-By Warner Todd Huston
Proving that nothing so painfully obvious as Joe Biden saying that Republicans want to bring back chattel slavery can't be spun away into meaningless babble, MSNBC trotted out Joy-Ann Reid on the August 15 broadcast of News Nation with Tameron Hall to prove it could be done.
On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden perpetrated yet another one of his near daily gaffes at a rally in Danville, Virginia. His comments drew sharp criticism from Romney, Republicans -- any clear thinking person should be aghast at Biden's remarks , really -- and this prompted MSNBC to cast about to find some way to obviate Biden's clear context into something that would reflect badly against Republicans instead of Biden and Obama.
In Virginia Biden said, "Look at what they value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street."
Biden next lapsed into street talk, or what some might call black dialect, dramatically saying, "They’re going to put y’all back in chains."
Why, what ever could ol' "Sheriff" Joe mean?
Enter one Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC commentator and editor of The Grio, an African American focused news and opinion website, to tell us that Joe Biden talking in minstrel-like, black dialect didn't mean he was talking to black people!
In fact, she's "offended" that people would think that a white guy lapsing into black dialect might be thought of as speaking to and about black people.
On MSNBC, Reid protested the interpretation that Biden was talking to blacks.
And I think, you know, this is sort of about the media because the Associated Press story that came out sort of read that into it. Which I think as an African American I found inappropriate and a little offensive. Because the fact that if you say the word 'chains' and there are any black people in the room you're talking about them I think leaps to a conclusion that is unfair both to Biden and to African Americans.
And if Romney thinks he's going to scold good ol' Joe for his obvious pandering to African Americans by telling them that Republicans want to put them back in chains, well, Mitt's should just shut up because "he's the wrong messenger" to talk about slavery and such.
Reid said she put the question to her The Grio audience and, "people almost to a person said, You know what, wrong messenger first of all for the Republicans, we get what Joe Biden was gonna say, and don't assume that because there were any black people in the room that he was talking about us. So, a lot of people were offended at the context that the media put on it assuming he meant us."
This is the pretzel-contorting, back-bending lengths to which MSNBC is going to excuse Joe Biden for his outrageous comments.
Joy-Ann Reid has attacked Mitt Romney before, calling him a racist back in January for observing his religious convictions to help the poor when he helped an African American woman who came to see him at a campaign stop.
Then Reid said Romney was a racist for helping the elderly woman with her electric bill.
Of course, Romney was in no way pandering when he helped the poor woman out with $50 out of his own pocket. Romney has a long history of giving a large percentage of his yearly income to the poor in keeping with his religious tenets. Mitt, for example, gave $2,983,374 in charitable donations in 2010.
By contrast, Joe Biden gave a grand total of $4,820 to charity in 2010.
But remember. Mitt is the evil one.
Joy-Ann Reid: Let's start with the Biden Comment. I think it's a good start because I think this is one of those cases where it's an inappropriate messenger, right? I think that Republicans hoped that they could read in some sort of racial aspect to the comments because there were some black people in the room. And I think, you know, this is sort of about the media because the Associated Press story that came out sort of read that into it. Which I think as an African American I found inappropriate and a little offensive. Because the fact that if you say the word 'chains' and there are any black people in the room you're talking about them I think leaps to a conclusion that is unfair both to Biden and to African Americans.
Host: OK Joy-Ann that's two things. One, I think that regardless of what happens this is taking away from the Democrats' focus on the, uh, plan that the Republican House has put forth which includes massive changes to Medicare and even to Social Security. So that's a plus for the Republicans if that's not the issue being discussed on this cycle for 24 hours.
But let me ask you a question and this, I've been thinking a lot about this because I have a lot of comments on this issue. If you and I are in a party, and some white guy that we don't know -- we don't know if he's a Democrat or Republican, good or bad guy -- he says, "If things change around here, you guys are gonna to go back to chains!" What are we gonna think? Let's be honest, we don't know who this person is, just some white guy saying "you guys are gonna go back to chains," what are you gonna think?
Joy-Ann Reid: This is the problem, if Joe Biden said that in a black church with an entire audience...
Host: No, no answer my question. I'm talking about a white guy, whether there's black people or not, majority, minority. If you're in a place and some white guy that you don't know says, "What ever happens politically, that means you guys are going back to chains." Because I know there's a lot of people in Latin America, that come from Latin America, that come rom right-wing dictatorships, and some left-wing dictatorships, that going back to chains is very real and relevant in their lives or in their parent's lives and it happens to all of us.
Joy-Ann Reid: Well I think that context matters, if the Republican Party was saying "unshackle Wall Street," and then you comment that they want to put you back in chains and you're talking about Wall Street, and nothing...
Host: You heard them say that, I haven't? Chains?
Joy-Ann Reid: Yeah absolutely.Unshackling Wall Street is part of Mitt Romney's talking points.
Host: Yeah, yeah, yeah but I'm saying what does that have to do with people? I mean now we're saying that Wall Street are people, corporations are people...
Joy-Ann Reid: They have said that too.
Host: But I'm saying now everyone else is saying now, because your's saying that an institution has chains that you can bring that down to people?
Joy-Ann Reid: Well, I'm sorry, the problem is, number one the assumption that only the black people in the room were being singled out in a room where they were not the majority,
Host: That's a wrong assumption.
Joy-Ann Reid: ...but that is an assumption that I think the Mitt Romney campaign is making. And secondly, they're not the appropriate messengers. This is the guy that went to the NAACP and felt that it was appropriate to try to pointedly use the word Obamacare and then went to a fund raiser and said, "well if they want free stuff they should vote for Obama." Who's running an ad that brings back the old welfare meme, welfare queens meme, this is not the right messenger at all.
Host: Compare and contrast. It's important, it's good. You're absolutely right we need to put everything in context.
Joy-Ann Reid: Exactly, and the context definitely matters.
Host: Back to my initial point. Neither Republicans or Democrats who use this kind of language when they're talking about people, I think should be pointed out as being something that we should not be including in the national dialog. There's a lot of things to criticize one side to the other.
Joy-Ann Reid: Right.
Host: But to use that term, just I find it interesting and I think that, uh, Democrats have, you know, lost the focus for the last couple of hours on the criticism that they...
Joy-Ann Reid: Right and I think that the speech that he was talking about, Wall Street, right?
Joy-Ann Reid: They were talking specifically about reforms that would remove the capital gains tax meaning somebody like Mitt Romney would pay no tax...
Host: I'm with ya, I'm with ya, I'm with ya.
Joy-Ann Reid: So, yeah, we gotta keep the focus there.
Host: Issues. Issues.
Joy-Ann Reid: But at the same time, again, if you're saying you want to unshackle Wall Street and someone makes a pun on that don't be surprised, and we put this to our audience at the Grio and on our Facebook page...
Host: What'd they say?
Joy-Ann Reid: ... and people almost to a person said, You know what, wrong messenger first of all for the Republicans, we get what Joe Biden was gonna say, and don't assume that because there were any black people in the room that he was talking about us. So, a lot of people were offended at the context that the media put on it assuming he meant us.