Sunday, January 13, 2008
Bob Johnson v. Barack Obama
BET Founder, Bob Johnson, criticized Senator Barack Obama for his characterization of Hillary Clinton's remarks about the Civil Rights Movement.
Speaking and introducing Clinton on Sunday, Johnson said he was insulted by the statements from the Obama camp, and even seemed to hint at Obama's alleged drug use as a young man.
Johnson was America's first black billionaire and founder of Black Entertainment Television.
Hillary Clinton had been quoted on Fox News, a network that Obama has refused to appear on, as saying that Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality could not have been realized without the help of Lyndon B. Johnson. Some argue that the message implied that African Americans would not be able to achieve their goals without the help of white leadership.
"That kind of campaign behavior would not be reasonable with me for a guy who says 'I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier,'" said Johnson. He also said that voters should be critical of Obama's record.
"To me, as an African American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues — when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book — when they have been involved," Johnson said.
Johnson was referring to Obama's book "Dreams of my Father", in which he mentions teenage drug abuse: marijuana, alchohol and some cocaine. Johnson did not mention the indiscretions of the Clinton family, including confirmed sexual promiscuity on the part of Bill Clinton during his time in the White House and the Governor's mansion.
Johnson later claimed that he was referring to Obama's work as a community organizer in Chicago "and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect," he said in a statement released by Clinton's campaign.
Obama's campaign declined to respond.
"I'm not going to spend all my time running down the other candidates, which seems to be what Senator Clinton has been obsessed with for the last month," Obama said.
Obama's strategist had more to say.
"I don't see why this is so much different from what Billy Shaheen did in New Hampshire. Senator Clinton apologized for that. It's bewildering why, since she was standing there, she had nothing to say about this," David Axelrod said.
Last month, a top Hillary Clinton advisor, Bill Shaheen, resigned after suggesting that Obama's past drug use could be used against him during the campaign.
Obama supporter "I.S." Leevy Johnson, a former South Carolina state legislator, told the Associated Press that it was "offensive" that Clinton stood by during Johnson's "personal, divisive attack on Barack Obama."
"For someone who decries the politics of personal destruction, she should've immediately denounced these attacks on the spot," Johnson said in a statement issued by Obama's campaign.
Some have also criticized Bob Johnson as being a man who has earned billions while hurting the black community. His network, Black Entertainment Television, has been considered to be responsible for a decline in the value systems of black youth in America.