Matthews: Rush Limbaugh 'Stirring the Pot on Race' in Haiti Disaster

Earlier this week Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show, predicted he would be accused of racism, for merely referencing Harry Reid's "light-skinned" remark about Barack Obama and sure enough it happened as Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, did precisely that. After playing an out-of-context clip of Limbaugh claiming Barack Obama would gain "credibility with the black community...both light-skinned and dark-skinned" with his handling of the earthquake in Haiti, Matthews questioned his guest Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, "What do you make of that kind of commentary, stirring the pot on race in this country?" [audio available here]

What Matthews failed to tell his viewers was that Limbaugh and his African-American staffer James Golden AKA Bo Snerdley joked that Obama -- by letting Reid off the hook for his comment about "light-skinned" blacks -- had disrespected "dark-skinned" blacks.

The following exchange was aired on the January 13 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at a commentary that wasn't exactly favorable to the situation. This is Rush Limbaugh on the radio today talking about the Haitian earthquake.

(Begin clip)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: This will play right into Obama's hands. Humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to, to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in, in this country. It's made-to-order for him. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.

(End clip)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that? I mean I've compared him, he talks like he's a walrus under water, but yet the words are worst than the sound. What do you make of that kind of commentary, stirring the pot on race in this country, on complexion within the black community? The whole thing? Using this tragedy to do that.

REP. BARBARA LEE: Chris I'm not gonna even respond to that, that is outrageous. I think the country, the American people understand what is taking place. We are providing information for people, people are responding. As you mentioned earlier there are phenomenal organizations that are trying to contribute humanitarian assistance. USAID.gov, people can go to that Web site and donate money. We have to respond and this country is responding. And for those who are trying to make this into an issue that doesn't make any sense, quite frankly to me.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.