s not some 1960s guy looking the other way about segregated entrances and bathrooms. Of course a Biden supporter would take offense at a suggestion that MLK’s quote be used against Biden.
    2. Of course a black woman may quote MLK. He fought for black rights. Rosen’s comment that Turner had “no standing” to say what she did was as absurd as claiming a Hindu has no standing to quote Ghandi. She could disagree with Turner but the issue was not standing. Turner was not correct about the content of the quote because she’s black and Rosen was not wrong because she’s white. It hinged on who recalled the quote correctly.
    3. Turner was right about the MLK quote.
    4. Turner was wrong to say that Rosen was out of line because she was a white woman. That’s racist and incorrect. For instance, you don’t have to be a black slave from 1860 to understand that enslaving black people was wrong. Truth knows no race. Rosen was wrong because she did not recall the quote correctly. Race had nothing to do with it.
    5. Rosen was hellishly wrong to use the stereotype phrase “angry black woman” unless she was talking about seeing the Tyler Perry movie.

    It’s kind of like watching Democrats eat their own using identity politics. A black woman against a lesbian. Who will win when right and wrong is not based on the argument, but rather skin color and sexual orientation?

    Instead of talking about whether it was appropriate to apply MLK’s quote to Biden, everyone is arguing about whether a white woman may say the quote is inappropriate or disagree with a black woman, who has standing, or that Rosen’s “angry black woman” quote was racist.

    Meanwhile, no one wonders if it was fair to compare Biden to complacent whites in the 1960s.

  2. People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom. Freedom does not adapt to people, dictatorship does.

    Americans enjoy freedom of thought, speech, belief, religion, socialization, assembly and every other conceivable natural and God-given right and freedom per the 9th Amendment.

    It is absolutely constitutional to hold opinions based on race, and that the biological bipeds of identical plumage are gregarious is axiomatic and is not precluded in any fashion by the Constitution. Most Americans move, or vote with their feet, when their neighborhood minority percentage exceeds an acceptable level. What’s the percentage of minorities in your neighborhood?

    What is the point of listening to an illegal alien still awaiting adjudication (in 1863, the status of freed slaves and their descendants changed from “property” to “illegal alien” upon Lincoln’s issuance of the unconstitutional emancipation proclamation as the Naturalization Act of 1802 required citizens to be “…free white person(s)…”) like this radical extremist King, who was “with” two women the night before his assassination, was a remorseless philanderer with a wife and children at home, a malicious liar to his wife and family, an evil fraud to his “congregation” not to mention an unapologetic plagiarist who defrauded an entire university staff and his audiences throughout this country, and a communist?

    Jimmy Carter may have said it best:

    CARTER DEFENDS ALL‐WHITE AREAS

    By Christopher. Lydon Special to The New York Times

    April 7, 1976

    SOUTH BEND, Ind., April 6 — Jimmy Carter said today that the Federal Government should not take the initiative to change the “ethnic purity” of some urban neighborhoods or the economic “homogeneity” of well‐to‐do suburbs.

    ‘If he wins the Presidency, the Georgia Democrat said at a news conference here, “I’m not ‐going to use the Federal Government’s authority deliberately to circumvent the natural inclination of people to live in ethnically homogeneous neighborhoods.”

    Similarly, he said, “To build a high‐rise, very low‐cost housing unit in a suburban neighborhood or other neighborhoods with relatively expensive homes, I think, would not he in the best interest of the people. who live in the high‐rise or the suburbs.

    “Any exclusion of a family because of race or ethnic background I would oppose very strongly and aggressively as President,” he said. “But think it’s good to maintain the homogeneity of neighborhoods if they’ye been established that way.”

    1. WW33, they sound like Diamond and Silk. The message they bring is quite different refreshing. Thanks. I never heard them before.

  3. “Rosen Turn” – A series of left turns in quick succession ending where one started..
    “Sanders Loop” – A sharp left bank ending in outer space.

  4. “Bloody Sunday remembered: civil rights marchers tell story of their iconic photos”

    “Fifty-five years ago this month, protesters in Alabama demanded voting rights for African Americans. Four participants ask if the US has really changed”

    “John Lewis joins presidential hopefuls on Bloody Sunday march”

    “5 years after Bloody Sunday, concern rises over voting rights”

    by Lauren Aratani

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/01/bloody-sunday-remembered-civil-rights-marchers-tell-story-of-their-iconic-photos

    ‘In talks about his civil rights work, he emphasizes how the contributions of ordinary people can make a difference. He quotes from King’s speech in Selma: “Truth crushed to the ground will rise again.”’

    1. I was expecting both ladies to stop blow-drying each others’ hair and shout “Oh, shut up, Fredo!”

  5. Yes, we all understand about the biases of contributors… still hoping for that appointment to the SCOTUS, Jonny?

  6. Omg, this is so juicy and awful. They’re Perfect! Brilliant for CNN, pull in those ratings with the drama, Cuomo, let them run, just let them speak. Hahaha. Wow. I think they specifically get highly opinionated rigid talking heads for the drama pieces. It might be 24 hr news, but it’s more entertainment than anything else. And these two did wonders for the channel.

    My favorite line, “How dare you?” Just take off your glove next and lean over the table and slap the person with it, old-school style.

    My favorite lines, “How dare you?” On any channel, and the celebrity favorite, “Don’t you know who I am?”. And then the commoner, ” No, I don’t…sorry.” Hahaha. Yep.

    1. People of Color, are you joking, Bernie? You’re joking, right? 😆 what in the world, that’s like going back in time.

      Just call them Black, like you would call me White, and you call a Hispanic, Carmel. 😉😉😉

      People of Color, sounds so forced, like maybe the one’s with the problem, are the hyper sensitive folks. Just saying

      Treat all people the same.

      1. WW33……….exactly! You’re tslking sbout having a color-blind society. Hmmmmmmmm….who was it that preached about that very thing??????. Oh, yeah….Dr. King.
        The last time I heard black leaders talk about how we should all be “color blind”, the word “gay” meant “happy”.

    2. They also have serious professional intellectuals mixed in with the drama folks, but it would be a Zzzzz…zonk fest if all they had was intellectuals, that exchange thought, and don’t get offended.

      I.e., those who listen and then counter without the hyperbolic “how dare you” nonsense.

      It’s TV, it’s show biz, whether it’s CNN or Fox. Everyone should be well aware, ratings is end all be all…

      Personal tid bit, I knew a guy who produced reality TV, like the Bachelor, years ago, and they would stir the pot when the cameras were off, with so-and-so said this about you, and I wanted to be a friend and let you know, I know I just work for the show, but I care, so helping you out…they also have moles mixed in for more drama…not everyone is an actual contest. The show wasn’t the Bachelor, I just used it as an example…but all for ratings. News is no different.

  7. REAL POLITICAL INTRIGUES

    Project Veritas Aspires To Become A Private CIA With Links To Blackwater

    Erik Prince, the security contractor with close ties to the Trump administration, has in recent years helped recruit former American and British spies for secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda, according to interviews and documents.

    One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the nation. Mr. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretly tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization, documents show.

    Using a different alias the next year, the same undercover operative infiltrated the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger, then a former C.I.A. officer who went on to win an important House seat in Virginia as a Democrat. The campaign discovered the operative and fired her.

    Both operations were run by Project Veritas, a conservative group that has gained attention using hidden cameras and microphones for sting operations on news organizations, Democratic politicians and liberal advocacy groups. Mr. Seddon’s role in the teachers’ union operation — detailed in internal Project Veritas emails that have emerged from the discovery process of a court battle between the group and the union — has not previously been reported, nor has Mr. Prince’s role in recruiting Mr. Seddon for the group’s activities.

    Both Project Veritas and Mr. Prince have ties to President Trump’s aides and family. Whether any Trump administration officials or advisers to the president were involved in the operations, even tacitly, is unclear. But the effort is a glimpse of a vigorous private campaign to try to undermine political groups or individuals perceived to be in opposition to Mr. Trump’s agenda.

    Mr. Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has at times served as an informal adviser to Trump administration officials. He worked with the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn during the presidential transition. In 2017, he met with White House and Pentagon officials to pitch a plan to privatize the Afghan war using contractors in lieu of American troops. Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, rejected the idea.

    Mr. Prince appears to have become interested in using former spies to train Project Veritas operatives in espionage tactics sometime during the 2016 presidential campaign. Reaching out to several intelligence veterans — and occasionally using Mr. Seddon to make the pitch — Mr. Prince said he wanted the Project Veritas employees to learn skills like how to recruit sources and how to conduct clandestine recordings, among other surveillance techniques.

    James O’Keefe, the head of Project Veritas, declined to answer detailed questions about Mr. Prince, Mr. Seddon and other topics, but he called his group a “proud independent news organization” that is involved in dozens of investigations. He said that numerous sources were coming to the group “providing confidential documents, insights into internal processes and wearing hidden cameras to expose corruption and misconduct.”

    Edited From: “Erik Prince Ex-Spies To Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups”

    Today’s New York Times

    1. REGARDING ABOVE:

      The story goes on to note that former Blackwater personnel were used on Project Verita’s operation to infiltrate a Michigan teacher’s union. Erik Prince is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They both hail from a very wealthy Michigan family.

      1. Erik Prince is a great man and a patriot.

        Edgar Prince their father was an excellent businessman, a pillar of the community, a fine person and the DeVos family that Betsy married into were exemplary much the same. America’s blessed by the industry and rootedness of the Dutch American families of Western Michigan.

        Now you might be tempted to think that another Great Republican Representative from Western Michigan, Fred Upton, was Dutch too, judging from the bountiful pulchritude of his supermodel daughter, Kate. But far as I know they’re just longtime American Wasps, descendants of :Louis Upton, founder of Whirlpool, and the Civil War General Emory Upton. Tremendous Americans!

      1. Absurd, do we really want a trend of mercenary spy agencies for hire? Is that where we want to go as a democracy?

        1. “do we really want a trend of mercenary spy agencies for hire? Is that where we want to go as a democracy?”

          Apparently the FBI activities against the Trump campaign was exactly that. However one is working for private corporations and the FBI et. al. are supposed to be working for the nation not the Democratic Party. Paint Chips you don’t seem to be able to separate the Democratic Party from our government.

            1. Annonymous the Stupid, it is bad enough you can’t put two sentences together in an intelligent manner but one would think you would show restraint with symbols for four letter words. Apparently you are too Stupid to do so.

              1. WTF is this guy Allan talking about? Whatever is he on about?

                Is it alcohol, drugs or just pure idiocy that we’re hearing?

          1. Pardon me. I meant “Fusion GPS”, who served as a conduit for a defamatory report by a former operative of British Intelligence, employing someone to slip that report to her husband, a US Department of Justice employee to be uttered in a FISA Court as reliable intelligence to authorize surveillance of a member of the opposition party’s Presidential candidate.

            Project In Vino Veritas has never been used in such Nixonian excess.

    2. Paint Chips, what you are showing us is that experienced people are getting valid information on video. That information is real. Your problem is with the ideology of the people involved not the accuracy of the information. Based on this article one can conclude that Project Veritas information is quite accurate.

      On the other hand the Washington Post frequently uses anonymous sources without INDEPENDENT verification. That means the Washington Post cannot be trusted.

      Like in the past when the NYTimes falsely linked Trump to Russia they are now falsely attempting to link Project Veritas as a direct part of the Trump Presidency. There is little doubt that Project Veritas sympathizes with Trump but that has nothing to do with the amazing accuracy and validity of their videos.

      Note: There is a much greater linkage of the MSM to Democrats than Trump to Veritas. We have to remember things like the media providing questions to Hillary Clinton during the debates.

      In any event a thank you is in order to Paint Chips for demonstrating that Project Veritas is of such high quality.

  8. “the artificial neutrality of so many political commentators”

    The cable networks don’t feign neutrality, their biases are blatant and undisguised. Turley is obsessed with something that does not and cannot exist. We all have our biases and the best we can do is be open about them so audiences can take them into account. To know the truth about the Democratic party, one is better off watching FOX than CNN or MSNBC. To know the truth about the Republicans, it’s the reverse. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way human beings are.

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