AP under fire for ‘racist’ transcription of Obama speech

African-American author Karen Hunter called out the Associated Press  on MSNBC for transcribing a speech given by Obama using grammar that could be considered racist.

In the transcription of the speech, the AP transcribed the dialect used by the President instead of following proper AP style. The transcription reads as follows:

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

Hunter believed the dropping of the “g” was a discriminatory representation of the President. She referred to the grammar mistake as “inherently racist,” on the popular news network. The journalism professor and author took great offense to the transcription of the speech.

The AP reporter who filed the story counter argued that the President had made a point of leaving the “g” off the words, and the transcription was an accurate portrayal of the speech. The reporter believed that adding the “g” to the end of the words would subtract from the meaning of the speech.

Does this story stress the importance of using proper grammar and AP style in news stories, or the controversy an over reaction to the transcription?


3 Comments on “AP under fire for ‘racist’ transcription of Obama speech”

  1. dsulmers says:

    I can’t even really be polite about this….. “OH NO THEY DIDN’T!!!!!!” This is extremely disrespectful to me. No one put Texas Twangs on former President Bush’s speeches… this is unacceptable AP style transcribers. I realize that he is the first African American President but he had to get here somehow and even though that might be how he sounds they need to record him as they would any other president color aside. Oh man this makes me mad.

    DeeDee S.

  2. sutlive2 says:

    I agree with the Assistant Professor at Hunter College Karen Hunter when she said the AP’s transcript is racist only if the reader looks at the transcript out of context. However when the reader listens to and watches a recording of the original speech that Obama gave to the Congressional Black Caucus the listener will find that Obama actually drops the g. In my opinion the transcriber from the AP was right for dropping all the gs except for “cryin”. I believe that Obama used a soft g for crying.
    Even though Hunter stated that the AP’s version was “inherently racist” http://yhoo.it/rhxpqb John McWhorter, a known linguistics expert argued that the g-less version was correct and that Obama’s ability to “switch into that [black] dialect” had a big effect on Obama’s 2008 election victory http://bit.ly/rjYxXp. Hunter said that it represents people better if you fix the letters that they drop. “I teach a Journalism class” http://bit.ly/rjYxXp. She tells her “students to fix people’s grammar, because you don’t want them to sound ignorant” http://bit.ly/rjYxXp. I believe that this comment about Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus is out of hand. Everyone knows who the President of the United States is, Barack Hussein Obama i.e. Barack Obama. Barack Obama is not ignorant and knows how to give a specific type of speech with specific word choices based on who he is speaking to. Later on McWhorter noted that in a situation where a journalist leaves the gs on the presidents words the journalist might be “whitewashing the President’s speech, in a way that suggests that there’s something wrong with such a manner of speech” http://bit.ly/rjYxXp. In a Chris Hayes panel debate that is at http://bit.ly/rjYxXp Hunter said journalists and reporters need to be supper sensitive to the way they transcribe Obama’s speeches http://bit.ly/rjYxXp.

    A Commenter, GRBSPR responded to the article AP Reporter Responds To Chris Hayes Panel Debate On Racism Of Droppin’ G’s From Obama Speech, saying everything is racist. Another commenter, Sean68 replied saying
    “That was my thought also. And she knew on that panel that none of the white guys would give her any push back because white liberals generally never question black inferences of racism. They don’t feel they have the right. But she did seem genuinely surprised that John McWorter questioned her take on the issue” http://bit.ly/rjYxXp. The MSNCB video is at the bottom of the article.

  3. Rachel Metea says:

    It’s frustrating to see that this is even an issue. So the reporter should have altered the quotes because of the speaker’s race?? That’s a travesty of Journalism Ethics and Race 1 01 if I’ve ever heard it.

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