Once again, an MSNBC reporter has falsely accused Newt Gingrich of using racial overtones in his critique of President Obama’s economic policies. On the Friday edition of her eponymous program Andrea Mitchell Reports, the veteran broadcast journalist maintained that Gingrich deploys language with coded racial overtones that she and fellow MSNBCers can detect is a racially-tinged "dog whistle." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Colleague Craig Melvin, a black reporter who hails from Charleston, agreed with Mitchell, arguing that such language is "red meat to the Republican base" thereby attributing bigotry to rank-and-file South Carolina GOP voters.
What follows is the relevant transcript of the January 20 exchange:
Andrea Mitchell: South Carolinians take great pride in being first in the South in their primary. And their claim has also made them the state that picks presidents. But South Carolina has had a long and complex history of racial tensions, of course, and grievances that also became an issue this week in a debate that many felt had racial overtones. NBC’s Craig Melvin is a native son from Charleston, South Carolina. This is your hometown. And you've been covering the race down here. First of all, the debate, earlier this week, not last night's debate. But the debate, which, where Juan Williams tried to question Newt Gingrich about some of his comments about letting minority youth get jobs as janitors for instance, what is your takeaway from that in talking to people down here, because it's been argued both ways?
Craig Melvin: We have spent a lot of time talking to folks down here about that issue in particular. And interesting, when candidates in South Carolina use that type of language, use phrases like that, it's red meat to the base.
Mitchell: It's a dog whistle.
Melvin: Yes, yes, and Newt Gingrich when he said that, he is from Georgia. He is very familiar with South Carolina politics. He knows the types of lines and the types of words that get applause and things like that and of course a thunderous standing ovation and that is what it is designed to do. A certain type of voter in South Carolina, that hears things like that and it appeals to them on a different level.
Jeffrey Meyer is an intern at the Media Research Center.