On CNN Newsroom Monday, host Brianna Keilar claimed that she covered an incident or incidents involving Tea Party "people" (plural) who spit on members of Congress and hurled racial slang terms at African-American members of Congress.
In the Tea Party's seven-plus years of national presence, there is only one known event involving two separate incidents when what Keilar referred to could conceivably have occurred. Despite what Keilar claims took place, and despite the presence of hundreds of fellow protesters and dozens of phone and other cameras at the incidents, no one has ever proven that anyone deliberately spat on a member of Congress, nor has anyone proven that racial epithets or slang terms were hurled. The available evidence indicates that these things never happened.
Updated: Roberts defends himself on Twitter (see bottom of post) | In a segment today on MSNBC Live entitled "Who's Got the Ground Game?" and ostensibly about how both the Democrats and Republicans were working hard to get out their voters to the polls on election day and to the early voting stations before hand, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts set out to attack the GOP for pushing for a "poll tax" with voter ID requirements.
"Did Republicans [put] too much stock in voter suppression issues and not enough in the ground game," Roberts asked Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer, asking if the GOP put too much "emphasis" in GOP-controlled state legislatures.
On Sunday morning's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, the host noted angrily that 17 Democrats voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents in the Fast & Furious scandal. Harris-Perry brought on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask him if it wouldn't be better for the Democrats to go "without" the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dogs in favor of a "more easily corralled group."
Harris demanded all Democrats need to "get on the same page" before the Democrats convene in Charlotte in September, and nearly omnipresent MSNBC guest Karen Finney suggested the 17 anti-Holder Democrats were all terrified of the NRA and other outside spending groups:
It seems facts are an inconvenient nuisance to anchors at MSNBC, especially when they get in the way of their favored narratives. A perfect case in point is morning anchor Thomas Roberts who treated his 11 a.m. Eastern MSNBC Live audience to an error-laden report on the GOP's supposed concerted effort to "block the vote" in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Roberts began by noting a GOP legislator Mike Turzai (R) from the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, whose "recent comment" has "revived debate over what many say is a concerted Republican effort to block key votes in battleground states."
Well, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, apparently has Missouri Democratic Congressman and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver's back. As of 2:40 p.m., there is no national story relevant to Cleaver's unpaid $1 million-plus loan at the wire service's national site, even though information published by the Kansas City Star late Friday evening (interesting timing; HT to KC Star's David Helling, who later informed me that the story made Page A-1 of the Star's Saturday print edition, while the original received the same placement on Friday) indicates that taxpayers could be out up to $1.1 million because the Small Business Administration-backed a loan to Cleaver's car wash business back in 2002 which is has been seriously delinquent for years. The Bank has sued for repayment.
There is an unbylined local AP story which appears to have been published shortly after midnight on Monday (shown in full because of its brevity and for fair use and discussion purposes):
As of 11:55 a.m., a search at the Associated Press's national site on "Cleaver" returns nothing related to an April 6 story reported at the Kansas City star (HT Nice Deb via Gateway Pundit) that Bank of America has sued Missouri Congressman and Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver for repayment of a $1 million-plus loan relating to a car wash.
The KC Star didn't exactly provide exemplary coverage in its report. One would think from reading the story's headline and first two paragraphs that Bank of America and the congressman are having some kind of difficult conversation. In paragraph 3, we finally learn that there really is a lawsuit involved. It took the Star seven paragraphs to indicate that taxpayers may be on the hook and eight paragraphs to tag Cleaver as a Dem (impact-minimizing words in bold):
Are the mainstream media playing fast and loose with their coverage of the tea parties and what the tea party activists believe? Andrew Breitbart says they are, and points to accusations of racism.
Breitbart spoke at one of the tea party events held near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. on April 15. He said his involvement in the movement began when he realized how the media would react to the Tea Party movement and detailed an incident in which Contessa Brewer's MSNBC cropped out the face of a black man in footage of a tea party event to make the movement appear to lack diversity.
"I think that we're going to have a problem if we want to start talking about founding fathers, the founding documents, what the origins of our country because the mainstream media is not going to like what you have to say, and so I volunteered myself," Breitbart said. "And on day one, I had to contend with the fact that you guys were called ‘teabaggers.' And I had to deal with the fact an unfortunately named sister, by the name of Contessa Brewer on MSNBC, before you even spoke, told you what your grievances were to the country and our dissent his patriotic presidency. This person took a photo and cut off the head of a black man, and asked is the tea party nation - are the people who are protesting Barack Obama racist? The person was black."
I've talked to many, many readers this week about continuing fallout from claims that members of "tea party" protests shouted racial slurs at members of the Congressional Black Caucus and one spat on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver on March 20.
The Web and the talk shows are awash with reports that the word "nigger" wasn't recorded by people with video cameras. Some have also disputed that Cleaver was spat on, though a video shows pretty clearly to me that he reacted that way contemporaneously. Was it simply spittle from the man yelling in his face, rather than a single intentional spit? You can't tell from the video -- but if someone was yelling at me so forcefully that he also spit on me, I'm not sure I'd make much differentiation there.
As I wrote earlier in the week, the initial report in The Star March 21 should have attributed the claims to the people who made them, instead of simply reporting them as fact.
Yes, a story by William Douglas which was speed written in record time. Of course, the Kansas City Star is now taking its sweet time about actually verifying the "facts" behind the story. One place they might want to start is by Googling "Emanuel Cleaver" and discovering his latest reaction to the spitting incident:
...I checked with my source on the scene, Greg Farrell, to get a timeline on the passage of the Black Caucus members from the Cannon Building to the Capitol and back. According to Farrell, they left the Cannon Building about 2:30 PM on March 20th and returned about 3:15 PM. He had no reason to exaggerate.
I asked because at 4:51 that same day, McClatchy reporter William Douglas posted an article on the McClatchy website with the inflammatory headline, "Tea party protesters scream 'nigger' at black congressman."
In other words, Douglas, with an attributed assist from James Rosen, managed to interview representatives John Lewis, Emanuel Cleaver, and Barney Frank, compose an 800-word article, and have it edited and formatted for posting within a 90-minute window.