MSNBC's David Shuster on Monday attacked Republicans as racist for calling embattled Congressman Charlie Rangel a "crooked, Harlem Democrat." Talking to ex-Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, the host complained about a press release by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC): "They could have called him the crooked New York Democrat. They could have called him a crooked Democrat." [Audio available here.]
Shuster continued, "Why crooked Harlem Democrat? And did you see that as being racially tinged?" Clearly, the provocative part of the NRCC's press release was labeling Rangel corrupt. How is it inaccurate to refer to the Representative as a "Harlem Democrat?" Harlem is in his district.
Shuster has made this type of insinuation before. On September 10, 2009, he railed against the look of the GOP: "You look at the image of the Republican Party, all white males with short haircuts. They look sort of angry. No women, no minorities, and it looks like they’ve sort of become unhinged."
A transcript of the question, which occurred at 10:27am EST on MSNBC News Live, follows;
DAVID SHUSTER: I want to ask you about some of the criticism of Governor Paterson, particularly the National Republican Campaign Committee. They issued a very provocative press release over the weekend. They attacked Charlie Rangel. And we mentioned Charlie Rangel and David Paterson and the problems in New York. But, they mention Charlie Rangel as "the crooked Harlem Democrat." They could have called him the crooked, New York Democrat. They could have called him a crooked Democrat. Why crooked Harlem Democrat? And did you see that as being racially tinged?
DOUG WILDER (former governor of Virginia): Well, this isn't the first time that these people have reached beyond and over the top. Look at the ad that was being run by the Finance Committee, so-called Finance Committee in the Republican National Committee, depicting the President in the most unflattering capacity that they did showing his picture in grease paint, et cetera. You're absolutely right. Were they trying to send that message? Was it racially tinged or not is not the issue. The issue is, could it be interpreted that way? And if it could be interpreted that way, don't do it. You can say any number of things about what he's done without having to it even have the inference of race at all.
SHUSTER: Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, thank you for joining us today. Nice to see you.