More on the so-called (what Megan called “simplistic” and “insulting”) “Huxtable Effect” from yesterday’s Reliable Sources on CNN.

CNN’s Howard Kurtz asked one of his guests, Tara Wall (a CNN contributor and the deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Times), whether she sees what Kurtz calls “this absolute media swoon” over Obama and the Obama family “as being slightly excessive.”

WALL: Well, no. You know, it’s quite understandable.

And quite frankly, listen, there are, what, almost 70 percent of young people 18 to 29 that voted for Barack Obama. I mean, they are really appealing to, in a sense, this new generation, my generation where we had icons like the Huxtables. Remember the Huxtables, the Huxtable family, “The Cosby Show?”

This is a different kind of Cosby…

How could the media not swoon over — how could 70 percent of young people not have voted for— this? This “different kind of Cosby?”

So, with How the Huxtables Helped The Obamas On And Just After Election Day out of the way, how might The Huxtables Effect the way an actual functioning Obama White House is regarded by the press and public?

WALL:…and actually, I think it puts the spotlight on them in a way that gives them an opportunity to show some responsibility as far as being a solid family, not just a solid black family. But I think it sends a message even to the black community, where you have an illegitimate rate about 70 percent among — you know, within the black community. And you see this solid black family.


He’s spoken out about fatherhood initiatives. And I think him delivering that message and them showing this positive family ideal family is a good thing in that regard. And I think if the media focuses on some of those more core issues as it relates to that, that’s what’s going to propel us forward.

KURTZ: Well, let’s put up some pictures of the Huxtables, the famous Bill Cosby television series. And I guess my question is, will the perceptions of the typical African-American family change because we will get to know in a way, a very personal way, this new first family, or will Barack Obama come to be seen like Tiger Woods, which is, you know, after a while you don’t even think about race, and therefore it won’t really affect the sometimes stereotypical images of blacks in the media?

WALL: Well, I think, first of all, people have to remember, there are a lot of black families that do look like this in America today. I mean, we have evolved. We are not monolithic.

KURTZ: But how much do you see them in the mainstream media, where entertainment, sports figures and people who commit crimes, perhaps, tend to get featured more?

WALL: That’s true. And I think to that end, this does send a very positive message as it relates to the black family as being solid and in tact, and a positive force. Eventually, it will evolve to a almost — yes, we will evolve into a colorblind society, but I think it does send a clear message that this is what can be achieved in America today by anyone…

…with a little help from the Huxtables.


Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.