MSNBC's Chris Jansing featured the liberal Jonathan Capehart on Wednesday to attack a newly released Sarah Palin video as "anti-Semitic." The Washington Post editorial page writer berated Palin for complaining about the media's attempts to link conservative speech to last week's shooting in Arizona.
In the video, the former Alaska governor rejected this as a "blood libel." Capehart smeared, "...That phrasing, that phrase is incredibly anti-Semitic. And no one is calling Sarah Palin an anti-Semite but for her to use that language a lot of people think she has dug a deep hole even deeper."
However, the National Review's Jim Geraghty pointed to an October 30, 2008 Ann Coulter column: Capehart's Washington Post colleague Eugene Robinson complained about "...The blood libel against black men concerning the defilement of the flower of Caucasian womanhood." Was Mr. Robinson using anti-Semitic language? Should he have been "more careful," as Capehart instructed Palin to be?
(See video below. MP3 audio here.)
Additionally, another MSNBC contributor, Mike Barnicle, used the phrase on October 31, 2006: "The problem for Kerry here is that two years ago, Joe, he did not talk like that when he was undergoing a blood libel by the Swift Boat people." Was he being vaguely anti-Semitic?
Wednesday's Politico asserted:
Palin’s use of the charged phrase "blood libel" — which refers to the anti-Semitic accusation from the Middle Ages that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzo for Passover — touched off an immediate backlash.
Capehart even asserted that Palin's 2012 presidential chances could now be imperiled. He speculated, " Did she provide words that aided in that healing or did she provide words that only served to inflame the conversation?"
A partial transcript of the January 12 segment, which aired at 11:32am EST, follows:
CHRIS JANSING: I want to bring in Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and Washington Post editorial writer. And I saw that you wrote about this. She says blood libel insights hatred. Strong language. What do you think about this video, Jonathan?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, overall, I think the video was a nearly eight-minute defense of her actions and of herself. In my piece, I write that she says, "Don't blame me, blame the shooter and then blame the media. All I was trying to do was exercising my right to dissent and any criticism of me doing that is stifling free speech." And, you know, times like this call for statesmen. Calls- It is a time that calls for people to come together and to try to, you know, move everyone along and what Sarah Palin has done is just continuing her defensive crouch. And one other thing, you know, Chris, she used the phrasing blood libel and, you know, all over Twitter, all over journalism circles and you go on the web and instantly people picked up on that because that phrasing, that phrase is incredibly anti-Semitic. And no one is calling Sarah Palin an anti-Semite but for her to use that language a lot of people think she has dug a deep hole even deeper. She should have been more careful.
JANSING: Let me just play another clip. Again, eight minutes of video, but here's another little part of it.
SARAH PALIN: Acts of monstrous criminalities stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state. Not with those who listen to talk radio. Not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle.
JANSING: You know, the argument is being made right now as we look ahead already to 2012 and possible candidates that they will be judged on the way they respond to the most obvious tonight here with President Obama, but do you think people like Sarah Palin and others that this will be remembered. This video will be looked at by voters?
CAPEHART: Yes, it will be. Whether she gets into the race or not for 2012, if she does, people will look at that and critique that for how did Sarah Palin respond during a national crisis, if you will? At a time when people were looking for healing and for solace. Did she provide words that aided in that healing or did she provide words that only served to inflame the conversation? I think Sarah Palin missed an incredible opportunity to go from being someone who hides behind Twitter and Facebook to reach people to being an actual statesperson who, you know, deserves to be talked about as someone who can possibly sit in the oval office. You know, that's what she wants people to think. But a performance like the one in that video today doesn't, it doesn't strike the right tone. They weren't the right words. She did not follow the advice from conservative commentator David Frum, which I thought was excellent. If she wanted someone to follow, you know, the speech that Speaker Boehner gave on the floor today, right tone, right words, a statesman.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.