On Thursday's Morning Joe, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell appeared and seemed to agree with Britain's Prime Minister that a voter he met was a bigot. Discussing Gordon Brown's April 28 comments, which were caught on a live mic, Mitchell defended, "And what he said is not actually that offensive...I mean, it was an honest opinion." [Audio available here.]
Even the fellow panel members on the mostly liberal MSNBC seemed shocked. Guest Sam Stein of the left-wing Huffington Post recoiled, "Really? To call her bigoted?"
Mitchell repeated her charge: "Well, she was decrying immigration and in a lot of people's views, that is a bigoted stand." Fill-in host Savannah Guthrie didn't seem to agree, asserting that this wasn't something you do "when you're trying to reach out to the working class."
The British newspaper The Sun recounted the back and forth between Brown and "lifelong Labour supporter" Gillian Duffy:
Mr Brown's unguarded comments were made after the pensioner quizzed him about immigration claiming it was a taboo subject.
During their exchange in the street, Mrs Duffy told the Prime Minister: "You can't say anything about immigrants."
She added: "All these eastern Europeans - where are they coming from?"
Mr Brown said a million people had come from Europe but another million Britons had moved the other way.
Mrs Duffy also complained about people on benefits.
She said: "There are too many who aren't vulnerable and they can claim, and people who are vulnerable can't get claims - can't get it."
Mr Brown said: "But they shouldn't be doing that. There is no life on the dole for people any more."
As he went to leave, the Prime Minister shook her hand and told her: "Very nice to meet you, very nice to meet you."
A transcript of the April 29 segment, which aired at 7:02am EDT, follows:
WILLIE GEIST; How bad is this for Gordon Brown?
ANDREA MITCHELL: This is not good. You know, I've known the Prime Minister a long time. He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had waited for all of those years to have his own chance. This is his first election because Tony Blair stepped aside and, of course, he had not had a chance to be elected. This is not good. The British press makes us look like pussycats. They're all over this. And what he said is not actually that offensive. It was probably- I mean, it was an honest opinion.
SAM STEIN (Huffington Post): [Shocked] Really? To call her bigoted?
MITCHELL: Well, to call the woman bigoted- Well, she was decrying immigration and in a lot of people's views, that is a bigoted stand. But, you just don't go and insult a pensioner, as they call them.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Especially when you're trying to reach out to the working class.