MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell hosted Johnson Publishing CEO Desiree Rogers on her 1 p.m. EST show Tuesday to discuss the causes and effects of violent political rhetoric. Johnson publishes Ebony magazine, an African-American publication, the current issue of which features articles measuring the level of racist speech within the Tea Party and questioning Obama's toughness in dealing with such vitriol.
Mitchell called the articles "provocative" and "recommended" reading. She also asked Rogers if she thought the racist political rhetoric has reached its highest levels now that an African-American is President.
"Some very provocative articles here about whether [President Obama] is tough enough and whether or not the politics that we've been seeing – Tea Party politics, and the like – really reach a new level of white supremacism, of anti-African-American rhetoric," Mitchell summarized the recent issue of Ebony.
The magazine's website features a read by Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minn.) on prevailing over racist Tea Partiers in the recent election. The title of the column is "I Fought the Tea Party – and Won."
"The chasm between fact and fiction in the current political climate is disturbing," Ellison writes. Yet he also accuses "Tea Party" Republicans of hurling racial epithets at Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) during the health care debate, something that was never proven with video evidence.
Another feature article, as Mitchell noted, talks about if the Tea Party has risen to new levels of racism in its discourse. One column titled "Racism, Inc." first innocently wonders that "much has been written about whether the Tea Party movement is racist. It may or may not be."
But then the author adds that he has seen enough of the rallies to conclude that "many of those who are present....don't see a liberal president. They see a black man who is president and believe, because they have been led to do so, that America is failing because of the color of his skin."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 11 at 12:44 p.m. EST, is as follows:
ANDREA MITCHELL: Let's talk about the current issue of Ebony. Some very provocative articles here about whether [President Obama] is tough enough and whether or not the politics that we've been seeing – Tea Party politics, and the like – really reach a new level of white supremacism, of anti-African-American rhetoric.
DESIREE ROGERS, Johnson Publishing CEO: Well, Andrea, great to see you as well, even if it's through the camera. (...) We believe that these publications, both Ebony and Jet, really are – it's really important for us to have a dialogue to not hide and not – to really, you know, bring the issue forward so that there can be an honest debate. And so, in those pieces you'll see that there's five different authors really talking about this from all different directions. We think that we can be a conduit for the discussion, and really start the beginning of some healing, and moving towards what are the real issues, like housing, employment, education, and move beyond all this, really, decisiveness.
MITCHELL: Do you think that because we have the first African-American president, that the political rhetoric has been more racially-tinged, that there has been more aggressive racism directed against this White House, just because it's targeting this President?
ROGERS: Well I think there is change. He is the first African-American president, we've never had an African-American president, and I think it's fair to say, you know, that in my lifetime I've never seen anything like this really against the Presidency. I think of it as against the Presidency as opposed to against one particular individual. And I think it's different, it is our first time, and I think we have to admit that and move beyond that and start to work on the real issues that are at hand, whether that be in the African-American community or in other communities, so that we can't just continue to allow this kind of dialogue to go back and forth. It's not helping anyone. It's not helping the Democrats, certainly not helping the Republicans, and as the President has said, you know, this is one nation. He has been, in my opinion, the utmost in being a gentleman – he is the President of the United States – and to continue to have this go back and forth, I think, is damaging to this whole nation. We really don't look well.
MITCHELL: Do you think that the hate speech against this President has been worse, than, for instance, the speech against George W. Bush during the Iraq War, or Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam?
ROGERS: I think it's been disrespectful. I mean, I still shudder when I remember the Congressman calling the President a liar. I mean, it's just disrespectful. And if you look, you know, in our magazine, we really go through the facts, over and over again, of people saying "We want him to fail." People saying things about Mrs. Obama, I mean this is just not what this country is about. It really is disgraceful, and I think we need to move beyond that and really start to deal with what the real issues are. And I think that we have to have a conversation about this. It's important for us as a people to have a dialogue about this, and to really come to terms and to move on. We really need to heal and to move on.
MITCHELL: Well Desiree Rogers, it's great to see you. And Ebony magazine – fascinating issues, and it's got...the issue in play has a lot of really provocative articles, so – recommended.