Did ‘Angry Black Man’ Criticism Contribute To President Obama’s Debate Performance?

The latest theory regarding President Barack Obama’s widely-panned performance at the presidential debate last night is that the incumbent’s “timid” showing was caused by fears that he’d look like the stereotypical “angry black man.”

Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson appeared on MSNBC’s Now Thursday, claiming that President Obama played it safe during the first debate so that he wouldn’t come off as an “angry black man.” The 2007 tape released by the Daily Caller and Fox News just days before the debate may have been on Obama’s mind prior to his showdown with Mitt Romney. Though the tape’s release was widely criticized as a weak ploy by right-wing media to discredit the president, Dyson unwittingly gave the not-so-scandalous tape quite a bit of credibility by placing the onus of Obama’s debate missteps on it.

When Savannah Guthrie complimented Romney’s body language and confidence, Dyson interjected:

“He had the least to lose,” he said. “Mitt Romney came into the game, so to speak, not expected to do well – back against the wall – and, therefore, he’s free to throw darts and see what lands.”

Dyson further criticized the 2007 tape’s release for tempering President Obama’s performance.

“Obama has just been subject to the Fox News treatment of ‘angry black man’ again,” said Dyson. “Let’s not forget this. Lest we pretend that that doesn’t make a difference to the specter hanging over his neck that ‘I can’t come off as too vigorous, because then it looks like I’m being an angry black man.’”

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore also reflected this opinion on his post-debate Twitter feed last night:

The answer? Probably not. I’d be more apt to blame the altitude, as ridiculous as that claim was. I think that President Obama’s supporters have enjoyed such success for so long that they don’t know how to lose. The election is far from over and there are still several debates left. My advice? Lose the battle. Downplay it. Next time, deliver. After all, aren’t the whining and the blame-game reasons many dislike the right so much?

Think about it!

Here’s the video of Michael Eric Dyson on MSNBC’s Now, via Mediaite: