NEW YORK (AP) — Rupert Murdoch, who founded the News Corp. media empire that includes Fox News Channel, apologized on Thursday for a Twitter message suggesting that President Barack Obama isn’t a “real black president.”
Murdoch praised Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his wife as terrific in a tweet Wednesday, adding, “what about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide?” In a separate message, he encouraged people to read a New York magazine article about disappointment among some blacks about the president.
Following a backlash, Murdoch tweeted Thursday: “Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he didn’t know whether Obama was aware of the tweet.
“I did note that Mr. Murdoch tweeted an apology this morning. I also noted that a Fox corporate spokesperson was asked about this and said something like ‘I’m not going to quote on Mr. Murdoch’s tweets.’ And I’m not going to either,” Earnest said Thursday.
Carson, interviewed on CNN, said he considered the controversy “much ado about nothing.”
“I know Rupert Murdoch,” Carson said. “He’s not a racist by any state of the imagination. He’s just expressing his opinion.”
Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether he considered Obama a real black president, Carson replied, “Well, he’s the president, and he’s black.” Pressed again, Carson said it was an issue of semantics. “I’m the last person who wants to deal with semantics and political correctness.”
Former Obama aide and current CNN commentator Van Jones, said on that network that he found Murdoch’s tweet “outrageous and disgusting,” and said that Fox News had done more to undermine Obama than any news organization had ever done for a president.
“This president has done everything he could do in the face of Rupert Murdoch,” Jones said. “If Rupert Murdoch cares about black people, he should tell the people at Fox News he does so, because you can’t get that from watching Fox News.”
Fox had no immediate comment.
AP White House reporter Darlene Superville contributed to this report.