When the subject of race comes up, MSNBC has an odd habit of bringing on highly controversial guests with a history of racially insensitive comments to discuss race in America. Take for example the recent controversy surrounding chef Paula Deen whose contract with the Food Network was not renewed following revelations during a legal deposition that she had used the N-word in private conversation.
What better person for MSNBC to bring on to discuss Ms. Deen than its own N-word throwing host, who in August of 2012 chose to use the racial epithet on his show “The Cycle.” Appearing with fellow MSNBC host Thomas Roberts on June 25, Toure slammed Ms. Deen for what he called, “a representative now of an ideology that we thought was dead that we hoped was dead that some of us feared still existed in some people." [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Toure began his rant by ridiculously comparing Ms. Deen’s private commentary to accused murderer George Zimmerman:
The news you’ve already been reporting today. We had the Supreme Court talking about the Voting Rights Act and Justice Roberts conceding discrimination still exists. Right? And you just talked about the George Zimmerman trial, right? Where a young black man had somebody talking about black stereotypes and then he gets killed.
Toure didn’t stop there, claiming that, “She cannot be on a national stage because a national corporation cannot be associated with somebody who's feeling like that.” Really? This coming from a man who not only has used the N-word on air, but also questioned whether or not 9/11 was an inside job. Toure has no basis to claim a company cannot employ an individual like Ms. Deen when NBC, owned by cable giant Comcast, continues to employ Toure who makes extreme comments on a regular basis.
No one is condoning Ms. Deen’s comments, but she made them in private, whereas Toure said the N-word on air, under the banner of MSNBC, which under his own definition, must mean MSNBC and its audience “continue to support...the empire, then you are saying racism does not matter to me.”
Toure, who suggested in a tweet yesterday that he hopes Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't celebrate many more birthdays -- is the last person MSNBC should use to be the arbiter of racial acceptance in America, and if he believes Ms. Deen has no place on television for her private comments then MSNBC should lead by example and not be “associated with somebody who's feeling like that.”
See relevant transcript below.
June 25, 2013
11:50 a.m. Eastern
THOMAS ROBERTS: So less than 24 hours before Paula Deen makes an appearance on the "Today" show to address the racism scandal, her sons are defending their mother against accusations that she used the "n" word in the past and suggest what they think is behind all these charges.
BOBBY DEEN: Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted towards any other person for any reason. I'm disgusted by the entire thing, because it began as extortion, and it has become character assassination.
ROBERTS: Alright, so obviously her reputation, her empire are both at stake here. Deen's contract with the food network, restaurants and cookbooks all worth an estimated $6.5 million a year but could she lose it all? We know that the Food Network has decided not renew her contract after June. Smithfield Foods is the latest company to cut their ties with Deen as their spokesperson just days after the Food Network again said it wasn't going forward with a new contract with her. Others like QVC are "reviewing" its deal with Deen while Sears, Target and Valentine Books are taking a wait-and-see approach. But at a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia she’s not short on support from fans and some are calling for a boycott of the Food Network for not renewing her contract. Joining me now, Toure, he’s co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle.” He’s also the author of who's afraid of post-blackness, what it means to be black now." So Toure it’s great to have you to talk about this. And as you know, she abruptly cancelled her "Today" show appearance last week. This is now going to be on the heels of releasing those two YouTube statements that didn't go over so well. How do you think she can redeem herself tomorrow? Obviously there’s been a lot of time and effort that’s been put in to her coming out tomorrow on the "Today" show.
TOURE: Well let me say this first. This story is not disconnected from what's going on. From the news you’ve already been reporting today. We had the Supreme Court talking about the Voting Rights Act and Justice Roberts conceding discrimination still exists. Right? And you just talked about the George Zimmerman trial, right? Where a young black man had somebody talking about black stereotypes and then he gets killed. Right? So these sorts of ideas we fear still exist in the world, still impact us. And when we see somebody come out and say, yes, these are things that I still believe in, that I still hold dear. This dream of a southern wedding, this traditional southern wedding. This is not stuff that makes Don Imus look bad, this is Trent Lott, stuff. This is really really ugly.
ROBERTS: But this is not an elected official. This is a lady that cooks butter sandwiches on the Food Network. She's not some type of ideological leader. She is a chef.
TOURE: Right, but she's a representative now of an ideology that we thought was dead that we hoped was dead that some of us feared still existed in some people. And she now becomes a symbol where if you continue to support the restaurants and the empire, then you are saying racism does not matter to me. Right? I only look at food and I would support somebody who would support those sort of things. Now look, there is an audience that will be defiant, that will say, I'm still going to those restaurants. I only want the food. I don't care what she thinks. All I care is what hits my plate. But she's no longer going to be able to be sort of ready for prime-time; she's a not-for-prime time player now. She cannot be on a national stage because a national corporation cannot be associated with somebody who's feeling like that.
ROBERTS: Well, unfortunately, because national corporations don't care about what she's saying around her kitchen table. They care about the fact that she's not worth dollar signs anymore. Whether or not her books are going to sell or the people are going to tune in for butter sandwiches to see her cook them up. That's true.
TOURE: But let me say one other thing. When her son’s say she didn't teach us these things -- well of course not. That's not how racism is passed down from generation to generation. It's not that she would sit in the kitchen and say hate black people--that's not how it goes. These messages come through in more implicate and subtle, nuanced ways. Now, not everybody who has a racist parent becomes racist but these messages come through in ways that they are not really alluding to.