ABC Foams Over 'Racial' Gaffe By Republican Congressman: 11 References to GOP in Two Minutes
The reporters and hosts of Good Morning America really want you to know something: Don Young is a Republican. The ABC morning show on Saturday featured 11 mentions of the Congressman's party affiliation in a span of just two minutes. Young referred to "wetbacks" in an interview last week. An ABC graphic blared, "Congressman uses racist term."
Co-host Bianna Golodryga insisted that "this comment has created quite the headache for Republicans." Reporter Jeff Zeleny lectured, "The Republican Party's effort to rebuild and rebrand its image is colliding this morning with the party's old guard." [MP3 audio here.] To make sure everyone was clear on what party Young belonged to, the journalist added, "Republican advisers tell ABC News that they worry that the racial slur from Congressman Young comes at precisely the wrong time, just as the Republicans are trying to expand their appeal to Latino voters." In contrast, when Joe Biden smeared Indian Americans as mostly working at 7-11, ABC ignored the story.
(NBC similarly ignored Biden's 2006 gaffe, but hammered the GOP for Young's comments. For more on that, go here.)
Over a period of two minutes and one second, GMA linked Young's remark to Republicans 11 times. (The overall total was 12. Golodryga previewed the segment at the top of the show and referred to "Alaska Republican Don Young.")
While giving a interview to an Alaskan radio station, Young blurted, "My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes."
Zeleny isn't equally tough on Democrats. In 2009, while working for the New York Times, the journalist asked President Obama what "enchanted" him during the administration's first 100 days.
On Saturday, after Zeleny proclaimed how bad the comment was for a hurting GOP, co-host Dan Harris happily agreed: "Hard to spin that one, for sure."
A transcript of the March 30 segment follows:
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Back here at home in Washington, one of the most senior members of Congress is under fire for using a racial slur to describe Hispanic migrant workers. Alaska Republican Don Young quickly apologized but we'll tell you why leaders from his own party aren't accepting it.
ABC GRAPHIC: Congressman Uses Racist Term: Republican Leaders Call for Apology
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Well, now to a firestorm on Capitol Hill after a veteran Republican lawmaker used a racial slur to describe Mexican immigrants. Seventy-nine-year-old Congressman Don Young, who has been in the House since Richard Nixon was president, apologized after a barrage of criticism. ABC's Jeff Zeleny has more from Washington and, Jeff, this comment has created quite the headache for Republicans.
JEFF ZELENY: It has. Good morning, Bianna. The Republican Party's effort to rebuild and rebrand its image is colliding this morning with the party's old guard. It's a word that stings, especially when the word comes from the mouth of a congressman.
UNIDENTIFIED: The gentleman from Alaska, Mr. Young.
ZELENY: Representative Don Young, who has been in Congress for 40 years--
DON YOUNG: Madame Chair–
ZELENY: –invoked a racial slur during a radio interview at home in Alaska.
YOUNG: My father had a ranch. We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes.
ZELENY: The Congressman's words reverberated across Spanish language television including our partner, Univision.
[Spanish language audio from Univision]
ZELENY: The word is found in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary with this definition: "A Mexican who enters the united states illegally." But in the dictionary, it comes with a warning, saying it is usually offensive. Senior Republican officials agreed and delivered a sharp rebuke to the Congressman. Speaker John Boehner called the comments "beneath the dignity of the office he holds." Senator John McCain tweeted, "The remarks have no place in our party or the nation's discourse." The 79-year-old congressman apologized for those words saying "there was no malice in my heart." Republican strategist Danny Diaz is working to change the party's image. He says this kind of talk will damage the Republican brand. How much of a generational issue is this with younger Republicans and younger voters?
DON YOUNG (Danny Diaz, Republican strategist): Don Young represents the past. I think there is kind of a new brand of Republican leaders that are in the Senate and in the House.
ZELENY: And Republican advisers tell ABC News that they worry that the racial slur from Congressman Young comes at precisely the wrong time, just as the Republicans are trying to expand their appeal to Latino voters. Dan and Bianna.
DAN HARRIS: Hard to spin that one, for sure.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.