Howard Fineman: Liberal Response to Trayvon Has Been 'Measured,' Unlike 'Accusatory' Right

Former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Monday huffed that the reaction from liberals to the acquittal of George Zimmerman has been "measured" and "grieving." However, conservatives have been "accusatory." Apparently, Fineman doesn't watch MSNBC, the network he frequently appears on. His colleague, Toure, condemned America today as the same country that 1955 murder victim Emmett Till lived in.

Fineman appeared on Hardball with host Chris Matthews and derided Ann Coulter's reaction: "She's on it for the show." Regarding Newt Gingrich's insistence that some protesters are nothing more than a "lynch mob," Fineman mocked, "Newt can sometimes be a human sneer." Speaking of Coulter, Gingrich and Republican Congressman Steve King, Matthews lectured that the reaction "was loudest among the people who frequently try to stoke the fire and polarize any issue that comes to the fore." [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]

Fineman concluded, "I actually think that the comments that you showed on the left side of the spectrum, so to speak, were more measured and more...sad and wondering than the accusatory tone on the right."

Yet, MSNBC anchor Toure reacted this way on Monday: "We still live in the same America that Emmett Till lived in, an America where blacks are often judged to be a threat to order and citizens are able to destroy their bodies."

Radio and Current TV host Bill Press assailed the acquittal: "It can't stop here! It just can't stop here!"

Measured? Grieving?

A partial transcript of the July 15 segment is below:


5:33PM ET

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, reaction on the explosive right, I have got to call them, to the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was loudest among the people who frequently try to stoke the fire and polarize any issue that comes to the fore. These agents provocateur are often exploiting an issue for their own gain. And here they had again. And here`s a sampling, starting with Iowa Congressman Steve King, who said George Zimmerman should never have been prosecuted in the first place. And then he took a jab at the President, of course.

REP. STEVE KING: The evidence didn`t support prosecution, and the Justice Department engaged in this. The President engaged in this and turned it into a political issue. This should have been handled exclusively with law and order.

NEWT GINGRICH: I watched these protesters, none of whom read the transcript, none of whom sat through five weeks through the trial, all of whom are prepared, basically, to be a lynch mob. They only wanted one verdict, and the verdict was guilty.

MATTHEWS: Well, the fact is, I will bet most of the protesters watched every hour of the trial.

Anyway, and the night the verdict was announced, conservative -- I guess you would call her that -- Ann Coulter tweeted one word: "Hallelujah." Well, the reaction from political left was more muted, but still questioned the verdict, of course. Today on MSNBC, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings was among those giving voice to some of the public dismay.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: And it`s very, very, very hard for the public to understand how somebody with some Skittles and candy against somebody with a gun and it ends up that the -- that Zimmerman -- Zimmerman -- Zimmerman walks away with not even a misdemeanor charge against him, found guilty of a charge against him, and then young Trayvon is dead. That is hard for people to understand.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH: A person who the police -- who officials had asked not to follow him took a gun and killed him. And now that person will get his gun back. He will -- George Zimmerman will get his -- that gun back. He will be out. And I think the notion that the jury is saying to him that if he did the same thing again today or tomorrow or next week or someone else did it that there would be no punishment is not a great signal to send.

SEN. HARRY REID: I think the Justice Department`s going to take a look at this. They`re -- this is not over with. And I think that`s good. That is our system. It`s gotten better, not worse.

BILL RICHARDSON: I worry about all those young black kids out there that see a system of justice that maybe doesn`t respond to them. I think a national dialogue is needed.

MATTHEWS: Well, as my colleague Joe Scarborough of MSNBC writes in Politico: "The Zimmerman verdict showed just how politicized every speck of American life has become for a hyper-partisan political class." Well, joining me, the Huffington Post now, Howard Fineman is joining me, and "Mother Jones" magazine, David Corn. Both are MSNBC political analysts.

Gentlemen, this, well, predictable outrage, I must call it, from the right, but I have to tell you, when I watch Newt in action, Howard, I have learned to believe he`s just pulled the pin on the grenade at every operation -- every opportunity. And here he is again trying to excite I think a group of Americans who are unhappy perhaps at the whole tragedy itself, who aren`t saying hallelujah. I don`t care how conservative you are. I think most Americans say what a terrible thing that`s happened in race relations in this country. We so much wish it never happened. We don`t -- they don`t think anything -- we don`t think there`s any heroes in this case.

HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, Newt can sometimes be a human sneer.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: In the case of Ann Coulter, she`s a -- she's a -- you know, on it for show. Steve King is the wild man from western Iowa. Newt Gingrich used to be speaker of the House. And he should know better.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: And to focus on the accusation of ignorance on the part of people who are demonstrating is to more than miss the point, Chris, more than miss the point. And I -- look, I actually think that the comments that you showed on the left side of the spectrum, so to speak, were more measured and more -- and more grieving, if you will --

MATTHEWS: I agree.

FINEMAN: -- more sad and wondering than the accusatory tone on the right.

And there's nothing to be -- there's no need for accusations here. There's need for some thinking, reflection and trying to make the society better. That should be everybody's dominant view at this point, it seems to me.

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