In a country where there are more than 7,000 state legislators who have been elected across the 50 states, it's not unexpected that members in both parties from time to time can be found making statements or taking actions that are embarrassing or indefensible.
Such happenings are typically limited to local media coverage, so the relatively few cases that are incendiary enough to attract national media attention can expose some double standards and biases in who is more likely to be called out by which sources.
On Tuesday's New Day, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo took a couple of minutes to recall that a Republican state representative in Kansas recently made an indefensible statement claiming that African-Americans are more likely to have problems with illicit drug use because of their genetics.
Co-hosts Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota rightly found the comments indefensible, but, last August, when a Democratic state senator in Missouri attracted national attention when she actually posted on her Facebook page a desire to see President Donald Trump assassinated, the hosts of New Day made no mention of the story, according to a Nexis search.
However, host Don Lemon did condemn the comments on his CNN Tonight show, and anchor John Berman asked a guest about the issue on CNN Newsroom around the time when New Day was ignoring the story.
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, January 9, New Day on CNN:
7:59 a.m. ET
CHRIS CUOMO: You ready for this? This Kansas state lawmaker was in this town meeting arguing about whether or not to legalize marijuana, okay? And one of his reasons for being against the legalization was this. Listen carefully -- the tape's not great.
STATE REP. STEVE ALFORD (R-KS): What you really need to do is go back in the '30s and when they outlawed all type of drugs in Kansas and across the United States, what was the reason they did that? One of the reasons why -- and they just say the African-Americans, they were basically users, and they basically responded the worst to all those drugs. It's because their character, makeup, their genetics.
CUOMO: That is Republican State Representative Steve Alford in a public meeting, and, yes, he just said African-Americans had the worst response to marijuana as a function of their character and makeup. He then issued a statement saying he was wrong -- duh -- and sincerely apologized to anyone he hurt.
Why do we play this? Because racism and ignorant thoughts about race don't always exist in the loudness of the KKK or people carrying banners or saying things that are noxious and voluble. It's often quiet moments and people who believe things that feed a very corrosive sense of fairness and of humanity. That's what this is. I'm not saying this is a bad guy. I'm saying that he believed this to be true, and it is poppycock.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Yeah, but what rock has he been living under? I mean, how did he get to his advanced age with those notions? He lives in Kansas. I'm betting that white people in Kansas have a substance abuse problem, and he knows that, so how could he possibly still harbor these feelings? I mean, I just think that it begs a lot of questions about his history.
CUOMO: It is what they call conditioned or implicit bias. The facts are clear. There is no fact that supports what he said. In fact, if you look at the opioid epidemic, it is greatly disproportionately white. Does that mean our character and makeup is bad? Anyway, it's worth exposing so that we remember it's out there. We need to be better.