think before you speak
June 11, 2020

Steve Huffman, a Republican state senator in Ohio, has been fired from his job as an emergency room doctor after asking earlier this week whether the "colored population" is being hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic because they "do not wash their hands as well as other groups."

Huffman posed the question to Angela Dawson, executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, during a hearing on whether racism should be declared a public health crisis. He said he understood that "African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from COVID. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get COVID? Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?"

Dawson responded, "That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country. Do all populations need to wash their hands? Absolutely, sir, but that is not where you are going to find the variance and the rationale for why these populations are more vulnerable."

Huffman's comments drew ire from other lawmakers and the public, and on Thursday, he was fired from TeamHealth, with the company telling The Washington Post, "Dr. Huffman's comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace."

Huffman spoke with the Post on Wednesday night, and said he thought the phrases "people of color" and "colored population" were "interchangeable." His question, he said, was "rhetorical," as he was "trying to focus on why COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate since we really do not know all the reasons." He also said that when it comes to providing medical treatment, "anybody that comes into any emergency room, I give them the very best care regardless of what race they are." Catherine Garcia

January 17, 2019

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) apologized to Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) on Thursday after he yelled "Go back to Puerto Rico!" as Cárdenas waited to speak on the House floor.

Smith had his outburst after Congress had adjourned and lawmakers were arguing over a bill to fund the government through the end of next month. Cárdenas said at first, it wasn't clear who shouted, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) scolded his colleagues, saying, "I would hope that we could refrain from any implications that have any undertones of prejudice or racism or any kind of -ism that would diminish the character and integrity of one of our fellow members." Cárdenas told The Washington Post that hours later, Smith called him and "took responsibility for the comment and sincerely apologized." Cárdenas, the son of Mexican immigrants, accepted.

Joey Brown, Smith's communications director, told the Post that Smith was "speaking to all the Democrats who were down vacationing in Puerto Rico last weekend during the shutdown, not any individual." About 30 House and Senate Democrats visited Puerto Rico to bring attention to the fact that the island is still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria. Cárdenas is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' fundraising arm, Bold PAC, and organized the delegation. Catherine Garcia

June 24, 2018

David Bossie, who once served as President Trump's deputy campaign manager, 
apologized on Sunday after appearing on Fox & Friends and telling his fellow panelist, Joel Payne, he was out of his "cotton-picking mind."

Bossie and Payne, who served as an aide to former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), were on the show discussing comparisons between concentration camps and detention centers where the children of undocumented immigrants are being held. At one point, Bossie told Payne, "You're out of your cotton-picking mind," to which Payne replied, "Cotton-picking mind? Brother let me tell you something, I've got some relatives who picked cotton and I'm not going to sit here and allow you to attack me like that on TV."

The show's host, Ed Henry, later said Bossie's comments were "obviously offensive," and he wanted to "make clear Fox News and this show, myself, we don't agree with that particular phrase." Bossie tweeted his apology, saying, "During a heated segment on Fox & Friends today, I should have chosen my words more carefully and never used the offensive phrase that I did. I apologize to Joel Payne, Fox News, and its viewers." Payne told MSNBC he has accepted Bossie's apology, but felt "demeaned" and struggled to keep his composure. "Unfortunately, that's par for the course for this president and the people who surround him," he said. Catherine Garcia

October 17, 2017

A Florida congresswoman is upset over a comment President Trump made to the widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four troops killed earlier this month when they were ambushed by Islamist militants in Niger.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D) told Local 10 News that Trump called Myeshia Johnson on Tuesday afternoon and they spoke for about five minutes, with Trump at one point telling Johnson: "He knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens it hurts anyway." "Yes, he said it," Wilson said. "It's so insensitive. He should have not said that. He shouldn't have said it." Myeshia Johnson is pregnant and due in January, and has two other children with her late husband, a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. After the phone call with Trump, Myeshia Johnson, her family, and friends went to Miami International Airport to wait for the Delta flight to arrive carrying her husband's flag-covered casket.

La David Johnson, 25, was a Walmart employee before becoming a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Details surrounding the ambush that killed him on Oct. 4 are still murky, but the troops reportedly did not have any air cover and were in unarmored trucks when the attack took place. Trump has come under fire for not saying anything about the deaths or the botched mission, and he tried to turn things around by erroneously telling reporters that former President Barack Obama didn't call the families of fallen troops; he later tried to backtrack, saying Obama "probably did sometimes" call and "maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told." Catherine Garcia

June 14, 2017

David Bonderman, the founder of private equity firm TPG Capital, resigned from the Uber board Tuesday after he made comments he called "careless, inappropriate, and inexcusable."

Bonderman made his comments during a meeting at Uber to discuss how to move forward following an investigation into sexual harassment at the company, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo Finance. After Uber board member Arianna Huffington said there is data that shows "when there's one woman on the board, it's much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board," Bonderman replied: "Actually, what it shows is that it's much more likely to be more talking."

In an email apologizing to Uber staff, Bonderman said his remarks were "the opposite of what I intended," and he told Reuters in a statement he does not want his words to create a distraction for Uber. Catherine Garcia

March 21, 2016

After Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore made disparaging remarks about the Women's Tennis Association on Sunday, Serena Williams fired back, calling his comments "a disservice" to such pioneers as Billie Jean King.

During a news conference before the BNP Paribas Open finals, Moore, a 69-year-old former professional tennis player from South Africa, said "in my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA because they ride on the coattails of the men," ESPN reports. "They don't make any decisions, and they are lucky. They are very, very, lucky. If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport. They really have."

Williams, who lost in the final to Victoria Azarenka, called the comments disrespectful to King and "every female — not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet — that has ever tried to stand up for what they believe in and being proud to be a woman." Williams said she doesn't "think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that" and has heard from countless fans that they "don't watch tennis unless they're watching myself or my sister [Venus Williams]." Last year, she continued, the women's final of the U.S. Open "sold out well before the men. I'm sorry, did Roger play in that final or Rafa or any man play in that final that was sold out before the men's final? I think not."

Not long after, Moore released an apology, saying his comments about the WTA were "in extremely poor taste and erroneous." Catherine Garcia

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