If President Obama’s ill-advised rambling on Henry Louis Gates Jr. blunted his healthcare message last night–and if that contributes to a failure to pass reforms–then it only makes sense to blame the reporter who asked about it at the end of the evening.
Who was that?
The answer, per Mediaite, is Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet, a reporter whose rise to national prominence has mirrored Obama’s.
Here’s the whole Q&A:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you? And what does it say about race relations in America?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I — I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.
I don’t know all the facts. What’s been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house; there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place.
So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into — well, I guess this is my house now, so — (laughter) — it probably wouldn’t happen.
(Chuckling.) But let’s say my old house in Chicago — (laughter) — here I’d get shot. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. They’re — they’re — they’re reporting. The police are doing what they should. There’s a call. They go investigate. What happens?
My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I’m sure there’s some exchange of words. But my understanding is — is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house, and at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped.
Now, I’ve — I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
And number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. That’s just a fact.
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