MSNBC.com on Monday accused economist Dr. Walter Williams of making racist statements during his interview with Fox News's John Stossel last week.
The charge was associated with an "Ed Show" segment in which the host disgracefully cherry-picked one of Williams' comments about welfare and slavery (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: And in Psycho Talk tonight, Rush Limbaugh’s favorite fill-in host Walter Williams. We welcome him to the zone tonight. He’s the perfect substitute for Limbaugh because last year he went on the radio and said he believes in keeping wives under control. But sexism isn’t all that he’s good at. Here’s what happened when Fox’s John Stossel put Walter on the TV this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN STOSSEL: Government is like a giant drug pusher?
WALTER WILLIAMS, ECONOMIST: That's absolutely right. The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Walter Williams should know better than to compare slavery and welfare. Slavery is perhaps the biggest stain on American history. It turned human beings into property. It doesn’t get much worse than that, does it? Meanwhile, welfare programs help American families survive when they’re destitute. Welfare helps folks meet their basic needs while they lift themselves up and get back on their feet. So for Walter Williams to say welfare has hurt black families more than slavery, pretty cruel psycho talk, don’t you think?
Actually, Williams didn't say "welfare has hurt black families more than slavery." He said, "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done."
Why don't we see what Williams meant by this by looking at his complete answer (video courtesy Daily Caller):
STOSSEL: Government is like a giant drug pusher?
WILLIAMS: That's absolutely right. The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family. That is, today, just slightly over 30 percent of black kids live in two parent families.
Historically, from 1870s on up to about 1940s, and depending on the city, 75 to 90 percent of black kids lived in two parent families. Illegitimacy rate is 70 percent among blacks where that is unprecedented in our history.
Now, it's not just a matter of a racial thing, in Sweden is the mother of the welfare state and illegitimacy in Sweden is 54 percent.
STOSSEL: And why does a welfare state create illegitimacy?
WILLIAMS: Well, because, look, if you subsidize anything, you're going to get surpluses of it, and if you tax something you're going to get less of it. If you did not get welfare, then people would decide, I'm going to go out and get a job, I'm going to live more responsibly.
STOSSEL: I'm going to get married before I have children.
WILLIAMS: That's absolutely right.
STOSSEL: But the welfare state actually discouraged some men from marrying the woman, she would lose the check.
WILLIAMS: That's right, the government has said to many young women, I am the father. And so the father, black males, have become dispensable.
STOSSEL: Black illegitimacy was 19 percent in 1940, but it skyrocketed during the Great Society and now it's over 70 percent.
WILLIAMS: Yes, and that's a heck of a start in life, that is, to be born -- you don't know who or where your father is, that's not really great start in life.
Makes a little more sense with all of the actual data, doesn't it?
But the folks at MSNBC weren't done making fools of themselves, for at the website's video page for "The Ed Show," the following advertised the segment in question:
Not only did these geniuses wrongly accuse Williams of racism, they actually misspelled racist.
Sadly, this wasn't the only such baseless accusation at MSNBC Monday, for earlier in the day, Al Sharpton filling in for Cenk Uygur on "MSNBC Live" falsely pointed the finger of racism at just-named Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
It's really a fabulous news organization, isn't it?
Comcast, General Electric, and NBC must be so proud.