Yet again, MSNBC had to issue an on-air apology, after one of its left-wing guests on Wednesday made an outrageous statement. On Now With Alex Wagner, Ebony.com's senior editor Jamilah Lemieux responded to Senator Ted Cruz's statement about listening to country music after 9/11 by snarking, "Nothing says, let's go kill some Muslims like country music....I mean, really? That's absurd." [video below]
Fill-in anchor Ari Melber apparently recognized the offensive nature of Lemieux's remark, as he responded by pointing out that "there's plenty of country music that doesn't have that message." Minutes later, Melber read a statement about the editor's comment: "A guest made a comment about country music. That comment was not appropriate, and we want to be clear: this network does not condone it."
Lemieux appeared on a panel discussion segment with MSNBC regular Joan Walsh and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Melber turned to the Ebony.com writer first. After dropping his retort at his guest for her remark, the anchor prompted Walsh for her take on Senator Cruz's musical claim. Predictably, the editor-in-chief of the far-left Salon.com attacked the Texas politician as well – though she avoided descending to the level of Lemieux:
ARI MELBER: I guess part of the question, Joan, is whether his musical taste should be determined by foreign policy events – terrorism – however terrible. I mean, here in New York, a lot of people looked at 9/11 – saw it as a terrible, murderous event. We had a serious response to it. It's hard to follow – and I'm trying to understand what he's saying – it's hard to follow how you would then say, well, I'm going to give up on a genre.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON: What an idiot! Can you say pander? I mean, come on! Did he – has he heard of Bruce Springsteen? Has he heard of 'The Rising'? Has he heard of The Concert For Heroes that a whole bunch of rock stars – and probably, some country folk, too – did for the firefighters and first responders in New York?
He doesn't do his homework, because he's not talking to people like us – so it's fine. And he knows who he's pandering to. But I can't believe it is going to work with even country fans – God bless them.
Despite laughing at the Ebony.com editor's snark earlier in the segment (along with Walsh), Steele actually defended the 2016 Republican presidential candidate:
MELBER: Michael Steele, what do you make of Joan's point? This was a time for a lot of cultural unity. He's finding a way to dial back and say – actually, no. Some parts of the music industry responded the wrong way – although, he's not naming names.
MICHAEL STEELE: Well, I don't think he – I don't – A, I don't think that's what he was saying – that they responded the wrong way. B, I think Joan-
LEMIEUX: He said that!
WALSH: He actually said what he said, Michael – love you – love you, Michael. (Lemieux laughs)
STEELE: B, I think you're absolutely right, Joan. He's not talking to you. (Melber laughs)
WALSH: That's fine-
STEELE: And C – and C, I think what he was trying to say – however awkward it came out – was that country music, sort of, captured that moment for him. It sort of expressed what he felt. It sort of expressed his idea of America at this time of terrorism. And that – and that resonated with him. I don't make much more of it than that, and I don't take a lot of high-brow significance from it – or low-brow significance.
MELBER: Oof. Are you calling people high-brow, Michael? That hurts-
STEELE: Well, those – well, those who want to over-think this proposition just a little bit – yeah.
MELBER: I think the real question politically also is, did it strike you, Michael, as an authentic moment, or, sort of, a politically-planned appeal here?
STEELE: No. I think – I think it is authentic. I think it gives you a glimpse of who this man is, and how he's going to approach this election. I mean, he's going to speak – yes, to a very specific segment of our political spectrum. And he hopes that, in doing so, that resonates – that there's some connection that's made elsewhere. But yeah, I think he's going to drive a very strong, conservative message over the next 18 months, and it'll be interesting to see whether that is something that gets picked up in the party; that elevates him to the nomination; or something that gets left by the wayside.
It should be pointed out that Lemieux's employer, Ebony magazine, had to issue an apology in March 2014, after she insulted Republican National Committee deputy press secretary Raffi Williams (who is the son of Fox News's Juan Williams) as a "white dude" in a Twitter post. One wonders if MSNBC will ban the editor from its airwaves, as it did with Arsalan Iftikhar, after his bigoted attack on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in January 2015.
[H/t: Washington Post's Erik Wemple]