MSNBC's Sharpton Sees Racial Tinge in Palin's 'Slavery,' But Not Biden's 'Chains'

On MSNBC's PoliticsNation show, host Al Sharpton criticized Sarah Palin for rhetorically comparing being in debt to another country to "slavery," as he and his panel suggested that it sounds "racist."

But last year, Sharpton was far more tolerant of Vice President Joe Biden telling black audience members that Mitt Romney would put them "back in chains" as he complained about Romney wanting to "unchain Wall Street."

Sharpton and syndicated columnist Cynthia Tucker also incorrectly claimed that the national debt has been reduced when it is merely the amount of borrowing per year that has started decreasing.

Sharpton griped as he began the show:

Our federal debt is like slavery? Slavery was horrific, vile, a vile practice that was explicitly based on race. So it's hard to avoid sounding racist when you make comparisons like that. This kind of talk has no place in our political debate. But Palin doesn't seem to care. She only cares about throwing red meat to the right wing.

But on the August 15, 2012, PoliticsNation, Sharpton found fault with Romney criticizing Biden's "chains" gaffe, as the MSNBC host ended the show suggesting he was annoyed at having to bring it up:

Finally tonight, I want to talk about a comment Vice President Biden made that's getting a lot of attention. Initially, I didn't want to bring it up, but the right wing won't let it go.

Sharpton did not suggest problems with racial insensitivity as he tepidly asserted that Biden "misspoke," as the MSNBC host then launched into Romney for his criticism of the Vice President:

Hate? Division? Anger? What? As I said, the Vice President could have used different or better language, but it was a mistake. But where is the hate in that comment? He wasn't talking about blacks, he was talking about Wall Street, regulation, middle class. The middle class was never in chains.

During Tuesday's segment, Sharpton and guest Tucker seemed confused about the difference between the national debt and the budget deficit as they incorrectly asserted that the national debt has started falling:

CYNTHIA TUCKER: Debt does not allow a slave to legally rape his property. Debt does not allow us, excuse me, a slave master. Debt does not allow a slave master to take away your children. On top of which, the federal debt is actually falling. So Sarah Palin is wrong on all counts.

AL SHARPTON: And the federal debt has been falling every year for the last five years.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the August 15, 2012, and the November 11, 2013, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

#From the August 15, 2012, PoliticsNation:

AL SHARPTON: Finally tonight, I want to talk about a comment Vice President Biden made that's getting a lot of attention. Initially, I didn't want to bring it up, but the right wing won't let it go. Take a listen.

VICE PRESIDENT: Romney wants to let the, he said in the first 100 days he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street. They're going to put y'all back in chains.

SHARPTON: Now, to say he misspoke is a good argument. But here's what the Romney team has been saying instead for the last two days.

MITT ROMNEY CLIP #1: This is what an angry and desperate presidency looks like. Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.

ROMNEY CLIP #2: The comments of the Vice President as I heard them, I thought were one more example of a divisive effort to keep from talking about the real issues.

SHARPTON: Hate? Division? Anger? What? As I said, the Vice President could have used different or better language, but it was a mistake. But where is the hate in that comment? He wasn't talking about blacks, he was talking about Wall Street, regulation, middle class. The middle class was never in chains. But while we're on it, let's talk about the hate in this campaign. Mr. Romney's surrogates have been out there saying things like this for months.

DONALD TRUMP: This one line called place of birth. I'd like to see what he said. Perhaps it's going to say Hawaii. Perhaps it's going to say Kenya.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: If they want to punch us, we're going to punch back with brass knuckles.

PRIEBUS: If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it's Barack Obama.

FORMER GOVERNOR JOHN SUNUNU (R-NH): I wish this president would learn how to be an American.

SHARPTON: What do we hear from the Romney team on these statements? Silence. But we also didn't hear anything from the President. Because he doesn't complain. He knows politics is a tough game.

ROMNEY: This is after all politics. There's no whining in politics.

SHARPTON: So Mr. Romney, when the Vice President talks about unchaining Wall Street and then makes another statement you make that hate. You really don't want to talk about hate in this campaign when we've heard the President referred to as a food stamp president. When you left the NAACP and went and told people that night, they have to know they're not going to get free stuff.

Don't bring up hate, Mr. Romney. Not unless you want to talk about hate throughout the campaign. Not unless you really want to ask for a real discussion on what's over the line. Be careful, Mr. Romney, what you ask for.

#From the November 11, 2013, PoliticsNation:

AL SHARPTON: Tonight's lead, Sarah Palin and the extreme takeover of the GOP. Just days after another Election Day rejection of the Tea Party candidates, look who's back. Sarah Palin, the queen of the Tea Party, was out in Iowa this weekend where she compared the federal debt to slavery, insisting the comparison isn't racist.

SARAH PALIN: Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that note comes due, and this isn't racist, so try it, try it anyway. But it's going to be like slavery when that note comes due, right? We're going to be beholden to a foreign master.

SHARPTON: Our federal debt is like slavery? Slavery was horrific, vile, a vile practice that was explicitly based on race. So it's hard to avoid sounding racist when you make comparisons like that. This kind of talk has no place in our political debate. But Palin doesn't seem to care. She only cares about throwing red meat to the right wing.

PALIN CLIP #1: The President now broadcasting his sham-wow style infomercials.

PALIN CLIP #2: The far left's stifling, strangling, shackling agenda.

PALIN CLIP #3: Leaders who would exempt themselves from the laws that they force on the rest of us, that's dictatorship.

SHARPTON: A dictatorship? This stuff might work with the rabid right wing audience, but not with the rest of America. In swing states, Palin's approval rating now stands at just 26 percent, 26 percent. But here's the thing. Republicans in Congress have been having their cues taken from her for years. ... Cynthia, let me go to you first. Why won't Republicans comparing the debt to slavery when we had GOP presidents with a federal debt?

CYNTHIA TUCKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You know, Reverend Al, the extreme right wing of the GOP has certain verbal ticks that they just can't seem to leave alone even though these ticks always get them in trouble. There are certain things they should know by now they just should not discuss. They should never discuss rape because if they do, they'll say something stupid. They should never discuss slavery because, if they do, they'll say something stupid.

As you said earlier, slavery was a horrific institution. Nothing else like it in the history of the country. Debt does not allow a slave to legally rape his property. Debt does not allow us, excuse me, a slave master. Debt does not allow a slave master to take away your children. On top of which, the federal debt is actually falling. So Sarah Palin is wrong on all counts.

SHARPTON: And the federal debt has been falling every year for the last five years. Joan, let me ask you. You know, Sarah Palin was on the Today show just this morning, and she explicitly rejected the idea that Republicans need to temper their extremism. Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If you look at the result of the election, isn't the message to the Tea Party that the middle ground, not the far right, is the most fertile ground for upcoming elections?

PALIN: You know, when you stand in the middle of the road, you're going to get hit on both sides of the road.

SHARPTON: You know, isn't, Joan, isn't Palin really driving the party of the Republican Party into a ditch with this kind of stuff?

WALSH: Hey, look, Reverend Al. Sarah Palin actually is the mainstream of the Republican Party. She really is. We don't want to think that. We want to give them more credit. And, you know, we bend over backwards pointing to people like Chris Christie who is severely conservative, but isn't quite as nasty about it. But she's playing a game here that's become increasingly popular, you know.

First of all, to my white brothers and sisters, when you're tempted to preface something by saying, "This isn't racist," maybe, you should check yourself and think about it because it probably is. And second of all, she put on a clinic in white privilege because really, white privilege is many things. But one of those things is letting yourself stay ignorant enough to use slavery as a metaphor for something you don't like about government.

As Cynthia said, the debt doesn't let someone rape their slave. The debt doesn't come and take her child Piper out of her arms. So, you know, this is, the white grievance industry where she is also, she does a really fun thing in there, you know, where she's, like, "Oh, go ahead and try," because being told that you shouldn't use slavery as a metaphor, that's discrimination. That's racist against white people. My God. What are you guys doing to us?

--Brad Wimouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brad Wilmouth on Twitter.