At MSNBC what’s worse than being a conservative member of Congress? Being a black Republican member of Congress.
That seemed to be the sentiment on February 18 when MSNBC host Craig Melvin asked former Obama official Anton Gunn whether or not Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) would “come with an asterisk” next to his name if he wins election to a full-term in the Senate this November. [See video below.]
At issue during the segment was the fact that South Carolina has not elected an African-American to statewide office since Reconstruction -- 142 years ago; Tim Scott was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to fill a vacancy in the Senate when Senator Jim DeMint (R) resigned to become the president of the Heritage Foundation.
Melvin, himself a Palmetto State native, began by asking Gunn why no African-American had been elected statewide in 142 years, which was the result of former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ben Tillman who “oversaw the constitutional convention that transformed the state and snatched away voting rights and other political rights to African-Americans.”
On a side note, Gunn conveniently forget to mention that Tillman was in fact a Democrat.
The MSNBC host then hyped inflammatory comments made by South Carolina House minority leader Todd Rutherford (D) who said that regarding Tim Scott, “the color of his skin certainly is not representative of the way that he votes on the policies that he seems to side with.” After briefly reading Senator Scott’s condemnation of Mr. Rutherford’s comments, Melvin disgustingly asked Mr. Gunn “Would Senator Scott's election, would it come with an asterisk like Rutherford's suggesting or seems to be suggesting here?”
Would Mr. Melvin have asked Gunn the same question of Roland Burris, an African-American who was appointed to fill then-Senator Barack Obama’s Illinois Senate seat upon is election as president? Or does Melvin question the legitimacy of Scott’s Senate tenure because isn’t a Democrat? For his part, Gunn did push back on the notion that Scott should have an asterisk next to his name, but suggested that the Republican senator did not support policies that were favorable to African-Americans in the Palmetto State.
Such a shameful attack on a prominent African-American conservative shouldn’t be tolerated by the folks at MSNBC, and given that Mr. Scott is a Republican, liberals will have no problem disparaging his name, something that would never happen if he were a Democrat.
See relevant transcript below.
February 18, 2014
11:28 a.m. Eastern
CRAIG MELVIN: Meanwhile, Richard Howell Gleaves, stop scratching your head. You've never heard of the guy, but he was, in fact, the last black person elected statewide in South Carolina. Gleaves was a lieutenant governor. Here we are 142 years later and the Palmetto State is poised to elect the first black candidate to statewide office since Gleaves and since Reconstruction. A record seven African-Americans are running this year. In one senate race, all three of the announced candidates are black. Before becoming a senior Obama administration official and health care guru, Anton Gunn was a state house representative in South Carolina. Good to see you as always my friend. Let's start with the question that people not familiar with South Carolina politics are asking right now, what took so long?
ANTON GUNN: Well, there's a lot of reasons it took long, and the first reason is, pitchfork Ben Tillman, the Governor of South Carolina in 1890, who oversaw the constitutional convention that transformed the state and snatched away voting rights and other political rights to African-Americans and for 142 years we've had a drought where African-Americans haven't had the ability to ascend to a statewide office. Now we've elected people to the legislature, but never to a statewide office. And you can thank Ben Tillman for putting that in place and making it difficult across the country, but the example primarily right here is in South Carolina.
MELVIN: Senator Tim Scott, as you know, running to remain in the Senate after being appointed back in 2012 when Jim DeMint stepped down to run Heritage. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford says, quote, the color of his skin, he’s talking about Tim Scott here, the color of his skin certainly is not representative of the way that he votes on the policies that he seems to side with. Senator Scott's take on this, quote, his response, "The theory that there's some monolithic group of thinkers called the black community, is just not consistent with reality." Would Senator Scott's election, would it come with an asterisk like Rutherford's suggesting or seems to be suggesting here?
GUNN: See, here's what I like to say about that, African-Americans don't vote as a monolith they don’t think like a monolith either, but the point is, the policies are what matters. If you’re talking about policies that advance the diversity in South Carolina, that advance small businesses, black and white, in economic conditions, educational conditions, those policies matter, so it doesn't really matter, you know, who you are as a person, but the policies that you're advancing as a candidate, what does that mean for all the of the people of South Carolina, and when you have a state that the population is almost 30% African-American and you don't see the same advancements in education and economic development and business opportunities, you really got to look to see what the candidates are doing, what their policies are, what the elected officials are doing. So I wouldn't call it an asterisk, but I would say you have to focus on what is Tim Scott going to do for the South Carolina people to give them the opportunities that everybody else is seeing in other cities and states around the country.