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Monday, November 14, 2005

Another day, another lie

Duck, it's a flying lying Oreo

Ehrlich bristles at Oreo skeptics
Account of Steele pelted by cookies in '02 under scrutiny
By Andrew A. Green
Sun reporter
Originally published November 13, 2005

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that he is angry at "revisionism" from political opponents who question a much-repeated story about Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele being pelted with Oreos during a 2002 campaign debate in Baltimore.


Paul Schurick, Ehrlich's communications director, said last week that he saw people passing out packages of the cookies outside Morgan State University's fine arts center before the debate and that when Steele entered the auditorium about 15 minutes before the start, people let fly with the cookies.

"It was raining Oreos," Schurick said. "They were thick in the air like locusts. I was there. It was very real. It wasn't subtle."

As for those who question the story, Ehrlich said yesterday: "They're not going to be able now to reinvent something that a lot of people saw. Just go ask people who were there."

News reports of the event, which was sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, extensively described the raucous and sometimes rude behavior of the crowd - especially by supporters of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democratic nominee for governor. At one point, Kweisi Mfume, who was then head of the NAACP, interrupted the proceedings to implore the crowd to calm down.

The first reference to the Oreo incident came five days later in an article in The Sun in which Schurick, then a spokesman for the Ehrlich campaign, said Townsend supporters distributed the cookies in the audience. He also said the crowd booed Ehrlich's family - a detail that was reported on debate night - and scratched the paint on Ehrlich supporters' cars with their keys.

Clint Coleman, a spokesman for Morgan State who was at the event, said he saw lots of unseemly behavior but no Oreos.

"There were a lot of things, disturbances, by this group of outsiders who were bent on disrupting the debate," Coleman said. "But I never actually saw Oreo cookies being thrown at him."

As for "raining Oreos," Coleman said, "I can tell you that did not happen."

Neil Duke, who moderated the event for the NAACP, said last week that he didn't see any cookies.

"Were there some goofballs sitting in [the] right-hand corner section tossing cookies amongst themselves and acting like sophomores, as the legend has it?" Duke said. "I have no reason to doubt those sources; I just didn't see it."

Wayne Frazier, president of the Maryland-Washington Minority Contractors Association said he watched Steele walk into the auditorium that night but saw no Oreos.

"I was there the whole time and did not see any of the so-called Oreo cookie incident," Frazier said. "It could have happened and I didn't see it, but I was in the auditorium from start to finish."

Steele campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said last week that the cookies "were clearly thrown at the lieutenant governor." He said Steele would not respond to questions about the event.

So, all the black people in the audience were lying?

The urban myth grew, not because the Oreos flew from the audience, but because the audience was openly hostile to Steele and his views. He was extremely unpopular with the black audience.

But think about this: Steele, who will not say whether this actually happened, and if it didn't, lets yet another slander against black people go uncommented on, is reminding voters, yet again, of how unpopular he is with black Marylanders.

Why bring this up? It doesn't make Steele look like a strong, independent candidate, but someone so despised by his own people, they would insult him in public. Erlich bringing this up makes Steele look weak. Because while the cookies probably didn't get tossed on the stage, the audience made their contempt clear and noted.

Oddly, where are Steele's black supporters denouncing this? Project 21 doesn't count. Where are the black Marylanders defending him.

So once again, the Steele campaign trades in lies, first about me being a Democratic operative, now about the flying oreos, which evidently didn't happen.

But the larger question is why this may have happened. It is because, when confronted by a large audience of African Americans, he is reviled as someone who lacks the character to represent them.

Either way, you have a situation where Steele is a victim and looks weak and unable to defend himself. Voters, black and white, love voting for weak, victimlike candidates.

posted by Steve @ 2:15:00 PM

2:15:00 PM

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