Ed Driscoll

CNN: "America Is Immigration And Not Necessarily Assimilation"

The above video clip is a flashback to 2008; we’ll get to it in just a bit. (And click here to open this blog post individually, as the built-in video player may not be visible on the blog’s homepage.)

But first, Matthew Balan spotted yet another bizarre moment at CNN this past week. As he writes at Newsbusters, in a post titled the “Politics of Pig’s Feet”, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien went so far to use the role of food in ‘ethnic identity’ to support Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor during Thursday’s ‘Newsroom’ program”:

When she was asked about Sotomayor’s now-infamous “wise Latina” remark from 2001, O’Brien bizarrely cited a more culinary part of the nominee’s speech where she talked about “pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.” Anchor Heidi Collins first read Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remark in 2001 to set up O’Brien’s sympathetic and unusual take on the nominee: “Soledad, some people would say the context is not complete with that comment, and because of that, as usual, when you don’t have context, something might be lost?” The CNN special correspondent wholeheartedly agreed and replied that people should read the entire 2001 speech. She continued with her first emphasis on Sotomayor’s ethnic identity: “Puerto Ricans are Americans. She is not an immigrant to this country. What formed her identity, she says, are the shared traditions. And here’s a little bit of what she says about the food. She says, ‘For me, a very special part of being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.’ This is during her speech — she says in the speech back in 2001. She goes on to talk about the pig’s feet and the other special dishes particular, not just to Puerto Ricans, but many Latino families.”

O’Brien then introduced a man-on-the-street report, where she asked three men and one woman in New York City about the food of the ethnicity they identified with. After it concluded, the correspondent again returned to her emphasis on how the Supreme Court nominee is “not an outsider — she’s an insider, and she represents frankly, the fastest growing demographic in this country right now — Latinos.” Collins inquired skeptically about the O’Brien’s point: “But I — but I think what the question was for some people who were concerned and are concerned as we move forward to the confirmation process is not about the food and what her background is. It’s about how she is going to judge on that potential bench.”

It’s about how she is going to judge on that potential bench.” The CNN special correspondent returned to her food point:

O’BRIEN: Well, I think the question is really identity, and what she’s saying is the food connects to her personal identity. But more than that, her identity on the bench- she’s saying as a judge, look at my record and decide. But as who you are in your personal identity doesn’t necessarily mean how you’re going to judge….She’s Latina and she’s American. Her culture is American culture. To present her as an outsider — she’s not. She — she is the face of what America’s looking like and is going to look like, and when you connect it to the food — guess what: the mainstream culture has embraced — through food often, through music — pizza, has embraced tacos — McDonald’s at one point — you know, Chipotle — the story of — for me, at least — America is immigration and not necessarily assimilation.

Perhaps that last sentence — not the Chipotle and McDonald’s reference, but the statement that “America is immigration and not necessarily assimilation” — helps to explain O’Brien carrying water for Rev. Wright in late April of 2008, as seen at the end of the above clip. (See, told you we’d get to it.)

So let’s flash back to then. TV Newser noted at the time that O’Brien both covered Wright’s keynote speech at the NAACP for CNN and also participated in it:

Sen. Barack Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has garnered much media attention for his contentious comments seen on YouTube and elsewhere. Now he’ll be appearing with a member of the media at a Detroit NAACP event.

Wright will give the keynote address at the 53rd Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner on April 27. CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien will serve as a special guest announcer for the dinner.

A special preview of O’Brien’s CNN documentary, “Blacks in America,” will be shown at the event.

As Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote the day after:

Rev. Jeremiah Wright spoke to the NAACP in Detroit on Sunday. CNN aired it live. I’m not a knee-jerk anti-CNN whiner. I was a from-the-couch participant in Crossfire. I never went a day without watching Inside Politics if I could help it. I was a devotee of Jeff Greenfield’s short-lived late-night show. They have Bill Bennett on election nights! In short, there are things to like about CNN. But their coverage of Wright Sunday night left something to be desired. And left a whole host of sophisticated wisecrackers owing Sean Hannity an apology.

The fact is, if you wanted to know what the big Obama story was going to be if he were to become the frontrunner, Hannity had it right — over a year ago. On March 1, 2007, Hannity interviewed Rev. Wright on Hannity & Colmes. He gave time to a combative Wright to explain himself and put some context to his thinking and preaching — he presented both sides, though he didn’t have to, considering the nature of his program. If you were Barack Obama, and had slept through every Wright sermon you ever attended, you should have known on March 1, 2007 that your pastor of 20 years would not fade into the background.

In startling contrast to Hannity’s opinion journalism, CNN’s “news” coverage on Sunday night went out of its way to be as unfair and unbalanced as possible. They aired Wright live. During the fiery speech, Wright plugged CNN “anchor and special correspondent” Soledad O’Brien and “long-term friend” CNN analyst Roland Martin. Both O’Brien and Martin appeared on-air after the event, discussing how funny and effective Wright was. [More on that here — Ed] As they explained to viewers how to understand Wright’s infamous “God damn America” comment, evening anchor Rick Sanchez insisted viewers keep watching replay after replay and apology after apology for Wright. “I would imagine the people watching [on TV] would say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize the guy had two masters degree and a Ph.D. I didn’t realize he spoke five languages.’ ” And that changes “God damn America” for you, doesn’t it? That appears to be CNN’s hope. O’Brien continued raving about the speech, “It was very funny. It was hilarious at times.” And in the morning, O’Brien was back, calling Sunday night a “homerun” for Wright. All credit to CNN for that.

And a week later, as can be seen at the end of the above clip, CNN famously declared itself a “Wright-Free Zone.”

At least during the election; CNN’s Roland Martin, described in 2008 as a “life-long friend” by Wright according to this article found by Protein Wisdom, happily dusted off one of Wright’s proteges for an appearance last month.

In the Washington Examiner this past week, Noemie Emery diagnosed a Liberal media on life support.” If CNN’s co-founder is scratching his head trying to determine why “seven months after Barack Obama’s victory, CNN’s ratings have gone down the drain”, the above incidents may provide a penumbra of an aura of a clue.