MSNBC's Bashir Selectively Edits 1981 Reagan Aide Remarks to Make Republicans Look Racist

NewsBusters reported Wednesday that MSNBC's Martin Bashir disgracefully accused Republicans of using the acronym "IRS" as the latest racist dog whistle in their "war against the black man in the White House."

It turns out that Bashir used a selectively edited quote of former Reagan aide Lee Atwater to make his pathetic case.

Mediaite's Noah Rothman pointed out Wednesday that Bashir took the supposedly offensive quote from a 1981 interview that Atwater did with Alexander Lamis, an associate professor at Case Western University.

Lamis later included the full text of this interview in his book "The Two-Party South."

Here's what Bashir cited Wednesday:

“You start out in 1954 by saying n*****, n*****, n*****. By 1968 you can’t say n*****. That hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like ‘forced busing,’ ‘states rights’ and all that stuff and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about cutting taxes. ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing and a-hell of a lot more abstract than n*****, n*****.”

In bold is what Bashir edited out:

"You start out in 1954 by saying n*****, n*****, n*****. By 1968 you can’t say n*****. That hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like 'forced busing,' 'states rights' and all that stuff and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than n*****, n*****. So any way you look at it, race is coming on the backburner." 

Big difference, isn't it?


As Rothman noted - and readers are encouraged to review his entire analysis of the 40 minute interview - Atwater was talking about how Reagan didn't need to use race to get elected in 1980.

"Reagan goes out and campaigns on economics and national defense. The whole campaign was devoid of any kind of racism. Any kind of reference," Atwater said.

Sadly, Bashir on Wednesday - in the middle of a totally nonsensical rant about "IRS" being a new racist dog whistle employed by Republicans to attack Obama because he's black! - opted to present a highly edited version of this section of a 32-year-old 40 minute interview.

Sadder still, selective editing has become commonplace at NBC and MSNBC.

And they wonder why their ratings continue to plummet.

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