Washington: Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, is not a "real black president", Rupert Murdoch has tweeted, triggering angry reactions and forcing the powerful media mogul to apologise for his racially offensive comments.
Murdoch's tweet was championing Ben Carson, a Republican who is the only African-American candidate in the presidential race.
"Ben and Candy Carson terrific," 84-year-old Murdoch wrote yesterday. "What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else."
He then directed followers to an article in New York magazine that he said showed "minority community disappointment" with the president's record.
However, his earlier tweet directly implied that Obama, whose mother was a white American and whose father was a Kenyan studying in the United States, did not deserve to be classified as African American. Both of Carson's parents were black and born in the United States.
The tweet ricocheted around the web and was widely denounced.
About 11 hours later, Murdoch tweeted an apology: "Apologies! No offence meant. Personally find both men charming."
Murdoch's use of the word "real" in his original tweet flabbergasted many online onlookers, some of whom concluded that the media mogul was questioning Obama's race and identity.
54-year-old Obama, the first black president of the United States, has also been dogged by false accusations that he is not an American citizen.
What did Murdoch mean? "We don't comment on his tweets," a 21st Century Fox spokeswoman said.
Murdoch is the owner of Fox News Channel and a huge portfolio of other media brands, from the Fox broadcast network to the FX cable channel. He is the co-executive chairman of 21st Century Fox. He recently handed over the CEO reins to his son James.
Murdoch is an unusual user of Twitter, occasionally dashing off his thoughts about politics and world affairs without ever quite mastering the medium, CNN reported.
He followed the Carson tweet with one that said "Read New York magazine for minority community disappointment with POTUS (President of the United States)." He didn't link to it, but he was apparently referencing a column titled "Has Barack Obama Done Enough for African-Americans?"
Murdoch has been boosting Carson in tweets for months. On Tuesday he plugged Carson's appearance on the Fox News programme "The Kelly File."
Last week he wrote, "Everywhere pundits keep underestimating Ben Carson. But public understand humility as admirable, listen to the multi-faceted strong message."