What’s In a Name?

Some analysts wonder why Obama didn't mention Martin Luther King Jr. by name

Tavis Smiley asked his two favorite contributors, Princeton professor Cornel West and Bennett College president Julianne Malveaux to weigh in on Obama’s speech.

The two African-American intellectuals wonder why Obama referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as a “preacher from Georgia” and never by name.

“The brother dropped the historical baton,” Malveaux said, disappointed that Obama didn’t delve deeper into the history of the civil rights movement and the significance of the anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech. Hillary Clinton talked about Harriet Tubman, but Obama didn’t.

This is an interesting insight, and one that I didn’t hear mentioned in other analysis. In general, the PBS coverage has been impressive, and soothing: Switching from the screamy tones of Chris Matthews to the calm that Jim Leher exudes was a much-needed respite on this binge of cable news consumption.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.