Chris Matthews Ignores Dem Senator's Attack on Desegregation; Spends Most of 'Hardball' Blasting GOP As Racist

October 21st, 2014 9:28 PM

MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews conveniently failed to pick up on a damning scoop published Tuesday by the Washington Free Beacon regarding Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and a college paper he wrote in the mid-1980s slamming the federal government's role in desegregating the South. The federal government's role in the matter was an "unwilling invasion," a young Pryor insisted, according to the Free Beacon's Alan Goodman, who read the 30-page thesis.

Had the person who wrote this been Republican challenger Tom Cotton, there's little doubt it would be trumpeted by Matthews as neo-Confederate lunacy and an indictment of the GOP in the South, if not nationally. But alas, crickets. 

Instead, Matthews and his liberal guests spent the lion's share of the program blasting the GOP as racist for pursuing voter ID laws. Here's just a taste of Matthews's invective, the transcript of his opening commentary: 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Killing the black vote. This is Hardball.

[opening theme music]

MATTHEWS: Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews in Washington. This is rotten stuff, isn't it? The Republican effort to kill the black vote in state after state. 

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Texas. We can all see what they're doing. Believing they can't convert the African-American vote, they've decided to slaughter it. Early voting, shrink it down to nothing or kill it altogether.

Sunday voting, that souls-to-the-polls thing? Slam the door on it. Same-day registration, you got to be kidding. That's like putting down a welcome mat for African-American voters. Look, this is murder in broad daylight. 

One Republican bigshot after another is telling us just exactly what they're up to. It's not about reform or making elections more honest. The one thing they're actually honest about, if you catch them at it, is motive. This whole thing is aimed at killing the African-American vote.

Matthews then aired clips of a few isolated Republicans making comments on voter ID, the most offensive of which, and downright racist at that, was an obscure North Carolina precinct chairman, vaulted to infamy for his remarks during an interview for the Daily Show.

But hey, that was all Matthews needed to kickstart the program with a vicious attack on Republicans as racist at worst and crassly partisan at best. After all, only two weeks remain until Election Day, and MSNBC has to do its level best to scare disengaged Democrats into voting in the primaries by stoking fears of a vast, racist conspiracy to deny some Americans the franchise.

Later in the program, guest panelist and MSNBC contributor Michelle Bernard -- who in August infamously declared there's a "war on black boys" in America -- picked up on Matthews's alarmist  "murder in broad daylight" language and ran with it, going so far as to suggest the GOP was at war to keep black Americans in a "permanent underclass":

MATTHEWS: I just think it's gotten completely out of hand and partisan. I don't think it's necessarily racist, but if I were black and somebody said you can't vote because of this little thing I got going here, I'd take it personal.

MICHELLE BERNARD Well, how could you not take it personal? As an African-American, particularly as an African-American woman, I would say that you sit back and you watch and although we know it's not legally permissible, it feels as though it has been legally permissible to murder Trayvon Martin, to murder Michael Brown, and then, of course, what follows up next is to murder black people's ability to vote. 

Weeks ago I said that some Americans have declared a war on black boys. It feels like some Americans have declared a war on black people period. If you have to stand in line for a long time to vote, it's a poll tax. And it's a poll tax that people that are minimum wage workers cannot afford to pay. 

If you have to provide ID and you don't have access to ID, it is another way of killing black America and relegating us to a permanent underclass. It's awful.

Of course it was segregation in the Jim Crow South, supported by Democrats, which kept blacks in a permanent underclass. While Pryor doesn't appear to have defended segregation per se, his attack on the federal government's superceding of local and state governments to dismantle Jim Crow certainly must give pause to many voters, but particularly African-Americans, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

But, of course, the Pryor controversy doesn't fit the preferred narrative at the Lean Forward network, nor does bringing it up help Democrats' chances of retaining the Senate.