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NBC Panelist: Ad Calling Obama a Celebrity 'Another Attempt' to Paint Him As 'Other'

On Wednesday's NBC Today, panelist and attorney Star Jones fretted over a recent campaign ad mocking President Obama's celebrity status and implied racial overtones in the criticism: "...what worries me is that it's another attempt to paint Obama as an 'other.' You know, they tried that with 'Oh, he ate dog meat when he was a boy.'" [Listen to the audio]

Even fellow liberal panelist, advertising executive Donny Deutsch, called out Jones for her suggestion: "I hope this is not a black/white issue....Star, you're misreading." Jones stood by her accusation: "When you're pointing the finger saying he's different than us in some way, I think it's a....subconscious attempt to differentiate him from the rest."

In contrast, Deutsch gave the ad rave reviews:

It's a fantastic ad. It's interesting, Romney has been painted as a guy that's out of touch. So what they're doing now, they're flipping it around, they're going, "Oh, this guy is such a rock star," and the commercial ends with, half people – college kids are unemployed, blah, blah, blah. So they end with a somber kind of contrast. What they're setting up is that vanilla and boring is the new black. And I actually think it's a brilliant ad.

Guest panelist Kelly Osbourne chimed in on the topic: "...as a voice of the youth, to me, I look at it, and I find it empowering because, you know, it might – we have to grow with the times....[Obama] is getting the youth interested in politics again. And that really is happening."

Nancy Snyderman had to explain to Osbourne that the ad was against Obama, to which Osbourne replied: "Is against him, but what I'm saying is that they're wrong in what they're doing is because you have to grow with the times. It's all about social media..."

Deutsch further explained: "...they understand that somebody like you is voting for Obama. It's actually for people above a certain age-" Osbourne interjected: "I can't even vote. I'm English. I'm just saying."

Deutsch concluded: "It's basically just kind of saying, 'You know what? Have all the young groovy people, it's time for the grown-ups to take over." Osbourne ranted: "Yeah, but the grown-ups haven't really done that good of a job so far, have they? So why don't you give the youth a chance? Educate them."

Deutsch pointed out that Obama has "been in there for almost four years." Supposedly referring to the aforementioned "grown-ups," Osbourne argued: "It's going to take a lot more than four years to fix what they did."

Deutsch observed: "Well, it's hard to tell people who are out of work it's going to take a lot more than four years."

During the exchange between Deutsch and Osbourne, Jones kept insisting: "But real facts should be in the ad." As Deutsch earlier alluded to, the ad highlights a number of "somber" facts about the economy, like half of all recent college graduates being unemployed.

Here is a full transcript of the May 2 discussion:

8:13AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We have another topic to discuss, the new political ad released by a conservative super-PAC called American Crossroads. Take a look, it talks about the cool factor of President Obama.

[AMERICAN CROSSROADS AD]

GUTHRIE: Donny, you're our ad guy. Is this a strategy that works? Taking the likability issue that some people feel is a strength for Obama and trying to turn it into a weakness?

DONNY DEUTSCH: It's a fantastic ad. It's interesting, Romney has been painted as a guy that's out of touch. So what they're doing now, they're flipping it around, they're going, "Oh, this guy is such a rock star," and the commercial ends with, half people – college kids are unemployed, blah, blah, blah. So they end with a somber kind of contrast. What they're setting up is that vanilla and boring is the new black. And I actually think it's a brilliant ad.

STAR JONES: You know, just from an ads perspective, what worries me is that it's another attempt to paint Obama as an "other." You know, they tried that with "Oh, he ate dog meat when he was a boy." And McCain tried – wait one second – no, wait, wait

DEUTSCH: No, by the way, are you getting – okay-

JONES: No, excuse me, wait. 2008-

DEUTSCH: I hope this is not a black/white issue.
                        
JONES: Well first of all, you are the one who just said vanilla.

DEUTSCH: No, but – okay-

JONES: But wait, stop.

DEUTSCH: I didn't mean it that way.

JONES: Let me make my point. In 2008, McCain did this ad, he was the American Americans were waiting for. And it didn't work in 2008. And when you're pointing the finger saying he's different than us in some way, I think it's a-

DEUTSCH: They're elevating – no, Star, you're misreading.

JONES: I think it is a subconscious attempt...

DEUTSCH: No, no, no, no, no, no.

JONES: ...to differentiate him from the rest.

GUTHRIE: Kelly, you want to jump in here? Let Kelly jump in here.

KELLY OSBOURNE: You know, as – with great due respect, as a voice of the youth, to me, I look at it, and I find it empowering because, you know, it might – we have to grow with the times.

DEUTSCH: Empowering in which way?

OSBOURNE: That you know, he is getting the youth interested in politics again. And that really is happening.

DEUTSCH: But what they're basic – what the ad is basically saying is-

NANCY SNYDERMAN: But it's against him.

OSBOURNE: Is against him, but what I'm saying is that they're wrong in what they're doing is because you have to grow with the times. It's all about social media-

DEUTSCH: No. But listen to me, they understand that somebody like you is voting for Obama. It's actually for people above a certain age-

OSBOURNE: I can't even vote. I'm English. I'm just saying.

DEUTSCH: Okay, whatever. It's basically just kind of saying, "You know what? Have all the young groovy people, it's time for the grown-ups to take over."

SNYDERMAN: That's right.

GUTHRIE: Let's skip ahead-

JONES: But real facts should be in the ad.

OSBOURNE: Yeah, but the grown-ups haven't really done that good of a job so far, have they? So why don't you give the youth a chance? Educate them.

DEUTSCH: He's been in there for almost four years.

OSBOURNE: It's going to take a lot more than four years to fix what they did.

DEUTSCH: Well, it's hard to tell people who are out of work it's going to take a lot more than four years.  

JONES: Well, they should put some real facts in that ad, too.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.