During the final segment of Saturday’s edition of AM Joy, host Joy Reid pushed MSNBC's impeachment obsession, interviewing author Brenda Wineapple. Reid prefaced the interview by comparing Donald Trump to the notoriously racist President Andrew Johnson, whom she described as “another presidential villain.” The MSNBC host repeatedly doubled down on that comparison in addition to advancing the myth that the two major political parties “reversed” in the time between the Civil War and the present day.
After introducing Wineapple, Reid reinforced the comparison of Trump to Johnson by quoting from a New York Times article called “Donald Trump, Meet Your Precursor.” Excerpts from the article appeared on screen along with the photograph that accompanied the article; which features part of Trump’s face superimposed onto a picture of Johnson. Reid read aloud from the piece, seeming to agree with every word of it: “both men made an undisguised championship of white supremacy - the lodestar of their presidencies - and played on the politics of racial division.”
When she finished reading the excerpt, Reid asked Wineapple, author of the book The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation: “Where do you see the through-line between these two men and their impeachments?” Wineapple referred to Johnson’s desire to stand “in the way of civil rights for former enslaved people” and “deny them political rights as well” as a “through-line” to what’s taking place in Washington right now.
Another “through-line” mentioned by Wineapple appeared to delight Reid even more. According to Wineapple, Johnson “called the press the enemy of the people, he denied the legitimacy of Congress, he obstructed justice, he abused his power.” At this point, Reid quipped “Other than hosting a reality show, it sounds like the same guy” before Wineapple continued to compare Trump to Johnson by saying Johnson “did have rallies.”
Reid’s argument that the parties “reversed” likely rests on the fact that the South, which used to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, now votes mostly Republican. Perhaps it never occurred to Reid that the South votes Republican because, as Dr. Carol Swain pointed out in a PragerU video exposing the myth of the “Southern Strategy,” “The South itself has changed. Its values have changed. The racism that once defined it doesn’t anymore. Its values today are conservative ones: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-small government.”
Don’t expect Reid and her colleagues to start telling the truth about the “southern strategy” anytime soon. After all, it’s much more fun for them to smear Trump (and his voters) as backward racists.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Saturday’s edition of AM Joy is below. Click “expand” to read more.
JOY REID: Impeachment is built into the Constitution; mandated in cases of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” And all through its history…and although its history, sorry, is rare, Donald Trump is of course not the first President to face an impeachment proceeding. And while there are obvious parallels to Richard Nixon and the Watergate era, Nixon actually resigned before he was formally impeached and removed. Trump’s situation actually bears much more resemblance to the impeachment of another presidential villain, Andrew Johnson, who assumed the presidency after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. And joining me now is Brenda Wineapple, and she’s the author of the great new book, The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. And Brenda, thank you so much for being here. You were on my wish list of…thank you to my booking producers, because I started…I just started reading your book.
BRENDA WINEAPPLE: Oh, wonderful.
REID: It’s so good.
WINEAPPLE: Thank you.
REID: So good. And…and one of the things that I’m going to read you…this isn’t from your book; this is actually from The New York Times, and it’s a piece called “Donald Trump, Meet Your…Your Precursor,” about the shared…the things that they have in common. It says, “Most significantly, both men,” this is Trump and Andrew Johnson…
REID: …“made an undisguised championship of white supremacy - the lodestar of their presidencies - and played on the politics racial division. Johnson peddled the racist myth that Southern white voters were victimized by black emancipation and citizenship, which became an article of faith among Lost Cause proponents of the postwar South.” The irony, of course, is that Johnson was a Democrat when Democrats were the conservative party…
WINEAPPLE: That’s right.
REID: …and he had paired with Nixon, the Republican. Where do you see the through-line between these two men and their impeachments?
WINEAPPLE: Well, first of all, you’re right. I mean, Johnson was a villain. He was…he, he played on white supremacy. He wanted to turn the country back, backwards, before the Civil War, and he wanted to give the southern whites, the former Confederacy, he wanted to restore their power, which is…was unthinkable at the time, because the war had been fought, not only to abolish slavery, but to get rid of the pernicious effects of slavery and make the country free and fair and, you know, and equal citizenship for all. But Johnson stood in the way, really, of civil rights for the former enslaved people; four million of them. And then, of course, he wanted to deny them political rights as well. So, there’s a…there’s a through-line there, but he was also a demagogue. He called the…he, he called his, his enemies…he called for their execution. He called the press the enemy of the people. He denied the legitimacy of Congress, he obstructed justice, he abused his power. I think that’s, you know, quite a mouthful, actually. There’s quite a bit that…
REID: Yeah, I think…
WINEAPPLE: …he did.
REID: Other than…other than hosting a reality show, it sounds like the same guy.
WINEAPPLE: Exactly, exactly. Good thing he didn’t have Twitter, but he, you know, but he did have rallies. He went…
REID: In other words, he had as low poll numbers, if not lower than the current President of the United States. And just briefly before we let you go, whenever I have a historian on, I like the historian to remind the country, these two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, were exactly reversed…
REID: …at that time.
WINEAPPLE: Exactly. The Republicans, as I said, were formed as kind of a coalition, antislavery party. It was very, very clear, that’s what they stood for. And the Democrats were for, you know, small government and became associated with the South, the…you know, white supremacists at the time…