Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rokita Learned Of Controversy From "A Blog"

He delivered the controversial speech at a Lincoln-Reagan dinner in Washington, Indiana last Thursday. The story carrying his controversial comment that blacks were in a slave-like relationship with the Democratic Party ran in the Washington Herald-Times on Friday. But Secretary of State Todd Rokita (R) did not learn the comment was generating a firestorm until Advance Indiana discussed the comment in a post on Saturday. That prompted him to begin making phone calls to African-American leaders yesterday morning, and, eventually issuing a public apology yesterday afternoon. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports:

Rokita was the keynote speaker at Daviess County's annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner Thursday. Part of his speech addressed the large numbers of black voters who support Democrats rather than Republicans.

"How can that be?" Rokita was quoted as saying by the county's Washington Times-Herald newspaper. "Ninety to 10. Who's the master and who's the slave in that relationship?"

Rokita said his intent was to encourage Republicans to reach out to diversify the GOP. He was speaking without a prepared text but said he did not think he had misspoken in any way until learning later that his comments were being dissected on a blog.

"Once I realized how it was being characterized, I could see how it could have been seen," he said.

He said he then "reached out to leaders in the African-American community to explain."

I can't let this pass without noting Schneider refers only to "a blog" in mentioning Rokita first learned there was a controversy. She doesn't just say a "newspaper" when discussing the quote from the Washington Times-Herald. Typically, reporters won't even acknowledge a blog had anything to do with a story so I guess it's a step forward to be mentioned as "a blog", if not named.

It also appears Rokita's apology yesterday will not be enough to satisfy African-American leaders. Schneider writes:

Secretary of State Todd Rokita said Monday he's seeking "forgiveness" for comparing black support of Democrats to a master-slave relationship -- but some black lawmakers said that isn't enough.

They want an apology, with no "ifs" about it.

Rokita, in an interview and in a written statement, acknowledged poorly choosing his words in a speech Thursday to an all-white audience at a Republican Party dinner in Southern Indiana.

"If I offended anyone," Rokita said, "then I ask forgiveness for the insensitive metaphor." Rep. Bill Crawford of Indianapolis -- one of 12 black legislators, all Democrats -- said those words did not amount to an apology.

"If he offended? He offended," Crawford said.

Today, Rokita is expressing his regrets on WXNT's "Abdul in the Morning" show with Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, which has a mostly-white audience. He will appear this afternoon on WTLC's "Amos In The Afternoon" show with Amos Brown, which has a largely African-American audience. "Brown said he told Rokita "he needs to come in (to the studio) and talk face to face so I could look him in the eye,'" Schneider reported.


Wilson46201 said...

I hope I don't damn you with praise BUT

Good work, Gary!

Gary R. Welsh said...

I'll take the compliment, Wilson. I believe you were the first to notice the post on Saturday.

Doug said...

Hey now, it's possible that Rokita heard about the discussion at my blog after I shamelessly lifted it from you (with attribution, of course.) Probably not, but a guy can dream.

Nicely done, AI.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks, Doug. Your posting preceded the mainstream coverage as well. I think nothing would have ever become of it had the blogs not discussed it.

Anonymous said...

Nothing would have become of it had the newspaper not reported it in the first place.