Doesn't MSNBC (or Starbucks for that matter) find anything embarrassing about its all-white morning crew repeatedly arguing with African-Americans about the presence and influence of racism in America?
The Morning Joe gang was at it again this morning, riled up by President Carter pointing out what is obvious to most of us:
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."
This time they even invited the objectively-stupid Maria Bartiromo to join in as they brow-beat Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart for his meek defense of Carter. Even a spirited argument from Michael Eric Dyson couldn't dissuade Joe, Mika, or Maria from their insistence that race doesn't play a significant role in the opposition to Barack Obama. "I mean, c'mon! Give me a break!" says Maria B.
I suppose this morning's MSNBC broadcast could have been worse. Earlier in the week, viewers collectively cringed as Pat Buchanan, yes Pat Buchanan, was given center-stage to rebut Lawrence O'Donnell's blistering indictment of Joe Wilson and the racist, segregationist heritage of South Carolina. Buchanan snarled:
Want to talk about the division in America? We just heard it. I mean, to bring up all that about South Carolina, you could bring it up about any Southern state or something like that. Look, the man apologized. Barack Obama accepted it gracefully. Put an end to it. Why drag these thing out on and on and on and on?
People are now trying to milk this for all they can get. Joe, it's a symptom of the division in this country, what we just heard from Lawrence.
Are you proud, MSNBC? Inviting Pat Fucking Buchanan for commentary on racism?
Anyway, this morning on MSNBC, they played the Carter quote, and then Scarborough pounced. Buchanan wasn't there, so Joe decided to cite him to make his point:
(All quotes from this morning's show are from my own transcription.)
JOE: Jimmy Carter's been living in a bubble since 1976. Racism exists. But to suggest that the same country that elected this president, gave him a 70% approval rating. I remembered Pat Buchanan saying during the inauguration that he had never, ever remembered a good feeling around any president -- this is Pat Buchanan saying it -- since JFK was inaugurated...
To say suddenly that this is a racist country is sad and pathetic.
MARIA: I agree with you 100%...I just think that we elected a black man to the highest office in the world. Yes, stupidity exists. But I think it's a reach to say much of the challenge, an overwhelming amount of the challenge is because people are uncomfortable with a black man.
MIKA: And I think it's a step back I think to do that now.
MARIA: I agree it is a step back.
JOE: Let's get Jonathan Capehart in here because he is more qualified to talk about this than any of us...
MIKA: [cringing] well...
JOE: Because he won a Pulitzer Prize.
[laughter all around]
Ha ha ha ha ha. You see, it's so funny, because Capehart is black, but we know that the Morning Joe gang doesn't think that would give him any extra insight into a racial issue...as they go on to demonstrate.
To his credit, Capehart quickly knocked down Scarborough's straw man -- that Carter said this is a "racist country" -- before Joe, Mika, and Maria all continued to mock the idea that racism towards Obama should even be discussed:
CAPEHART: I'm so glad you played President Carter's entire statement there. And I'd go back to what he said: "an overwhelming portion of the intense reactions" against the President. That's a very small group of people. Everything else he said, that's his opinion. But I do think there are extreme voices on the right, not all Republicans and not all conservatives, but there are extreme voices out there for whom the fact that the President is a black man is a problem for them...
MARIA: You're allowed to challenge and criticize and disagree without being a racist. I mean it's such a waste of time.
MIKA: That's it right there.
JOE: You're allowed to be angry. And people are allowed to carry around, let's say, tacky signs. Signs that make all of us cringe.
MIKA: I just think we take a huge step back when we bring race into everything like that.
MARIA: I mean, c'mon! Give me a break!
Yes, it's such a step back. I mean, c'mon! After all, we just elected a black man to the highest office in the land. A black man! To the highest office! Inconceivable. Racism? In America? Give me a break. It's so divisive to bring up such a notion.
So a little while later, Joe welcomes Michael Eric Dyson, who tries again to get the clueless crew to acknowledge the obvious:
DYSON: Obviously there some legitimate critiques in opposition to Mr. Obama based on ideology and politics. Nobody would deny that. But it doesn't mean, therefore, that some of the opposition is not driven by race. What is being a monkey? A Nazi? What is teabaggers? What is Mr. Obama is not really an American? When you begin to put all this stuff together, of course it's volatile, the racial atmosphere out there.
Mr. Carter as a Southern man understands the deeply entrenched beliefs and racist attitudes that continue to persist in certain segments of our nation...we have to acknowledge it's a reality...
To which Maria Bartiromo suddenly blurts out:
MARIA: Didn't Erin Burnett call George Bush, when he was a sitting President, a monkey, on this program?
Wow. Yeah, she's really that clueless. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Scarborough takes up Maria's argument, explaining that the hatred towards Bill Clinton and George W. Bush was much, much worse than anything directed at Obama. So there just can't be any racism involved now. And Dyson tries again, forcing Scarborough to feign ignorance of racism among the leading lights of the right-wing:
DYSON: When you have Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck leading the parade with vicious and racial implications and inferences, there's no question that some of us the opposition that has ginned up against Mr. Obama is racially rooted.
JOE: I don't know that I've heard Glenn say anything that in itself is racist...and Rush Limbaugh? What has Rush Limbaugh said that you would consider racist? Because I haven't heard that. [!]
MIKA: About the President.
JOE: Yeah, about the President.
DYSON: "Barack the Magic Negro" that was played constantly on the show.
JOE: Hold on. That's intellectually dishonest. You know that it was an African-American L.A. Times columnist who said that and Limbaugh was quoting...
DYSON: But you know on Mr. Limbaugh's show there was a constant theme, a constant attack, that Mr. Limbaugh was saying that slavery was not a bad thing...
JOE: Rush Limbaugh said slavery was not a bad thing?
DYSON: Of course. Go back and read it.
So Joe and Dyson continue to go back and forth, and finally Maria manages to say one more really stupid thing:
MARIA: He had a 70% approval rating! And now it's 50%. Those people didn't just turn to racists!
Genius. Pure genius. What a fine journalist. And guess what? Tomorrow Maria Bartiromo will be interviewing President Obama.
It's really a disgrace that MSNBC allows racism apologists like Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Pat Buchanan, and Maria Bartiromo to pollute our airwaves every morning. And this is really starting to become a pattern on Morning Joe. It was just a couple of months ago that Brzezinski was literally shouting down Eugene Robinson over his contention that the Skip Gates arrest was racially motivated.
And I can't help but wonder how the lack of racial insensitivity and racism-denial impacts the other stories Morning Joe covers. As the Dyson segment finished this morning, Mika teased the next story:
MIKA: We'll be right back with new developments in the ACORN controversy...
Bonus: Maria Bartiromo embarrassing herself on Jeopardy: