Chris Matthews Plots Strategy With Dems on How to Use Ferguson Unrest for Midterms

It's not surprising that MSNBC's Chris Matthews would frame the racial unrest in Ferguson through a political lens. The liberal host on Monday brought on two prominent Democrats to plot strategy on how the fallout from the Michael Brown shooting could be appropriated. After pointing out that the teen's death "might have political implications this coming November," he wondered, "...Could anger over the Brown case motivate more African-American voters to turn up this November?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

To discuss this, Matthews, a former Democratic operative, brought on Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings and Democratic pollster Margie Omero. It wasn't hard to figure who he hoping the shooting could benefit. Highlighting past examples, the MSNBC anchor asserted, "So, if a member of Congress from a minority community wants to get people outraged -- they are outraged -- get them voting, it seems to me this would be a weapon to do that with." 

Democratic strategist Omero responded and explained how Ferguson could be used to assist Democrats. 

MARGIE OMERO: I think though there is a common myth that lower turnout among minorities or younger voters or women is what boosts or lifts up Democratic prospects. That's not actually true. In 2006, the percentage of the electorate that was African-American was basically identical to the percent in 2010. Yet you had different -- completely different results in those midterm elections. So, I think it is incumbent upon Democrats and among voters to really -- to turn out across the board. And Democrats need to reach out to voters across the board.

Matthews has a long history with race and using every opportunity to smear conservatives and Republicans as bigots. To see a list of his top 20 worst examples, go here

A partial transcript of the August 25 segment is below: 


CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well, the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and its aftermath over the last 16 days has highlighted how race relations can be strained to their breaking point. But while the streets of Ferguson may have quieted, anger over Brown's death linger among a community that believes itself the victim of injustice. And that might have political implications this coming November. That is just ten weeks from now. According to a Pew Research poll last week, public reaction to the Brown case varies widely by party I.D. Sixty eight percent of Democrats believe the case raises important issues about race, compared to just 22 percent of Republicans who say that. Well, considering that big disparity, could anger over the Brown case motivate more African-American voters to turn up this November?

Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings and Democratic pollster Margie Omero. Congressman Cummings, I got to this topic this morning when I got up because I remembered that the greatest registrar of African-American voters in Philadelphia history, where I grew up, was the existence of Frank Rizzo, the tough police commissioner up there--

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- who was seen as too darn tough on black people. You remember, he had the nightstick in his cummerbund and all that?

CUMMINGS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: And he had the big military hardware he brought in, the tanks and everything.

CUMMINGS: Oh, I'm very familiar.

MATTHEWS: Remember all that?

CUMMINGS: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: And that got people to register in a higher percentage than white people. So, I'm open to the idea that this fall, with all the horror that has gone on with the -- and recognized today and marked today by the sad funeral, that there might be a side effect.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Your thoughts.

CUMMINGS: Yes. First of all, let me express my sympathy to the Brown family and the Ferguson community. But I think you're absolutely right, Chris. People -- first of all, Ferguson, Missouri -- we have Fergusons, by the way, all over the country. And there are a lot of pent-up frustrations on the part of African-American people and Hispanics with regard to the kind of incident that we just saw happen in Ferguson.

And what happens is, I think these kind of incidents become more or less a wakeup call. I have often said that, in time, a moment will happen that can be -- could then be turned into a movement. And I think you're going to see a surge in not only voter registration, but voter participation, because people realize that it's one thing to be upset and to be angry and frustrated.

It's another thing to harness that energy and make change happen. And so I believe that that's what's going to happen here.

MATTHEWS: You know, Margie, we have gone over this map so many times, you and other experts. You have seen how the minority community, which can be so strong in big cities, has a tremendous impact statewide in these elections, because although you can only elect your own congressman, you can have a tremendous impact on Senate races, on gubernatorial races, on the Electoral College for president. So, if a member of Congress from a minority community wants to get people outraged -- they are outraged -- get them voting, it seems to me this would be a weapon to do that with.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, sure. There are states in -- whether it's Georgia, the Georgia Senate race, or Louisiana, or Arkansas, or North Carolina, where a boost in minority turnout could impact the election. It's not always -- I think though there is a common myth that lower turnout among minorities or younger voters or women is what boosts or lifts up Democratic prospects. That's not actually true. In 2006, the percentage of the electorate that was African-American was basically identical to the percent in 2010. Yet you had different -- completely different results in those midterm elections. So, I think it is incumbent upon Democrats and among voters to really -- to turn out across the board. And Democrats need to reach out to voters across the board.

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