December 09, 2009

Cobell joke on Jay Leno

On Wednesday's Jay Leno Show (airdate: 12/9/09), Jay Leno made a bad joke about the Cobell settlement. Here's the setup and the joke:LENO:  Speaking of the budget, in his speech on the economy President Obama said this: "We have to continue to spend our way out of the recession." Now I don't know much about economics, but aren't we like a trillion dollars in debt? Spending our way out of the recession? Isn't that like trying to drink your way out of alcoholism?

LENO [shrugging]:  I mean, I don't...I don't underst--[laughter and applause]

LENO:  All right. I'm just saying.

LENO:  And after a 13-year legal dispute over historical accounting mistakes by the Department of the Interior, the government has agreed to pay more than $3 billion in reparations to American Indians for the way they were treated. They're paying them $3 billion for the way they were treated.

LENO:  To which black people said: "Hello?! Uh, Civil War?! Hello, slavery?! We're here!! Anybody!!"

KEVIN EUBANKS:  I have a little Indian in me as well. [rimshot]

LENO [laughing]:  Are you part Indian?!

KEVIN EUBANKS:  I'm part--yes, I have a little Indian in me too.
Comment:  I'm sure Leno was just reading what some staff writer wrote for him. But stupid can you get?

He states that the government made accounting mistakes--true. Then he claims the settlement is for the way we treated Indians--false. The settlement is to pay for the accounting mistakes, big brain. Duhhh.

Unless Leno was referring to way the DOI "treated Indians" by losing their money, he misstated the case. Even if that's what he meant, "reparations" is absolutely the wrong word. When you pay someone what you owe them, it isn't reparations by any stretch of the imagination.

Besides, we know what Leno meant by his reference to black reparations for slavery. Blacks want reparations for the way we treated them...and so do Indians. Never mind the tedious business about the DOI's accounting mistakes. You know, the fact that the government was holding the Indians' own money in trust, not giving them taxpayers' money?

Sidekick Eubanks compounded the problem by claiming he's part Indian. The implication was that he's going to line up for a Cobell handout just like other Indians. In other words, that the settlement is a "politically correct" giveaway motivated by liberal guilt.

Perhaps Eubanks is part Indian, since many blacks are. Regardless, he won't get a penny of the settlement unless he's an Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holder. Neither will any other Indian.

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Journalist Lise Balk King turned me on to Leno's bit 10 minutes before it aired on the West Coast, so I was able to TiVo it. Her initial reaction was: "Talk about misinformation for the millions watching Leno tonight...geez." Here are some of the ensuing comments on her posting:
  • What is the email address for Jay Leno? We need to let him know how wrong and offensive that view (joke) is.

  • We need to email and call the network tomorrow and make it known that a "correction" is expected ON AIR tomorrow night. I'll find the right people to contact and post their info...

  • This is what I have found so far--

  • It is insulting to Indian people and Black people. In the case of Indian people the settlement is about paying for damage done because of the mismanagement of land and money.

  • Jay should apologize for his lack of understanding. The Cobell settlement has the potential to be a major turning point in many Indian people's lives. Congress still must act, jokes based on lack of understanding hurt.

  • It was a joke, but not really. He segued into it after commenting on Obama's "spending your way out of a recession is like an alcoholic drinking their way out of alcoholism"...not a joke at all, a political commentary.


    Big Dog Productions
    (818) 840-2299

    This is the DIRECT phone number to the production department of the Jay Leno Show. Let's make their phones dance! Start now and leave messages.

  • To be clear, I am not saying Leno shouldn't have an opinion or make political's all fair game...but he should get his facts straight! Being paid pennies on the dollar for mismanaged and missing trust funds is not "reparations" or any sort of "apology," and should not be misrepresented as such.

  • Don't apologize. Leno just any other responsible public figure has an obligation to get it right. We want to help him get it right.

  • Oh, I am definitely not a journalist, I want to be very clear and focused on the actual issue...and in this way Leno can't use the excuse of "it's political commentary, and not everyone will agree with me."
  • For more on Jay Leno, see Wolf Pack on Jay Leno and Leno:  Mobsters Run Foxwoods. For more on the Cobell settlement, see Cobell Settlement = "Reparations"?! and Obama to Settle Indian Trust Lawsuit.

    1 comment:

    Unknown said...

    Go, Rob! The joke writers botched it. Given that Leno has done a lot of gigs at tribal casinos, you think he would want to get the facts right.