GOP in Trouble Again Over "Barack the Magic Negro"

Reporter Jason DeParle calls race-baiting Al Sharpton a "civil rights advocate" in a slanted story about a new controversy over Rush Limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro" song parody.

Reporter Jason DeParle, who was once tapped to report the conservative beat for the Times, called the hate-monger Rev. Al Sharpton a "civil rights advocate" in "Republicans Receive an Obama Parody to Mixed Reviews," a Sunday story critical of "Barack the Magic Negro," an Al Sharpton parodysong included ona CD by humorist Paul Shanklin and distributed by Chip Saltsman, a candidate for Republican National Committee chairman.

To the issues that divide the Republican Party, there comes one more. Some Republicans findhumor in the song "Barack the Magic Negro." Some most definitely do not.

The debate was joined last week after a candidate for party chairman from Tennessee, Chip Saltsman, distributed the parody, which was broadcast on the Rush Limbaugh radio show last year and questions President-elect Barack Obama's racial authenticity.

Speaking to The Hill newspaper on Friday, Mr. Saltsman, a longtime Republican operative, described it as a "light-hearted" gift that would be received in "good humor" by members of the Republican National Committee.

In a party that had big losses this year among minority voters, not everyone took it that way.

After rubbing in the fact that a party spokesman could name only two blacks on the party's 168-member national committee, DeParle explained:

The parody is sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" by a character meant to be the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights advocate and sometime political candidate. The character laments that white liberals vote for Mr. Obama while shunning his brand of more confrontational racial politics.

The 13th paragraph of the 14-paragraph story gave the other side of the story but omitted a significant detail of defense:

The song was written by a parodist, Paul Shanklin, whose work frequently airs on Mr. Limbaugh's show, and Mr. Limbaugh has defended it against critics who called it racist. Mr. Limbaugh said that it was inspired by an opinion column in The Los Angeles Times by a black writer, David Ehrenstein, who likened Mr. Obama to "warm and unthreatening" black figures like the actors Sidney Poitier and Morgan Freeman.

DeParle left out the title of Ehrenstein's March 2007 column, which strengthens Rush's case: "Obama the 'Magic Negro.'"