Fox News has taken it upon itself to teach the nation’s first African American president a thing or two about racially-sensitive rhetoric.
It seems that in Rhode Island this week, President Obama made a slight addition to his now-ubiquitous “Republicans drove the economy into the ditch” metaphor. Here’s how Fox News’ own reporter on the ground recounted the moment:
He said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, “we can’t have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”
Offended yet? No? For shame, said a string of Fox pundits ranging from Stuart Varney to Monica Crowley over the past day or so. Obama, they say, was clearly referring to “sending Republicans to the back of the bus” (a word, it should be noted, Obama did not say), which as any Fox pundit knows, is an oblique reference to Rosa Parks and is therefore 100% offensive.
This is not the Obama of the 2008 race speech, nor the Obama who promised to improve the discourse in Washington, say Fox pundits. This is racial insensitivity at its worst.
“When I looked at that, being foreign-born, I know the association that was bringing to the public mind,” Varney said on Hannity last night.
“A president starts labeling fellow Americans as enemies? That’s just beyond the pale,” Varney added.
“When you’re president, your words carry weight,” former Bush administration spokesperson Dana Perino told Sean Hannity. “Either he doesn’t know that, or he doesn’t care.”
On Fox & Friends this morning, noted tolerance expert Brian Kilmeade was quick to add his two cents.
“Sure this mid-term election is a week away, but should the President be bringing up imagery of segregation into politics?” he said. “Or do you not see it in those words?”
On Megyn Kelly’s noon hour Fox News show today, Crowley appeared personally offended at Obama’s words in Rhode Island. She called the speech “appalling.” Twice.
“‘Riding in the back’ certainly does have some Civil Rights — some racial overtones to it,” she said. “And you can’t tell me that the president of the United States was not aware of that.”
Watch our reel of Fox News digesting Obama’s remarks over the past day:
At the White House press briefing yesterday, Robert Gibbs was asked about the “sit in the back” comment Obama made in Rhode Island. Here’s his response, per Newsmax (which has also been all over Sit In The Back-gate):
“[Gibbs] portrayed it as part of the ongoing metaphor that the president has used to assert Republicans drove the economy into a ditch,” the site reports.
“The president said this weekend that the Republicans are going to ride in the back and the middle class will be in the passenger’s seat,” Gibbs said.