Chris Matthews: Slavery Impacts People's View of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Case

Maybe it's time for MSNBC's Chris Matthews to retire.

On Friday's Hardball, the 66-year-old host actually said that people's view of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case is impacted by "so much history ever since the first slave arrived in the United States" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):


In the middle of a lengthy opening segment about the case gripping the nation, Matthews played a clip of Florida prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda telling a press conference, “You haven’t heard all the evidence. Please be patient and wait for the trial.”

After the clip, Matthews said, “Well, this is so tricky here, Joy-Ann, and I don’t know how we’re going to cover this. I’m going to try to do it with the presumption of innocence as we do in all cases.”

Isn’t that nice of Matthews to "try" to cover this case “with the presumption of innocence?” You'd think that after decades in the business, it wouldn't be too difficult to presume the innocence of the accused when reporting on a murder trial.

For her part, Joy-Ann Reid of The Grio responded, “The bottom line here is that this case has already been litigated and relitigated on Twitter, online, on blogs. Everyone feels that they too are prosecuting this case and people have taken a side. And I think that raises a lot of troubling questions really about jury selection. Is the entire jury pool in the country tainted and can Zimmerman get a fair trial?”

Actually, the taint is on the Left not the Right.

It’s the folks on the left that have already convicted Zimmerman and are just awaiting sentencing. That’s how atrocious the reporting has been by much of the liberal media.

By contrast, the Right’s position is and has been that Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty and that none of us has seen all the evidence to render a judgment. That will come out in the trial.

With this in mind, I think Reid was projecting the short-comings and failings of her side in this debate onto those that have acted far more responsibly.

But fasten your seatbelts, for Matthews’ response was startling.

“What scares me if we could all watch the picture, like a movie, a tape of everything that happened that night, from the beginning to the end, I think there would be difference of attitudes about guilt and innocence. That’s what scares me about this case, there’s so many different perspectives, so much history ever since the first slave arrived in the United States. The attitude of history here, you can’t push it aside I don’t think.”

What? So whenever a crime is committed against a black person by someone other than a black person, the “history ever since the first slave arrived in the United States” is a factor?

Shouldn't the only factor be the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense with total disregard to the color of these folks' skin or something that was outlawed centuries ago in this country?

It's been almost 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and almost 50 years since the last Civil Rights Act, and slavery is still a part of our criminal justice system?

How sad that in the year 2012, a so-called newscaster on a so-called news network thinks this.

It seems a metaphysical certitude racism will never end in this country as long as people like Matthews bring slavery into every mixed race incident.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.