Martin Bashir: Stop Newt Gingrich's Food Stamp Talk Before Someone Gets Killed

MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Friday offered an offensive, bewildering comparison, linking the murder of a black British teenager in 1993 to supposedly offensive comments by Republican presidential candidates in 2012. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

After referencing the killing of Stephen Lawrence and a U.K. inquiry finding institutional racism in the British police force, Bashir played clips of Republicans, including Newt Gingrich saying this: " President Obama is the most effective food stamp president in American history." Shamelessly using the murder of a teenager to score political points, Bashir excoriated, "Let's cut out the food stamps rhetoric right now before things get any worse."

Bashir stretched the analogy beyond all logic. He sneered, "[The murder] also showed how political leaders could be responsible for either encouraging better race relations or making matters a whole lot worse by using cheap and nasty slurs."

The MSNBC anchor continued in his quest to link events that clearly have nothing to do with each other, adding, "But while sticks and stones may break your bones, the public inquiry into the life and death of Stephen Lawrence shows that words can and do cause irreparable damage to a culture and a society."

[Thanks to the MRC's Ken Shepherd for the video.]

A transcript of the January 6 segment, which aired at 3:57pm EST, follows:


MARTIN BASHIR: It's time now to clear the air. And I wonder if you'll indulge me just for a moment, because I want to focus our attention on the issue of race as it effects the 2012 campaign by starting overseas. In London's central criminal court, two men were found guilty on Tuesday for the notorious killing of a black teenager called Stephen Lawrence. Stephen was actually murdered in 1993 at the age of just 18, but it has taken almost exactly the same amount of time to prosecute his killers. Now, there were a number of early police investigations, but they were sloppy, badly handled, and unprofessional. As a result, the British government in 1999, ordered a public inquiry into why, despite all of the evidence the police had, they failed to secure a single prosecution. The inquiry produced a damning report, accusing the police and other agencies of being institutionally racist. It also showed how political leaders could be responsible for either encouraging better race relations or making matters a whole lot worse by using cheap and nasty slurs. Now, listen to some of the things that are being said by these Republican candidates.

NEWT GINGRICH: President Obama is the most effective food stamp president in American history.

RICK SANTORUM: I don't want to make [blah? black?] people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money, I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

BASHIR: There's nothing subtle about Newt Gingrich or Mr. Santorum. Their comments are clearly targeted at the President, who's black, and at other members of society, who haven't made millions of dollars from lobbying. But while sticks and stones may break your bones, the public inquiry into the life and death of Stephen Lawrence shows that words can and do cause irreparable damage to a culture and a society. Newt Gingrich is never going to win the Republican nomination, but he could badly damage race relations in the process. So here is a simple plea: Let's cut out the food stamps rhetoric right now before things get any worse.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org