Watch: MSNBC Talking Heads in Bitter Argument Over Race

by | February 1, 2012 at 3:21 PM | TV News

Three liberal MSNBC personalities took on one Newt Gingrich supporter in a bitter clash over allegations that Gingrich used “race-baiting” language during the campaign preceding his loss to Mitt Romney in the Florida primary on Tuesday.

The dust-up was seen Tuesday night during MSNBC’s coverage of the primary, in a segment anchored by Rachel Maddow, who was assisted by fellow MSNBC’ers Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell. The man on the right was Rick Tyler, apparently an official of the pro-Gingrich “SuperPac” known as Winning Our Future.

If you have the stomach for this kind of “discourse,” then watch the segment right here:

OK, were you able to get through that whole thing? Our take: We’re constantly amazed at the numbers of people today who have such strong appetites for this kind of political “debate” on TV. To us, though, it’s really like the “spoken word” equivalent of a televised wrestling match.

Sometimes we can get into watching these things. This time, though, not so much. In this one, it seemed like none of the MSNBC’ers really felt like listening to this other guy’s viewpoint. And the fact that there were three of them and one of him felt like they were ganging up on him.

As you’ve just seen, if you watched the clip, the wide-ranging issues under “discussion” included: Whether or not African-American children in the U.S. today have an adequate number of successful role models from whom to learn; and which party, Republicans or Democrats, was more on-board with black civil rights in (a) the years leading up the Civil War (the 1850s) and (b) during the struggle for equal rights and civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

But the debate started on a much different note, which was: The topic of how Gingrich apparently phrased two statements he made recently in reference to President Obama. In one of them, Gingrich referred to Obama’s singing of one brief line from an Al Green song recently — a “performance” that seemed innocent and endearing to most of us — by calling the President the “Entertainer in Chief.” In the other statement, Gingrich called Obama “the food-stamp president,” a reference to the increase in food stamp distribution under the Obama administration (a contention that’s been reported and disputed all over the place lately).

The argument really came down to language. In initiating the discussion, Maddow called the phrases “racially coded language.” Tyler, the Gingrich supporter who said he’s known the former Speaker for years, said the language was not “racially coded.”

That seems simple enough. And yet, the argument went on for more than 11 minutes.

And Election Year 2012 is only a month old.