- CNN anchor John King asked after Tuesday debate between Democratic candidates if Bernie Sanders’ endorsement from the party’s progressive freshman Congresswomen of color could be seen as “too urban.”
- He said reported plans by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib to endorse Sanders would “certainly help” him, but other candidates would ask “is this too far left, is this too uncompromising, is it too urban?”
- King later tweeted that his words had “nothing to do with color” and said he was speaking in light of the debate and current state of the Democratic party, where “some candidates argue parts of the party are too liberal, too urban.”
- “Urban,” while nominally used to refer to densely populated areas like cities, is sometimes used as a synonym for black or latinx people and communities.
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CNN anchor John King asked after Tuesday’s Democratic debate if an endorsement for Bernie Sanders from some the party’s most famous freshmen women of colour could be “too urban.”
He was responding to a report in The Washington Post that New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will endorse Sanders, and a CNN report that Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib will also do so. Since the debate, Omar has officially endorsed Sanders.
He said that these endorsements will “certainly help” Sanders, but could also “have some of the other candidates say: Wait a minute, is this too far left, is this too uncompromising, is it too urban, is it too internet, does the Democratic party need to find a broader audience?”
King tweeted on Wednesday that his use of the word “urban” was “nothing to do with color.”
“Please don’t take a snippet and twist my words. I said they are leading new voices in the party but also part of the debate we saw on stage tonight …. some candidates argue parts of the party are too liberal, too urban. Was a policy point. Nothing to do with color,” he wrote.
—John King (@JohnKingCNN) October 16, 2019
“Urban,” while nominally used to refer to densely populated areas like cities, is sometimes used as a synonym for black or latinx people and communities.
Some Twitter users highlighted this usage to King. One wrote: “‘urban’ and ‘inner cities’ has always been a dog whistle for POC and you know this.”
After Tuesday’s debate, King said that the endorsements would be a “extension” of what was debated on Thursday: “A debate about not only who is going to lead the party, but where is the party going to go, which part of the party is going to lead the party into the 2020 election.”
Of the Congresswomen, he said: “They are part of the younger, fresher face, more aggressive, more liberal, less compromising, less talk about working with Republicans.”
“And one of the questions for Bernie Sanders has been, in a very different race this time, can he find a lane to victory. There is no doubting his fundraising, there is no doubting the depths of his support across the country. But is it in the teens? Can he get it into the 20s? How do you win?”
—Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) October 16, 2019
Omar, who represents a district in Minnesota, and Tlaib, who represents Michigan, are members of a group of progressive freshman Congresswomen often referred to as “The Squad” alongside Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All are women of color.
The Congresswomen have sparred with some of the older Democrats about the direction of the party, and they are more outspoken about topics like impeaching Trump — sometimes appearing to set, or at least influence, the party’s agenda.
None of the Congresswomen have spoken about King’s analysis, but Ocasio-Cortez did share criticism of the debate on Twitter. She retweeted Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a former presidential candidate, who said that it was “completely inexcusable” that there was “Not one single question about the climate crisis.”