August 4th, 2009
06:15 PM ET

Whoopi Goldberg on Professor Gates

CNN's Campbell Brown sat down this afternoon for an exclusive interview with Whoopi Goldberg, the moderator and co-host of ABC’s “The View.” Their conversation touched on President Obama’s recent meeting over beers with black college professor Henry Louis Gates and the white police sergeant, James Crowley, who arrested him after a misunderstanding at Gates’ home last month. The President invited both men to the White House to tamp down a media firestorm that increased after Obama said the police “acted stupidly” in arresting the professor.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows the incident remains very polarizing: Eighty-six percent of black Americans say racism among police officers is common, an opinion only 47 percent of white Americans share. Our poll also shows 63 percent of whites think the president acted "stupidly" in commenting on the story, compared to only 26 percent of blacks.

Campbell asked Whoopi if she thinks Obama, as the first black president, has to bite his tongue sometimes when it comes to what he can say about certain issues, as we saw play out with the arrest of Professor Gates?

Here’s the transcript of their discussion:


BROWN: You laugh.

GOLDBERG: I do laugh because I just - what everyone is starting to realize is that we do have cultural differences, and we do respond to things in different ways. Now most of us, if our friends - if we have half of the information, which normally most of us have anyway. And you heard that your friend got roughed up by the police, you would say, you know, that guy is a bonehead, man, he's a bonehead. And then you get the facts, and you go, well, you know, you maybe should have done it a little bit different. You know, I don't think he has to so much bite his tongue, but he has to - he has to recognize that people are not used to the president sounding like their next door neighbor. You know, and I think the people, we have to recognize that this is a different kind of president, because this is like a guy, this is like a regular dude, you know.

BROWN: But why, why, why is this a different kind of president? Is it because he's a black president? Is it because he is of a different generation? Or what is it?

GOLDBERG: I really think it's generational.

See more of Campbell’s conversation with Whoopi Goldberg tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

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soundoff (34 Responses)

    Whoopi goldberg on professor gates.. Corking 🙂

    April 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jon-Paul

    I am extremely dismayed insofar as - even the writer of the opening piece - moves straight to race with their Black professor and White cop routine. Man, talk about journalistic bias! But that's CNN.

    But the greater issue here is how so many are drawing conclusions from second, third, some even the fourth hand accounting of the incident. I believe it's abhorrent and ridiculous for anyone to be either pro professor or pro police officer SIMPLY because none of you were actually there.

    Too many conclusions are being drawn with so little of the true information being let made public. Every one of you acts and sounds like idiots.

    The comment vis-a-vie Barack Obama are justified simply insofar as what he said was at a press conference, recorded by television, and heard by millions. It was a poorly timed, moreover, sophomoric comment to make. E-Z as pie.

    August 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hispanic Guy

    I am sooooo sick of everyone playing the race card. And now white people are using even more than black people. It's stupid!! Educate yourselves and your children and you will live in a better place. Racism does exist, no doubt, but if you continue to use it as a crutch you and your children will continue to fuel the cause of racism.....IGNORANCE.

    August 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Glen

    Dorothy-I totally agree!

    JoAnn-Are you kidding me?! Get serious!

    August 6, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JoAnn

    Have you ever seen the movie "Trading Places"? The white man fell apart when he had to deal w/stressors. The black adapted. The white race will die if they have to deal w/10% of the stuff black people deal with on a daily basis.

    August 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    What I can't believe is that after over 100 years, we still can't just get along. Whites and balcks in this country have been through so much TOGETHER, and yet we still can't accept that we're all the same. We've bled for each other, we've died for each other. When MLK campaigned for civil rights, this was NOT what he had in mind, and frankly I think he'd be ashamed at how his dwords have fallen on deaf ears, white AND black. As a Marine, I work with people of every race under the sun, and you know what, at the end of the day, I would still give my life ofr any one of them, and I know they'd do the same for me.

    August 6, 2009 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ms. Aurora

    As I remember, President Obama was in the middle of a news conference regarding health care when a reporter asked him what he thought about the incident regarding Mr. Gates. He did not bring up this issue. He responded to a reporter's question. When he answered, I cringed because I knew that the public would jump on the word "stupidly". Perhaps not the wisest choice of words, but blunt and to the point. The police officer was truly out of line and should have been suspended for making a false arrest. By right, once the homeowner provided identification and proved that he was in fact in his own residence, the officer should have left the scene. At that point, he was aware that no crime had been committed so his job was done. The people who keep saying that the officer was within his rights are sadly mistaken. Having worked with police officers I know how they tend to throw around their power. While I respect the ones who do their job, I have the lowest regard for the ones who take advantage of a badge and a gun. Unfortunately they do exist. This officer has proven to be one of them.

    August 6, 2009 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Buster Cherry

    I just think you all are wrong.Turn to Jesus!

    August 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    AMEN Dorothy!!!

    August 5, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dorothy

    When the cop asked for identificatrion, Gates should have given it to him and thanked him for being so conscientious in his work. Afterall, it was Gate's house the police were trying to protect. And that should have been the end of it. The reality of the situation is, the cop went too far, Gate's went too loud and Obama should have kept his nose out of it. The end. I know Gate's was angry but he is a highly educateds man and I just think he coud have handled it with more dignity.

    August 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jane

    This is such a nuanced issue, I find it hard to really address it. That said..We do have a serious problem of systemic racism in America. For so many of all races this is deep in the psyche. There is racism in our schools, communities, and especially our justice system. The entertainment industry glorifies violence. How does one with such low self-esteem (due to many factors) rise up to make $11.00-12.00 per hour and be "successful"? There is so little opportunity for so many who have been raised in poverty. Just blaming some black families does not address an issue that is much bigger than the family. As a society so many black folks are kept down. This does apply also to other races. Where is the help for black males before the system sends them to prison? Where is the help for children BEFORE they get there? I think the answers lie in capitalism and a system that seeks to punish rather than correct. White woman with mixed family STRUGGLING TO SAVE MY MIXED GRANDKIDS. Peace

    August 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sandy

    Everyone seems to be missing the point. It's not really a Black or White thing IN THIS SITUATION; it's a form of diversion. It's the media's way of diverting everyone's attention away from the well needed health care reform that President Obama is advocating, which will ultimately help ALL Americans. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to loose focus so easily and the media knows this and takes advantage of it when it suits them. We, as Americans, need to stop falling victim of the media’s antics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they are the only perpetuators of racism, but if you take a moment to watch the media in action, you’ll see that where there’s racism, you will find the media heightening things; pouring salt on the womb. STOP. THINK. LISTEN.

    August 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. raf in va


    August 5, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. breeze

    I have had a chance to sit down and go over the Gates/Crowley incident. I do not think that we would ever know the whole story. Only God, Dr. Gates, Sgt. Crowley, the person who called, and other witnesses (if any) can attest in part, to what happened. The way I see it is that a call was made to the Police about a possible break-in, the Police show up to investigate and an argument or disagreement ensued. If Dr. Gates used the words (are you doing this because I am black?), then he is actually engaging the concept of racial profiling. If the Police Officer was driving by (in the absent of a call) and saw Dr. Gates and his driver and stopped to question their presence at the house, that may be a clear indication of racial profiling. Nevertheless, it is possible that race and class from Dr. Gates perspective is a by-product of his experience and worldview. Based on some reports, it appears that Dr. Gates established the tone of confrontation. The human dynamic is so sensitized that one would immediately get defensive or reactive by the provoking stimulus. Therefore, cooler heads should have prevailed. However, this is easier said than done. Sgt. Crowley and Dr. Gates should equally share the blame. Both men had the opportunity to diffuse a potentially combustible situation and failed to do so. Some people say ego, testosterone, culture, stress, and other factors are contributors. Yes, these variables could be contributing elements. However there should not be an excuse for adopting a common sense approach to problem solving. The bottom line is that the caller saw a situation and felt a need to act as a good citizen by calling the Police. Yet, she is vilified by some as a racist. This incident may change the public’s perception of when or if they should get involved. Some people may adopt an “I am going to mind my own business approach” and society will suffer from this stance. The ramification goes beyond the feelings of the parties involved. What if someone was actually breaking into Dr. Gates' home and looked the other way? Would Dr. Gates have cried racial profiling or blame the neighbors for not responding to a crime? This is why I feel that Dr. Gates should have taken control of the situation, and cooperated to the best of his ability albeit his personal feeling about injustice, race or class. A "teaching moment" was truly lost in this situation. Dr. Gates (scholar) and Sgt. Crowley (Instructor on racial profiling) should have been astute enough not to fan the flames of a disagreement. In my opinion, the Police will always have the upper hand relative to law enforcement. Nationally, how many D.A.'s have ruled against the Police? I think that Dr. Gates should have cooperated and show his I.D. In the interim, if he truly felt that he was treated unfairly, then file a complaint with Sgt. Crowley's supervisor. In general, racial profiling will always be a part of the societal fabric. I think that deep inside; everyone has some degree of racial profiling in his or her makeup and is transformed in verbal and non-verbal ways. Education (sensitivity training, seminars, role-playing) is a key component. However, while it would not solve all problems, it could be a good start to help minimize TRUE cases of racial profiling. Another teaching moment is to use this situation to have all races come together and share their thoughts on how best to address this topic. Finally, in my humble opinion, President Obama was wrong to comment the way he did and wrong for inviting the parties to the White House over a beer. This was not a teaching moment; it was a public relations moment.

    August 5, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ryan

    to Karen,
    You do realize that you are part of the problem if you state, "White America and Black America we will always be separted." I disagree with that statement entirely. You make this all sound soo negative. While I am sure both men made faults you put all the blame on one person, not to mention you say " am sure the call that came in said there was Black men breaking into a house." That statement is false, not only is it false it is a lie. Before you jump to conclusions the 911 statement of the woman reporting the incident says a "man" is attempting to gain entry into a house. I did not hear anything about race.... did you? I personally think a lot of people have racial stereotypes about black people. I agree this is wrong, Obama calling the police who did this dumb was not the most intelligent thing, but bringing this issue to the national spotlight was a good thing.

    August 5, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  16. alexacker

    For pete sake... can't we all just get along by now? People make mistakes, all is forgiven over beer at the white house. Get off your soapboxes and get back to work....

    August 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Will

    First, I would be pissed if the police came to my door and accused me of breaking the law. However, I would not disrespect them UNTIL it was clear they understood I was the owner of the house.

    Second, Crowley is trained to react, not think. No offense, but the police aren't who they are if they were the brightest bulbs. He works the streets and had an ego to resolve, after he found out he was wrong. They have a false sense that they are above the law and not simply an enforcer of the law. Also, it isn't the fault of others to racially profile black men with breaking the law. You know it is disproportionately true. Don't complain about it. Change it. Look at college demographics, prison demographics and drop-out rate demographics.

    Third, Obama is not just black! He is a President of mixed race. He was raised by a white family. What did the black community do for him?

    CNN should not have the shows "Black in America." It is disrepectful for them to ignore other races. Talk about exploitation.

    Please respond with an educated, objective and original answer.

    August 5, 2009 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  18. SOPHIA

    Doesn't matter if the arresting police officer was black or white. When Blacks look at officers there are only two colors blue and black. Doesn't matter what color they are. Some of the black officers are just as nasty as the white, latinos etccc... Difference is I don't think the black officer would have arrested Gates. He would have handled it differently, hopfully. But thats not always the case. No race when it comes to the police just BLACK AND BLUE. Hoping they don't beat us that color.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  19. Reign

    Even though I feel the Gates, Crowley incident was mostly about ego, testosterone and power playing, there may have been a small element of racial profiling. It's so innate, that it's done instinctively. Police officers are gang members so regardless of them being Black, White or other, they ALL execute their power to profile and destroy men and women of color. Black men do it out of self hatred and the need to be respected by someone, anyone and everybody else does it out of hatred as well. They're all ignorant and full of adrenaline and hormones and when they encounter a Black man, they let loose. All of the rest of us commenting on the incident need educating and cultural sensitivity training. White people don't notice any problems until it affects their world so their thinking is racially deformed. Black people have to deal with racial incidents every single day of their lives in every single area of their lives so sometimes they find themselves in "victim" mode too often, even when they might not be a victim. But it's so rare to not be a victim, that it's hard to know when to let your guards down. Time brings about a change and we're definitely in the midst of an evolution. No one stays in power forever, so the privileged among us will feel what it's like as time brings about change. And it's not all White people that are deformed in their thinking, some of them are very well developed thinkers, human even. And it's not all Black people that see themselves as victims, even when they are. AMERICA, PLEASE STOP BEING IGNORANT, WE'RE MORE ALIKE THAN WE ARE DIFFERENT AND BEING DIFFERENT ISN'T A BAD THING. Geez, when will intelligence prevail over ignorance in our country???

    August 5, 2009 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  20. Chris

    Thank you Hummingbird Flies. I could not agree more with what you said. Honestly, you made the most sense out of everyone and think you should be in the White House instead. I think if we had more people like you who are able to put things in perspective properly, this would a much better country.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  21. karen

    White America and Black America we will always be separted. That officer knocked on the door of that black man residents assuming that the black man inside was robbing the place. He never expressed to Mr.Gates that there was a call that came in about a robbery taken place, he simple ask him who he was and can he prove it. Once Mr. Gates established that this was his home and he was locked out. The officer should have left the property, instead he went in that man's house disrespecting him, assuming he shouldn't be there all because the man was BLACK, I am sure the call that came in said there was Black men breaking into a house. So white America know this, we are fighting back now, not running, not letting you hang our men and young boys, or rape or woman, without you standing in judgement anymore. Now there are laws tro protect us. Be bold, if you want to, you might find that the tables will turn.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  22. hemnebob

    we all weren't there so we can't say what might have happened were gates to be a white man...we just don't know. bottom line is that our president retracted his comments or rather clarified his comments which our previous administration was never responsible for anything they said and lied all the time to the public. i think things happen for a reason and i believe that they all regretted their actions in the end. as far as crowley goes? he lied on his report which should in effect bring his future and past reports into question...white or black, he fabricated things into his report that didn't transpire...(you listening norma?) gates reacted badly to crowley doing his job and i believe just like they said, he just returned home from a trip to china...damn man was tired which made him not react in a positive manner but rather without proper judgement. people need to realize that black or white, we are here together and we need to get along. holding onto predjudices is ugly
    and negative so people need to stop it now. this event is over and you all need to get over it. police are human are can very well be corrupt as we are seeing every single day in the news and for those who are trying to protect and serve? we cannot 'profile' them all as if they aren't trying hard to protect us all.
    and didn't vote for obama, quit lying.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  23. TLEE

    Isn't the president half WHITE???

    When is White History month?

    August 5, 2009 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  24. Kevin

    To Norma,
    There is no questions Sgt. Crowley was doing his job initially. The real issue is his actions and Prof. gates subsequent to validating Gates' indentity. No question Gates contributed to the situation. However, Sgt. Crowley is a trained officer who should have been able to handle this situation. If the only way to handle an irate citizen is to arrest them, we will need even more jails!

    To Hummingbird,
    Get your facts right! Both Goldberg and Gates have been active in addressing the concerns of our people. They may not do in a way that satisfies you. Obama is not the 1st President to get involved in a local issue. As a black American, I am glad he said something. One, racial profiling is a real issue driven by the sterotypes we all have of each other. Two, he is a President trying live outside of the bubble of the White House.

    The real issue in the Gates/Crowley incident was the unstable mix of race, class and male egos. The latter two issues have been overlooked in all of the discussion on this subject.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  25. Hummingbird Flies

    ENOUGH ALREADY! As a black woman I am sick and tired of hearing these celebrity blacks spout off the mouth about racism. They will NEVER face what ordinary blacks face everyday becasue of their celebrity status. There has never ben a time that I remember that Gates or Goldberg have marched to protest racial profiling. All of a sudden it happens to gates and he is a convert and screams from the tallest building . Give me a break. Crowley should be commended in doing his job. Obama should stay out of this until he is ready to invite every normal Joe or Jane to the White House to resolve racial incidents not just his friend Skip Gates. Didn't he say he was the president for everyone?

    Now where did that debate for health care go?

    August 5, 2009 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  26. Whatthe?

    White people really need to start crying about facing injustice in America because the very idea of it is so ridiculous. While the President is Black, people with sense know that Congress has the real power. Oh, by the way, only 1 United States Senator is Black, and when Burrus leaves (thank God) there will probably be none. Whites hold the vast majority of judgeships, DA, Prosecutors jobs, police officers, FBI agents, CIA agents, Congresspeople, Military decision-making, top banking and media positions, etc, etc. etc. Yeah, I fell really sorry for WHite people in America. Poor Whites get treated badly, but the average, middle class white person has white skin priveleges that they just take for granted. All these What ifs white people suggest are nonsense. You do not get racially profiled, so you don't know anything about it. You do, however, benefit from your whiteness on a daily basis, and will continue to do so no matter how many Black presidents there are in America.

    August 5, 2009 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  27. Mary

    If Gates had been a bus driver or trash man. He would have been put in jail and maybe beat by the policeman.
    Or if he was white, he would have been ask ,is this your home and he said yes, the policeman would have been on this way.
    All I say treat everyone the same Professor's, bus drivers, teachers,nurses,doctors and thugs.
    If everyone was Treated the same we would not be talking about this arrest today.

    August 5, 2009 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  28. Carlos

    The cop messed up......he knows he screwed up.......he just got caught regarding his actions and motives

    August 5, 2009 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  29. Norma

    The police officer did his job in the right way. They were called by a concerned citizen because of the break-in, so they went to the house to investigate.
    Mr Gates got furious because he feels so much important than a police officer – being a Harvard professor and a friend of the President of the United States – so he started screaming and being uncooperative. That is why the police arrested him, not because he is black.
    President Obama actions made it worse yet; He said the police acted "stupidly". Really? Since when a President of this country intervene in a simple situation like this? How come he was never interested in other situations involving a break-in and police issues?
    I tell you why: because Professor Gates is black, and because is his friend.
    Mr Obama offended the police community, and even the black officers defended their colleague in this situation.
    And then, he had no better idea than resolve this argument by inviting them to "have a beer with him at the White House". How inappropiate!
    I am so disappointed, because by the way, I voted for Obama...

    August 5, 2009 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  30. j.j.

    This is America. You have the right to choose. We will never become the nation we were meant to be until race is taken off our birth certificates. But America, you need to see that you can't have it both ways. You can't have ethnic pride and ever really live in a totally equal society. No American should ever have to indicate what race they are on any government form. What's the sense anyway? A person's or color if you wish can be changed in two generations of ethnic mixing. So we are all of the same race basically. Even DNA has proven we all came out of the area of Africa and we spread out. We are one species, one group. In this country we have to take away the government compartmentalization of ourselves. This is the only way we will ever become the nation we should. No race should be listed on any American birth certificate again. It's seems like such a simple solution, but never done. Why? After a few generations of having no race selections on any forms, we would truly all become Americans first and only,

    August 5, 2009 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  31. NanD

    If the arresting officer had been black, how would this have turned out, or better yet, if the professor had been white and the arresting officer had been black. Would it have gained all of the publicity? No, because the white person would not be able to say they were racially profiled. I have noticed on the news in my area that if they are looking for a criminal that committed a crime, they are no longer able to describe the individual as a particular race. It is unbelievable to me that this is allowed. We have become a nation that is too concerned with people's feelings and being politically correct all the time. It isn't possible to be politically correct all the time, and describing what an individual looked like in order to solve a crime and off projection to possible future victims is not racial profiling.

    August 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Delores Williams

    Ok, first off, white americans do not have believe racial profiling occurs since they are not the target. . They have no basis for the concern since it does not occur to them. Pres Obama was right, and everyone KNOWS he was right. Just the actions of the dept after about how they would not apologize shows ego. Had this not been a well known man, a trumped up charge would have probably been brought, even if it was his own house. The police was wrong. Pres Obama was right, they acted stupidly, and people voted in the man because you liked his honesty. Well, there it is.

    August 4, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Anne


    I think the problem that so many fail to "accept" or even acknowledge is that Officer Crowley out right LIED in his police report MORE than once...I mean does that not say anything about this whole situation??

    Does this really take a rocket scientist??? I don't think so Rosy.

    August 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Rosy

    It is interesting that if this was reverse how quick the police officer would have been reprimanded., What I know for sure is something will be done about this issue as soon as the victimizers become the victims like with drugs AND unwed pregnancy's. I'm waiting for what will be revealed in the next couple of weeks about some of our profiling instructor men in blue.

    August 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |

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