chapter  2
Newsroom Diversity and Representations of Race
Pages 21

In 2008 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated that he expected then presidential nominee Barack Obama to “fare better electorally than previous black presidential aspirants partly because of his lighter skin tone and lack of ‘Negro dialect’” (Greenberg, January 10, 2010 , n.p.). These comments from the Nevada Democrat caused some members of the Republican Party to call for Reid’s resignation and drew comparisons to controversial remarks made by former U.S. Senator Trent Lott in 2002 who praised Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential candidacy and his support for racial segregation. Reid apologized directly to Obama and the president defended the senator and lauded his record on civil rights, but the firestorm continued to brew. At issue by most accounts in mainstream media was whether Democrats were being hypocritical in their pass of Reid’s comments in light of the earlier fallout from Lott’s remarks. In other words, the issue was being reported as another dichotomous political battle in which both sides saw an opportunity to score points by feigning outrage.