A report emerged yesterday about an ugly incident in which someone attending the Republican convention threw nuts at an African-American CNN camerawoman and saying “This is how we feed animals.”
CNN later issued a statement saying “CNN can confirm there was an incident directed at an employee inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum earlier this afternoon. CNN worked with convention officials to address this matter and will have no further comment.”
This is odd. The report eventually appeared on a CNN blog but why would CNN not have a further comment? I can understand the Republican party or a private company not wanting to comment to a news organization about things that might embarrass them. But CNN is allegedly a news organization. Surely this incident is a legitimate news story? And it would normally be considered a scoop since no one else has access to all the facts that CNN had. News organizations may not like being part of the story but they sometimes cannot help it.
On the broader question of the incident itself, there has been a truly ugly undercurrent of racism in the way that Barack Obama’s legitimacy to be president has been questioned. Many political leaders know how to use coded language to ignite ugly passions but their more ignorant followers pick up their cues about attitudes but not the codes and this is the kind of thing that can result.
It did not help that this followed the awkward moment yesterday when for some reason a group of delegates started chanting “USA! USA!” when a Puerto Rican delegate was trying to speak at the podium. The chants may not have been directed at her but the optics were not good. These kinds of incidents cement the perception that the Republican party is anti-minority, which when added to the perceptions that it is also anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-poor does not leave it with much of a future.