Bryant Gumbel begins a new career as a morning show host with the Monday debut of The Early Show on CBS. The Boston Globe reported, "Gumbel demanded and received assurances from his bosses that he wouldnt get called into the principals office every morning for speaking his mind." When Gumbel used NBCs Today to speak his mind on race, he often found America was hopelessly racist, especially conservatives:
"Blacks have looked at the past eight years and seen this administration retreat from civil rights, retreat from affirmative action, make South Africa no priority, continue to see a greater disparity economically between blacks and whites, foster a spirit of racism that hasnt been seen in 20-plus years." To Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, January 19, 1989 Today.
"This test is not going to tell you whether youre a racist or a liberal." Previewing his prime-time special The Racial Attitudes and Consciousness Exam (RACE), September 5, 1989 Today.
"George Bush has been at the focal point of incidents that have exacerbated race relations in this country....the Willie Horton affair, for example. Making affirmative action a front-and-center proposal. Constantly discussing welfare as a problem in this country. Things that really separate the races rather than bring them together." May 18, 1992 Today.
"If Im a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washingtons promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the courts inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldnt I vent my anger?" To U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on the Los Angeles riots over the first Rodney King verdict, April 15, 1993, Today.
"Gumbel opposed the violent reaction [the L.A. riots], but would not condemn it. Everyone is quick to want you to condemn them, but some of us that are sitting in this position feel uncomfortable being asked to do that, he said. When the violence was being perpetrated on these people on an ongoing basis, did America see it? Certainly not, he said. Black people are being killed by the handfuls in that area on an ongoing basis, and basically America doesn't care." From a Knight-Ridder news story by Marc Gunther, May 13, 1993.
"Its been written that being black in America is like being a witness at your own lynching. Why didnt your experience make you more resentful than you are today?" To criminal-turned-Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall, March 22, 1994 Today.
"Youre aligned to a party which owes many of its victories to the so-called religious right and other conservative extremists who are historically insensitive to minority concerns. That doesnt bother you?" To U.S. Rep.-elect J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), November 9, 1994 Today.
"I dont know if I have a liberal bent...But it is fair to say its very difficult for a black man in this country to be of a conservative bent. Thats a fair statement. Its very difficult to be an African-American male, and have an African- American son who is going to be 18 years of age, and hear things like cops want to crack down and send more to prison, to hear calls for tougher statutes, less welfare, less programs for the poor, and less things for people of color. If that says Im not conservative, so be it." In the January 2, 1997 USA Today, a day before his last morning at Today.
"I said to somebody that if O.J. killed his first wife, Marguerite [who is black], and her friend, then do I think George Will and William F. Buckley would have written about it? No way. Not on Gods green earth. They wouldnt have even noticed." In a Los Angeles Times Magazine profile, January 12, 1997 (Brackets theirs). - Tim Graham