Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation, is a rare breed. Not because he built one of the largest media empires on the planet, or because he’s probably worth more than the International Space Station. But because he’s one of the few people over the age of 80 with an active – and verified – Twitter account.
Rupert tweets, though not always well.
On Wednesday, the octogenarian posted his support for Dr. Ben Carson, America’s sleepiest neurosurgeon, in the 2016 presidential election. But that support also came with an odd jab at President Obama.
Barack Obama, just to be clear, is black. But for some, Murdoch’s tweet seemed to be suggesting that because the president’s mother was white, he has somehow not earned the right to identify as black. To some, Murdoch appeared to be casting himself as racial arbiter.
A surprising appointment for a pasty Australian.
But this is not what Murdoch meant. In a follow-up tweet, he referenced a New York Magazine article, "The Paradox of the First Black President." The piece explores the complex question of whether or not President Obama did enough during his two terms to address the concerns of the black community.
"That’s one of the fundamental paradoxes of Obama’s presidency – that we have the Black Lives Matter movement under a black president," the article quotes Fredrick Harris of Columbia University. "Your man is in office, and you have this whole movement around criminal-justice reform asserting black people’s humanity?"
Murdoch, then, is echoing these sentiments. While Obama may not have done enough to bridge America’s racial divide, Dr. Carson is the right man for the job.
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) October 8, 2015
— Robert Naylor Jr. (@RobertNaylorJr) October 8, 2015
Except that explanation doesn’t make much sense, either. Obama has spoken publicly on issues of race multiple times, including in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and during an in-depth interview with Marc Maron in June.
"The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives," he told Maron, "that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on."
Carson, on the other hand:
"I was asked by an NPR reporter once why don’t I talk about race that often," he during Fox News’ presidential debate. "I said: 'It’s because I’m a neurosurgeon.' And she thought that was a strange response."
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) October 8, 2015
The good doctor has actively criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, and suggested to a room full of donors, according to the Guardian, that African Americans should return to the principles of "family and faith," which he described as "the values and principles that got black people through slavery and segregation and Jim Crowism."
"We need to de-emphasize race and emphasize respect for each other," he said during a tour of Ferguson, Missouri in September, according to Reuters. "If we respect people, we can begin to understand them. Our strength is in our unity."
— AshGhebranious (@AshGhebranious) October 8, 2015
Ferguson was the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting death by a white police officer in 2014, which ignited nationwide protests concerning police brutality against minorities.
A Carson presidency would likely meet even fewer expectations of civil rights leaders’ than the Obama administration.