"When you win an Academy Award, that's part of your legacy," said Whoopi. "To be dismissed and erased by the New York Times critics who should know better ... this is not hidden information."
For anyone who watches The View or 30 Rock, Whoopi is probably the first EGOT winner that springs to mind (it is a "good goal for a talented crazy person," after all). But Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott's alleged omission may actually be due to the limited scope of the article, not a lack of hours spent watching daytime TV.
This afternoon, The Times responded to Entertainment Weekly:
The error lies with those who are reading the story incorrectly. The point of the piece was not to name every black actor or actress who has been awarded an Oscar, it was to draw a comparison between the number who won prior to 2002 (the year Halle Berry and Denzel Washington won) and those who have won since. And the story states very clearly that in 73 years, prior to 2002, only seven black actors/actresses won Oscars.
While the time frame the article refers to is a bit confusing at first glance, it's clear from these two paragraphs that Dargis and Scott are right:
Nine years ago, when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won his and her Oscars - he was only the second African-American man to win best actor, and she was the first African-American woman to win best actress - each took a moment to look back at the performers from earlier generations who had struggled against prejudice and fought to claim the recognition too often denied them ...
Real change seemed to have come to movies or at least the Academy, which had given statuettes to a total of seven black actors in the previous 73 years. After Mr. Washington and Ms. Berry, there would be Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker (both best actors); Morgan Freeman (best supporting actor); Jennifer Hudson and Mo'Nique (best supporting actresses). The consolidation of a black presence in the movies and television did not signal the arrival of a postracial Hollywood any more than the election of Barack Obama in 2008 spelled the end of America's 400-year-old racial drama. But it was possible, over much of the past decade, to believe that a few of the old demons of suspicion and exclusion might finally be laid to rest.
Had the Times actually snubbed Whoopi, her anger would be totally justified, but it seems she just didn't read the article that closely. But, the controversy wasn't all for naught. At least it brought the ridiculous lack of black Oscar nominees and winners to the attention of a wider audience, and finally gave Elisabeth Hasselbeck an excuse to cancel her New York Times subscription.
UPDATE: Tonight Whoopi issued a response to the Times' rebuttal, telling USA Today, "You shouldn't have to read a story five times to get the meaning. It's an erasure. I've made 50 movies, and no mention?"
Hollywood's Whiteout [NYT]
Whoopi Goldberg Criticizes 'New York Times' For Not Mentioning Her Oscar; Hasselbeck Cancels Subscription In Protest. UPDATE: The New York Times Responds [Entertainment Weekly]
Whoopi Goldberg Responds To 'NYT' Rebuttal Statement [USA Today]