USA Today Falsely Claims the Obama Years Represented Progress for Race Relations

President Barack Obama laughs during a meeting in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The latest USA TODAY Weekend features a front page story that should belong in the paper’s fiction section if it had one. Titled “What the 2010s, Obama, Trump and Black Lives Matter meant for Americans,” this story presents a bogus impression of race relations over the past decade, and somehow reaches the conclusion that the Obama years were defined by progress in race relations, which were abruptly set back by Trump’s election.

The worst thing about this is it’s not even in the opinion section.

“It was a decade of progress,” the article begins. “Former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, was elected for a second term.”

Okay, let’s stop right there. Obama may have been “the nation’s first black president” but that doesn’t mean the nation experienced progress. In fact, by the end of Obama’s first term, the nation had yet to even recover from the Great Recession, and wouldn’t for another two years, at least in terms of jobs. Wages would continue to be stagnant throughout Obama’s presidency and he earned the unique distinction of being the only president never to experience 3% growth in annual GDP.

But, the author of the article, Nicquel Terry Ellis, a national correspondent for USA TODAY, isn’t talking about economic progress, she’s talking about race relations.

Protesters and professional athletes took a stand against police killings of black men.

Social media became the platform for calls for racial justice, sparking the launch of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement.

The 2010s were, by all means, monumental for black activism, giving many Americans hope that their voices might be heard.

To the author, the Black Lives Matter movement, which was based on a lie and caused a spike in killings of police officers, was a good thing. Obama’s endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement perpetuated the myth that white police officers are engaged in a racist war against African Americans (spoiler alert, they aren’t) and thanks to that endorsement, anti-cop violence and killings surged, according to FBI statistics.

That is what Nicquel Terry Ellis calls “progress,” which — she believes — was thwarted by Trump. “It was a decade, however, that also saw the election of President Donald Trump – who pledged to support tougher law enforcement and limit immigration – as well as renewed activity from the white nationalist movement, resulting in mass shootings and other incidents of domestic terrorism against people of color.”

So, I guess tougher law enforcement is racist? Prioritizing Americans over illegal immigrants (thus making more jobs available to everyone, including minorities) is racist, too. I can remember when the media claimed that Obama’s election ignited a spark in white nationalism. Now, the narrative has changed to Trump’s election ignited a spark in white nationalism. I guess everything inspires white nationalism! Regardless of the left’s rotating explanations for what inspires white nationalism, black conservative activist Candace Owens has repeatedly dismissed white nationalism as an overstated problem. “Based on the hierarchy of what’s impacting minority Americans, if I had to make a list of 100 things, white nationalism would not make the list,” she said in testimony before the House Oversight Joint Subcommittee in September.

Oh, but that doesn’t fit the left’s narrative, and Nicquel Terry Ellis wants us to believe that after eight years of progress under Obama, it’s all been reversed after three years of Trump. “Civil rights activists now say more must be done in the new decade to advance the rights of black people in the U.S. and build on the progress made since 2010.” She then went on to quote Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, but not his niece Alveda King, a Trump supporter. How convenient.

But here’s where things get even more absurd:

Since 2012, when George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was black, in Sanford, Florida, sparking activism that would become the Black Lives Matter movement, many black men and women continue to die at the hands of police.

George Zimmerman is not white. There is no such thing as a “white Hispanic.” It was a bogus designation created to help the shooting fit the narrative that white people just go around killing black people. Ellis also fails to mention that Zimmerman was assaulted by Trayvon, and sustained significant injuries from that assault, which prompted him to shoot Trayvon in self-defense.

Ellis’s biggest offense comes with her grossly misleading stats on race relations.

A survey released earlier this year by the non-partisan Pew Research Center revealed nearly 6 in 10 Americans said race relations in the country were bad. And 56% said Trump made race relations worse. Conversely, in 2009, 41% of Americans said race relations had gotten better with Obama’s presidency, while 22% said they had gotten worse, according to a Gallup Poll.

Do you see what she did there? She cited a poll from Obama’s first year in office which said 41 percent believed race relations got better under Obama. She left out the fact 70 percent had thought race relations would improve on his watch. Ellis deliberately misleads her readers by citing a poll from Obama’s first year in office, and not one from his last year. If she had, she’d have had to cite polls that showed a majority of Americans believe race relations got worse under Obama, or that race relations reached an all-time low on his watch. In fact, by Obama’s last year in office, a mere 9 percent believed race relations had improved. Ouch. No wonder she didn’t cite those polls.

Ellis cited a Pew Research poll on race relations under Trump, but what did Pew say about race relations under Obama? According to a 2014 Pew Research/USA Today poll, both blacks and whites perceived race relations getting worse under Obama. Nicquel Terry Ellis created the false impression that race relations got better under Obama, but worse under Trump.

Race relations may not have gotten better under Trump, but they’ve been declining for years because of Obama, and when the media falsely claims the president is a racist who inspired white nationalists, the media is actually responsible for the deteriorating race relations—not Trump.

The problem isn’t Donald Trump, it’s the media. It’s “journalists” like Nicquel Terry Ellis who will lie to the American people about Obama in order to bash Trump, who will use bogus terms like “white Hispanic” and celebrate a movement that was based on a lie and inspired a spike in cop killings as “progress.” Meanwhile, the progress made for black Americans under Trump goes completely ignored. The Obama recovery left black Americans behind, while under Trump, they now are experiencing historically low unemployment.

Oh, but when facts don’t fit the narrative, Ellis saw it was her responsibility to ignore them.


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis


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