Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has suggested that Barack Obama was not a “real black” president in a tweet praising Republican candidate Ben Carson on Wednesday night.
Murdoch, who has repeatedly praised Carson in recent months, tweeted: “Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black president who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.”
Ben and Candy Carson terrific. What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) October 8, 2015
He then directed followers to an article in New York magazine that he said showed “minority community disappointment” with the president’s record.
However, his earlier tweet directly implied that Obama, whose mother was a white American and whose father was a Kenyan studying in the United States, did not deserve to be classified as African American. Both of Carson’s parents were black and born in the United States.
Murdoch touched upon an old critique of Obama that the president is removed from the African American experience because none of his ancestors were slaves in the United States. In his 2004 Senate race in Illinois, Obama was able, in the words of The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber, to use his “exotic background to neutralize race as an issue”.
However, Obama has long identified as black and spoken frankly about the African American experience and the problems posed by racism in the United States.
In contrast, the Republican presidential candidate has hesitated to view issues through a racial lens, and has, for example, criticised Black Lives Matters activists for “creating strife”.
During the first presidential debate in August, Carson, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, shared an anecdote with moderator Megyn Kelly to explain this.
“I was asked by an NPR reporter once why don’t I talk about race that often,” said Carson. “I said: ‘It’s because I’m a neurosurgeon.’ And she thought that was a strange response.
“I said: ‘You see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that because our strength as a nation comes in our unity.’”
Murdoch has tweeted frequently in praise of Carson, writing last week: “Everywhere pundits keep underestimating Ben Carson. But public understand humility as admirable, listen to the multifaceted strong message.”
Last month, Murdoch said Carson was “maybe the one to beat”, calling him “irreproachable on background, achievements, character, vision”.
Murdoch said he was reading Carson’s “wonderful” book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future, and told a follower on Twitter he would “recommend it to everybody”.
The media tycoon’s views appear to have moved on since March this year, when he lamented the surgeon’s political naivety: