As Big Journalism readers know, a New York Times reporter accused a speaker at CPAC of using “racial tones” and “racial stereotypes.”
I was that speaker.
Last week, I was invited to participate on a panel to discuss my forthcoming book, Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation. The New York Times’ Kate Zernike wrote up the speech for the NYT’s “Caucus” blog. This was her headline:
CPAC Speaker Bashes Obama, in Racial Tones.
In the very first paragraph, Zernike writes, “How can conservatives win the youth vote that overwhelmingly went for Barack Obama in 2008? At the Conservative Political Action Conference, apparently, some are betting on using racial stereotypes.”
Her evidence? Nothing I actually said, but to her tin ears, I was allegedly channeling a “Chris Rock” voice. Yes, Chris Rock.
Regarding my closing statement, Zernike opines, “Can we save our generation from Obama zombies, he [Mattera] asked. He answered himself by borrowing the president’s campaign slogan: ‘Yes, my brothahs and sistahs. Yes we can!'” Obviously, Zernike is insinuating I purposely mispronounced the words “brothers” and “sisters” in order to mock black people, particularly President Obama.
Now to the facts:
For those of you who don’t know me, I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. In fact, I spent 18 years of my life there. I, like most New Yorkers, have a discernable speech pattern, a reality that shouldn’t come as a surprise to an employee of the New York Times.
My alleged “Chris Rock” voice is actually the way I sound every day. Zernike could have figured this out for herself had she spoken with me in person (trust me, I’ll talk to anyone), or at least she could have taken a minute to pull up one of my YouTube videos. Instead, Zernike, who must consider herself some kind of dialect expert, attempted to tarnish my name and stigmatize CPAC for inciting racial animus towards our President. All based on… my Brooklyn accent! You can’t make this stuff up.
And thus, here is my formal request for the New York Times to completely retract Zernike’s vile smear. There is no more serious charge in American society than the accusation of racism and Zernike leveled such a charge against me, a person she has never met, on the basis of something as flimsy as her limited understanding of my speech pattern. Not only should the Times correct the record promptly, but they should hand Zernike a pink slip for such a bald-faced character assassination
For the record, Zernike must not even know what it means to impersonate Chris Rock. I sound nothing like him. Nothing. Judge for yourself. In any event, she obviously has her own racial demons to wrestle with if she thinks, as she apparently does, that all minorities sound the same. As a Puerto Rican man, I find such characterizations absurd and offensive.
Moreover, the Left continues to devalue the meaning of the word racism. To them, politicians driving pickup trucks and Tea Party activists protesting government spending have racial overtones. Remember when the media elites told us that the election of Barack Obama would heal America’s racial wounds? Ha! Just a year into his presidency and all of a sudden delivering a speech with a Brooklyn accent is treated like a hate crime.
How’s that post-racial America working out for you, New York Times?