Last night following President Obama’s first State of the Union address, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews surprised many viewers when he admitted that during the president’s speech he “forgot [Obama] was black tonight for an hour.”
WATCH CHRIS MATTHEWS’ STATEMENT ON OBAMA’S RACE
[MSNBCMSN video=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”35114570″ id=”msnbc7b73c4″]
Following this statement, Twitter erupted, the blogs began chattering and Matthews was drawing so much heat for his remarks that he returned on air several minutes later to clarify and defend his statement.
Despite Matthews’ explanation, some critics, and African-Americans in particular, took issue with the comments, especially the emphasis on President Obama being ‘post-racial’. “I think it’s worth noting that Chris Matthews wasn’t trying to take a shot at anybody,” Ta’Nehesi Coates writes in The Atlantic, “But I think it’s most worth noting that ‘I forgot Obama was black’ — in all its iterations — is something that white people should stop saying, if only because it’s really dishonest,” adding “Chris Matthews didn’t forget Barack Obama was black. Chris Matthews forgot that Chris Matthews was white.”
In an interview with theGrio, Matthews said, “I thought I was saying something wonderful and positive about America.”
“One million times I’d say the same thing again and again,” he added.
Matthews implores his critics to take another look at the footage from Wednesday night. He strongly believes that if people listen carefully to the words that he spoke that they will see he was only trying to point out that members of Congress and Americans watching the president’s speech at home “saw [Obama] as an individual person and as our leader” not as part of a racial or ethnic group.
“I thought he led the country last night,” said Matthews. He is surprised but untroubled by the commentary and conversation stirred up by his post-State of the Union remarks. “I don’t think people heard what I said,” Matthews insisted.
He says he will never back down from speaking honestly about race or any other controversial topic. “I’m going to keep telling the truth. I’m gonna look for the anthropological and sociological thing that is different from one year ago.” Matthews said that he may revisit the debate over his remarks on Hardball later this evening.
When it comes to matters of race, Matthews, who less than two weeks ago co-hosted a national forum on race with black radio host Tom Joyner called Obama’s America: 2010 and Beyond, says, “Let’s keep learning, we’re all each others’ teachers.”