05/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

MSNBC Admits Wright Soundbytes Misrepresents His Message, Then Do It Anyway

This morning on MSNBC, Mika Brzezinski of Morning Joe made one of the first good points the media has made in covering Chicago pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright: that Wright's comments, when put into soundbytes, "put out political implications" for Senator Barack Obama. That, "if you hear the whole speech, and not just the soundbytes, there is a legitimate message." I guess MSNBC felt like they was poised on the dangerous precipice of being thoughtful, or thorough, or maybe even responsible, though, because they then broke up Wright's speech in Detroit into the most controversial soundbytes they could, then stood back wondering where all the political implications came from.

The snippets of Wright's speech were relatively tame stuff: basically making fun of the dialectic quirks of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and pointing out that no one ever corrected their speech, as they do black children. It's highly reminiscent of a comedy routine, frankly. But when Jeff Foxworthy talks about the weird way people pronounce things, people give him millions and millions of dollars. If you're Wright - a black preacher who yells and who committed the crime of saying three or four controversial things in sixty-seven years, you need to be admonished by Chris Matthews and any presidential candidates you've talked to (the black ones anyway!) need to be branded as traitors.


BRZEZINSKI: All right, that is Barack Obama's former pastor speaking in Detroit last night. He's going to be speaking again in Washington in just about 22 minutes. Chris Matthews joins us on the phone. And Chris we have been getting a lot of emails as we have been playing the soundbytes from the Reverend Wright in Detroit last night saying that if you hear the whole speech and not just the soundbytes there is a legitimate message about the racial divide that exists in our country. Having said that, what are the political implications for Barack Obama, given the fact that this Reverend is coming out strong and speaking out throughout this entire weekend?

MATTHEWS: Well, the first question you have to ask is why doesn't he go away? I mean, no one has asked him to go and speak with the country. The only the person he is helping is probably Hillary Clinton and ultimately John McCain because he is dividing people. The fact that we are arguing about Ebonics again and differences in pronunciation of American English between different groups is just trouble. And it's not the unifying harmonious message of Barack Obama.

This is a fine example of just how idiotically insincere the political press can be. Matthews bemoans the fact that "we are arguing" about Wright "again," as if someone placed a gun to his temple and forced him to have a conversation about it. I know, Chris! How could this have happened? It is almost as if your producer edited down a speech into controversial parts, prepped a video of the same, introduced it on the air, specifically prompted viewers to pay attention to the controversial soundbytes, and then broadcast them! (And how can we be having an argument over "Ebonics" again? I don't remember the first time!)

Need I even note the irony of Chris Matthews here? Because when you break Matthews "into soundbytes," such as, "[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around," you might conclude that he is a misogynist dolt. Nobody asks Chris Matthews, "Why don't you go away?" Except that, ooops, they totally do.

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