Although this took place last week, the level of ignorance by a C-Span viewer was such that I couldn't let it pass. During the March 29 edition of the C-Span program Washington Journal, a Republican viewer (Bill) called in to voice his complaint about the number of blacks who called into the Republican and Independent lines. The program usually has four call-in phone numbers available for viewers who wish to comment, one each for Republicans, Democrats, Independents and one for those calling outside of the U.S. The You Tube clip below contains the segment where Bill voiced his complaint (it took place at approx. the 29 minute mark). You can click the following link to listen to the entire program.
Bill must have been referring to previous editions of The Washington Journal, because none of the callers preceding him identified their race (nor should they have to). It also wasn't definite that any of the callers he thought were Black falsely identified themselves as Republican or Independent. It sounds like Bill has a problem with the number of Blacks calling into the show. He is also making a false assumption about Independents. Apparently Bill feels that you can't be an Independent and support President Obama.
After listening to all of the callers who preceded Bill, I couldn't without a doubt identify the race of any of them. Maybe Bill took an advanced course on identifying the race of individuals based solely on their voice. He might be shocked to learn the race of either Henry Cho or Ron Christie if he saw them after first hearing them speak. My favorite line was when Bill suggested that if C-Span continues with its preference for callers of the Ebony variety, they should change their name to Black Span. The "C" in C-Span apparently stands for "Caucasian"... who knew?!
As for the way the host (Bill Scanlan) handled the call by Bill from NC, I'm going to give him a partial pass. It's not easy to know how to react when confronted live on-the-air with a caller like Bill. However, I wish that Scanlan had asked some follow-up questions:
1. How do you know for sure the race of the callers?
2. What do you mean by "every one of them"? Are you saying that all Blacks view Obama as Jesus Christ?
3. In regards to the people who directed criticism at George W. Bush, who do you mean by "they"?
I will give credit to Scanlan for letting Bill speak. As ignorant as Bill was, it's good to hear those types of opinions. Because it appeared to some that Scanlan was condoning the views of the caller, Susan Swain (Co-Chief Operating Officer of C-SPAN and a host of The Washington Journal) did some damage control a few days later:
As for Bill's question about what can be done to cut down on the number of Black callers, I hear that C-Span is working on intensifying their screening techniques...
C-Span screener to caller: Say the word "brother"
C-Span screener to caller: I'm sorry, but we've received our quota of Black callers today. Please try again at a later date.