MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe' Panel: Drudge Headline Racially-Tinged

For over seven minutes this morning, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel expounded on the racial overtones of Matt Drudge’s Tuesday morning headline and other criticisms of the Obama administration.

It started when Time magazine’s senior political analyst Mark Halperin brought up the Drudge Report headline, “Obama Goes Street: Seeking ‘Ass to Kick’,” and alleged that it spun Obama’s comments to NBC’s Matt Lauer and portrayed Obama unfairly as a gangster.

“One of the problems Barack Obama faces in public life... is  he cannot get angry and be an effective communicator as an African-American,” Halperin commented on the interview.

 “So Matt Drudge takes the Matt Lauer quote, and he casts it as ‘Obama Goes Street.’ And it includes this photo of an angry-looking Barack Obama,” Halperin complained. “ I think it’s all pretty clear. It’s pretty clear to all of us what’s going on there.”

“There’s no doubt” that “race plays a factor here,” Scarborough agreed.

The “Morning Joe” host then added a little race-baiting of his own.“For Ivy league WASPs watching at home,” he addressed panel member Dee Dee Myers of Vanity Fair, “what does ‘going street’ mean, by the way?”

The transcript of the segment is as follows:
MSNBC
“Morning Joe”
June 8, 2010
7:39 - 7:42 a.m. EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Mark Halperin, you’ve got a headline that’s of interest, that you’re looking at right now.

MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a–I won’t even call it a dirty little secret, because it’s neither dirty, nor a secret. But one of the problems Barack Obama faces in public life, we saw it during the campaign when he got angry on a few occasions, like in South Carolina–is, he cannot get angry and be an effective communicator as an African-American.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: What’s the headline there? What’s the headline?

MARK HALPERIN: So Matt Drudge takes the Matt Lauer quote, and he casts it as “Obama Goes Street.” And it includes this photo of an angry-looking Barack Obama. I think it’s all pretty clear–it’s pretty clear to all of us what’s going on there.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: And the–Dee Dee Myers–Barack Obama, paraphrasing Matt Lauer, says he’s going to find–get all the information before he “kicks ass,” and it’s almost like he was poking fun at Matt for asking the question the way he did. He’s wasn’t making fun of Matt, but just about “kicking butt,” basically saying “that’s not who I am.”

But, how fascinating here, race–there’s no doubt–race plays a factor here. The White House afraid, as Mark said, if he’s angry, then suddenly there are racial overtones. And even when he’s not angry, you have the Drudge Report talking about “street.”

DEE DEE MYERS, VANITY FAIR EDITOR: He tip-toes to the line of being angry, and this is how it gets portrayed–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What does “going street” mean, by the way? For Ivy league WASPs watching at home

DEE DEE MYERS: Well, you know, I think when you say somebody’s “street,” I think, for a lot of people who don’t really know what that means, it has racial implications. It has to do with this sort of African-American street culture, and I don’t think it’s  meant as a positive.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So you’re not talking about people at Northeast Harbor then, right? You don’t go “straight” Northeast Harbor?         

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Look, I don’t want to “Drudge-up” conversations that we had during the campaign, because we’re so beyond it, but I do think–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don’t think we’re beyond it–

DEE DEE MYERS: We’re not beyond it–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don’t think we’re beyond it–

DEE DEE MYERS: We’re not at all beyond it–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: There’s no doubt about it. And it shows, actually, a blind spot as far as I’m concerned, on my part, that this didn’t even come into my mind. Because, for some reason, I thought we were beyond it, but we’re not beyond it. And obviously–so you think they’re having these calculations inside the White House, you can’t show anger because they’re going to–

(Crosstalk)

DEE DEE MYERS: There’s no question that Barack Obama–his political persona has evolved in conjunction with his circumstances, which is that he happens to be an African-American man. And so he’s been successful in his life by–one of the reasons is because he’s been a very measured person. He hasn’t been prone to fits of anger or whatever, you know, things that feed into racial stereotypes. And so not only does that work for an African-American on a high level. It’s who he is and who he has become, as a politician–

JOE SCARBOROUGH: And the thing is, we always heard stories about how Bill Clinton–you know, very likeable and very amiable–but also could get what was described as “purple rage.” But you know what, though? When you’d hear those stories about Clinton, everybody goes, “heh, it’s Clinton, that’s Clinton.” Whereas, if it’s Barack Obama doing it, suddenly people are going to twist that and make it look sinister.
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014