This afternoon on MSNBC's The Cycle co-host Ari Melber conducted a live interview with liberal Democratic Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and libertarian-conservative Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) about their bipartisan Redeem Act proposal -- Redeem standing for Record Expungement Designed to ENhance EMployment.
Unfortunately for viewers, Melber insisted on playing the Lean Forward's favorite hand, flopping out the race card twice: by suggesting Sen. Paul once opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the second by pressing Sen. Booker to accept the left-wing premise that the nation's drug laws were intentionally racist by design [LISTEN to MP3 audio here; video follows page break].
For his part, Paul firmly but politely fought back against Melber, and MSNBC in general, for its penchant of misrepresenting and misreporting things in a concerted effort to paint Paul and other conservatives in a negative light as regards race relations and civil rights protections for racial minorities:
Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it, yeah, and I learned my lesson: to come on MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out of the woodwork and they will go crazy and say you're against the Civil Rights Act and you're some terrible racist.
And I take great objection to that. Because, in Congress I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fairer. So, I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I'm not.
....I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act, and I have been attacked by half a dozen people on your network trying to say that I'm opposed to the Civil Rights Act and somehow now I've changed.
So, I'm not really willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this because I have never been against the Civil Rights Act, I have never said I was against it. So, for people to say that, really they don't want to have an honest discussion about it.... When your network does 24 hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.
Moments earlier, Melber asked both Paul and Booker about racial disparities in drug prosecutions. After Paul insisted there was no racist design in the nation's drug laws, Melber sought to create distance between him and his Democratic colleague, asking Booker about whether the so-called War on Drugs was "accidentally racist" or "explicitly so."
Booker, a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, rebuked Melber. "You're complicating this far more than it needs to be," Booker answered, adding that the criminal justice system is a "dumb broken system" that needs to be made to "work for every American" rather than "spend[ing] a quarter of a trillion dollars locking up non-violent drug offenders and others."
"This system is broken" and "you don't need to be black or white [to see that]... you just got to do something about it," Booker added.