Obama the ‘Cotton-Picking President’
CNN's Rick Sanchez has apologized after referring to Barack Obama as the "cotton-picking president of the United States," which some have termed "racially tinged."
CNN’s Rick Sanchez has apologized after referring to Barack Obama as the “cotton-picking president of the United States,” which some have termed “racially tinged.” His apology contains the back story:
This is what works about having a conversation with my viewers throughout this newscast, because you know that I’m here on Twitter and I read what you write during the commercial breaks. And many of you are pointing out a fault that I just- a faux pas that I just made, and I want to apologize for it, because I obviously didn’t mean any disrespect or anything when I said that.
But I was having that conversation with Jessica Yellin, and I think I said something to the effect- it’s so frustrating that people are lying about the president of the United States, that people are saying these things and it seems like he is defenseless to try and deal with it- although this weekend, the President came out and defended himself. And we had a very ample conversation about what it is that the President did, what he didn’t do, what his detractors say about him and what he can or can’t do.
In the middle of that conversation, at one point, I said, why can’t the president of the United States seem to figure this out? After all, he is the cotton-picking president of the United States. Well, soon after I said that, I started getting some Tweets from some of you, saying, you just said ‘cotton-picking president of the United States’ about the first black president of the United States? Without even realizing it?
I’ve was just saying ‘cotton picking’ because it’s a term that I’ve used because I grew up in the South. It’s a point that’s often used to illustrate frustration- not in any way shown to use- used to show any kind of disrespect. However, I apologize nonetheless for using it, in case it was taken by anyone as an act of disrespect. So, there you go.
Having also grown up in the South, I not only take Sanchez’ explanation at face value but understood it before he gave it. “Cotton-picking” is one of a number of phrases used in substitution for profanity in polite Southern speech. He would just have easily used the phrase for a white president.
Given the unfortunate connotations, however, offering an apology and explanation was the right course.