Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MSNBC Host: It Wouldn't Be 'Funny' If Someone Called Me 'Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady'

Posted by Ben Armbruster, Think Progress at 4:36 PM on December 29, 2008.

Tamron Hall slams Kate Obenshain for defending Chip Saltman's controversial Christmas greeting.

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Today on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall hosted a segment discussing RNC chair candidate Chip Saltsman's Christmas greeting this year that contained a CD with the song "Barack the Magic Negro" on it. During the discussion, Kate Obenshain, vice president of Young America's Foundation, defended the song, calling it "a parody." But Hall, an African-American, quickly interjected, saying there is nothing "funny or amusing" it:

HALL: Well let me tell you this -- if someone referred to me as "Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady," I would never see it as anything funny or amusing.

Hall later told Obenshain, "you're not going to win a lot of people over calling them 'Magic Negros.'"]Transcript:

HALL: So Kate, you were the former chairman of the Virginia Republican Party. What do you think of this song and the title?OBENSHAIN: Look, I agree with Jamal that it was a huge mistake by Chip to send this out. I think it was foolish for somebody running to be the face of the party and the chief strategist of the party.I will point out though that the magic negro first appeared in the “Los Angeles Times” as an editorial, and it is a parody. It is, I mean, the appropriateness of Rush Limbaugh running this show — this song is — it is a perfectly appropriate thing to point out absurdity through use of the absurd. He’s basically criticizing Al Sharpton and this columnist for saying Barack Obama wasn’t black enough. Now, was it appropriate for Chip Saltsman to send it out? No, it was foolish. We need for our conservative leaders to be clearly articulating those principles that bring a broad spectrum of individuals to the republican party, something our candidate for president wasn’t able to do.SIMMONS: I will quibble with one point that was just made. I don’t think there’s anything about this — if you actually watch the video, its not defending al sharpton or ridiculing someone for making fun of al sharpton. They’re sort of throwing al sharpton in the pot along with barack obama.OBENSHAIN: They’re not criticizing Barack Obama. This is a parody of Al Sharpton and others who would say Barack Obama wasn’t black enough. The absurdity of saying that this man shouldn’t be president because he’s not black enough. That is what the parody is all about. It’s not criticizing Barack Obama at all but –HALL: But you’re calling him a Magic Negro!OBENSHAINE: That is what the columnist called him!HALL: You know, I’m trying to be open-minded – I’m not saying you, you’re saying it’s a parody –OBENSHAIN: Listen to the song!HALL: I can hear it and I have read it.OBENSHAIN: Read Rush Limbaugh’s explanation for it then and recognize that it is not mocking Barack Obama. This is why it’s so foolish for Saltsman to do it.HALL: Well let me tell you this — if someone referred to me as “Tamron Hall the Magic Negro Anchor Lady,” I would never see it as anything funny or amusing. I do agree with you, there is a way to parody things that might be, you know –OBENSHAIN: On a radio show, on a radio show, not for the candidate for the republican national committee chair. I agree with you completely it was foolish for somebody who needs to be reaching out to African Americans, to women to individuals from all backgrounds.HALL: Yeah, you’re not going to win a lot of people over calling them magic negros.OBENSHAIN: It was a foolish thing to do.SIMMONS: Judging by the election that we had this past November, I think there are also probably a lot of non african-americans who wouldn’t find this to be an appropriate song.OBENSNAIN: It’s not appropriate to send out.HALL: Ok Kate, I think that’s the best note to end it this on because I don’t want anyone to think that you are defending it.OBENSHAIN: I’m defending Rush Limbaugh.HALL: Kate, Jamal and Tamron and Jamal, we all agree that the magic negro song is just not right.


Tagged as: racism, gop, rnc, msnbc, tamron hall

Benjamin J. Armbruster is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress.

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