On Wednesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, a panel that included host Mitchell, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, and New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor spent several minutes fretting over Trump administration immigration policy with Alcindor suggesting that it would "enact racist laws." And Capehart worried that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is "very dangerous" and will try to "hold minorities down."
Near the end of her show, host MItchell introduced the segment by playing an audio clip of Sessions being interviewed by Steve Bannon for Breitbart Radio in October 2015. The then-Senator informed listeners that a historically high percentage of U.S. residents are immigrants, and recalled that in 1924 immigration law was changed to restrict the number of immigrants so that the population successfully became more assimilated over the next 40 years.
Although Sessions made no mention of wanting to employ the kind of racial discrimination that the 1924 law used -- as he only referred to how it changed the number of new immigrants -- Mitchell seemed to assume that the Attorney General approved of the racial restrictions in the law as she responded: "It's a stunning revelation to hear Jeff Sessions only two years ago -- he was a U.S. Senator -- and now is of course the Attorney General of our land -- talking about what was basically one of the most racist laws ever passed by the United States..."
Capehart deceptively suggested that Sessions had described the U.S. as a "white nation" -- even though he did not -- as the liberal Washington Post columnist began:
Yes, and it's chilling to listen to then-Senator Jeff Sessions basically say that the United States is a white nation and this law from 1924 helped keep it that way, but, oh my God, if we don't do something, that's all going to change because black and brown people demographically are taking over.
He then worried that Sessions wants to "hold minorities down" as Capehart added:
And now that Jeff Sessions is Attorney General of the United States, he is now in a position to do anything and everything in his power to limit immigration, to hold -- as Maxine Waters said to me in an interview for my podcast a few months ago -- she said she believes that it is Jeff Sessions -- he believes it is his right to hold minorities down.
The liberal columnist ended up demonizing the Attorney General as "very dangerous" as he concluded:
And when you look at some of the pictures from yesterday when he announced the rescission of DACA, before he got to the microphone, the face that he had, this very smiling face that he had won yet another victory in the Trump administration of first being, you know, the rescission of the transgender bathroom issue in the Department of Education staring down Betsy DeVos. And now this, staring down a conflicted -- well, we assume conflicted -- President on DACA. Jeff Sessions -- from that clip to his actions yesterday -- is a very -- I'll say it -- a very dangerous man.
Alcindor then jumped in and pushed the view that the Trump administration is trying to "enact racist laws" and "racist agendas." Here's Alcindor:
I think that for me, this goes to the core of all the reporting that I was doing when Donald Trump was running for office -- people were so terrified of the President. It wasn't like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio where people say, you know, I don't agree with them politically -- people were scared and crying when President Trump was elected. And they did that because they really feared that he was gonna enact racist laws.
And when you think about this -- I was just interviewing a young girl crying in the U.S. Capitol today, a DACA recipient who said, "America has a racist strain in it, and the moment we -- the moment where we actually acknowledge that and we say, 'Look, we're coming from this place that there are actual racist agendas at work -- when we think about the policies that are being passed, then we can really have a conversation about this.'" And I think, in some ways, she was right.
But even some liberals -- like CNN's Fareed Zakaria, historian Jon Meacham and HBO comedian and liberal activist Bill Maher -- have acknowledged that a desire to assimilate immigrants into the culture is not necessarily motivated by racism. This sort of rational concern about assimilation has been missing not only from this Andrea Mitchell Reports segment but from MSNBC generally.