Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and an expert on political rhetoric, spoke about the media's handling of race in the 2008 presidential campaign in an appearance last night (May 7) on The NewsHour.
"If you look at the words that are being used, you see words that are largely undefined," Jamieson told the NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown. "And, as a result, a lot of people are having to build in their own assumptions about what's meant."
"So, for example, `If you ask, what is meant when people say that Senator Obama has a post-racial candidacy, or that the Reverend Wright controversy burst the post-racial bubble?' I don't know what that means. What does it mean when somebody says that someone is playing the gender card or the race card?
"And those who think they know might want to go back and look at all the times that that is a positive concept and all the times that it's a negative concept and ask what those things have in common.
"We have, as a result, words that are being used without being defined, and, as a result, context isn't being illuminated. We're simplifying. And another of those is `the race issue.'"