Politics

Was Associated Press Reporting of Obama Speech Racist?

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

There are accusations that the Associated Press' coverage of President Obama's speech to the Black Congressional Caucus over the weekend was racist.

In quoting the president, the AP wrote this:

"Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes," he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. "Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. We are going to press on. We have work to do."

The AP reporter purposely left off the Gs in those words, which some people found racist.

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"I teach a journalism class, and I tell my students to fix people's grammar, because you don't want them to sound ignorant," author Karen Hunter said on MSNBC. "For them to do that, it's code, and I don't like it."

The reporter defended his work.

"Normally, I lean toward the clean-it-up school of quote transcribing—for everyone," Mark Smith told Mediaite. "But in this case, the President appeared to be making such a point of dropping Gs, and doing so in a rhythmic fashion, that for me to insert them would run clearly counter to his meaning. I believe I was respecting his intent in this. Certainly disrespect was the last thing I intended."

"The AP Stylebook counsels against using spellings like gonna or wanna--or in this case, complainin' and cryin'--'in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to help a desired touch or to convey an emphasis by the speaker,'" Tom Kent, the AP deputy managing editor for standards and production, said in a statement to The Cutline. "In this case, our reporter, who was there in person, felt the spellings were appropriate to convey a particular touch that President Obama appeared to be intentionally making use of."

Just for the record, when Opposing Views reported on the story on Sunday, we included the Gs.

Here is the MSNBC discussion: