Wrapping up a segment regarding the arrest of an elderly white North Carolina man for sucker-punching a Trump rally protester, MSNBC's Chris Matthews held back from saying the motive must be racism but concluded that "anything you want to assume about it, I think, is fair at this point."
Moments earlier, asked about whether the motive was racial, Matthews's guest Michelle Bernard – who has insisted there's a "war" on young black men in America – answered in the affirmative:
"I think, I believe it was because he was black, it was because he saw this as someone who is not quote-unquote one of us," Bernard insisted, seeking to blow up the incident as a potential indictment of the entire GOP by wondering, "Does today's Republican Party want to be known as the party of Donald Trump?"
Here are the relevant transcript and video:
March 10, 2016; 7:09 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS, anchor: Michelle, I'm kind of amazed as you might have been by sort of the calmness by which this guy was sucker punched, to use a high school, a schoolyard [term], he was really punched. And the way he took the punch and the way he’s talked about it. And his friend was with him to video it. They seem like they have it all figured out. What do you think of the incident itself? What does it say?
MICHELLE BERNARD: The incident itself is absolutely horrifying, and I'm going to sort of paraphrase Jorge Ramos, but remember he is the journalist who had these scuffles with Donald Trump back in August.
And one of the statements he made is that Donald Trump is fomenting hatred and racism. And it’s no surprise that Donald Trump says that he wished he could punch someone in the face in February.
It's no surprise that the lowest of the low who are supporting his candidacy punched someone in the face in March, I think it would be pretty difficult to argue that there isn't some sort of a connection, when you have reporters who are of Latin descent being told to go back to your country or get out of my country or you have this man who sucker-punched the African-American young male last night, saying you know, we don't know who he is, he could be ISIS, he could be a terrorist, what we do know is he isn't acting American it is a very, very scary time in our nation, and the fact that Donald Trump is garnering so much support, all over the country, I think it spells for a very difficult time in American history and a difficult time for the Republican Party.
Does today's Republican Party want to be known as the party of Donald Trump? And you know, as Jorge Ramos said back in August, this is our country, it is not Donald Trump's country.
MATTHEWS: I'm with you on this. I just think it's hard for me, you don't know about the personal motivation, we'll know more when this guy talks, but it’s your assumption it had something to do with the race, the ethnicity, of that guy, it wasn't just that he was a protester. It was [because he was] black.
BERNARD: No, I think, I think, I believe it was because he was black, it was because he saw this as someone who is not quote-unquote one of us. You know, being unpatriotic, whatever that means to him towards Donald Trump, and you know, and I want to go back to what Bob [Costa of the Washington Post] said earlier.
It's not just the sort of socioeconomic level of the people that that we saw him punch this man in the face earlier today on another network, a person who was on The Apprentice with Donald Trump, and I believe it's being reported was once president of Trump Productions, went on television and defended the man for punching this young man in the face, thought that it was a helluva punch delivered by a 78-year-old, and basically, I believe, was quoted as saying something to the effect of these liberals don't have any respect for freedom of speech. You don't see people going out to a Hillary Clinton campaign and causing this kind of trouble. It's a problem.
MATTHEWS: I think everybody saw what that was. That was a punch delivered directly to the face of somebody with tremendous hatred and anger, and with anything you want to assume about it, I think, is fair at this point.