Speaking for ‘All White People,’ Chris Matthews Apologizes to Black Americans for ... Something

On Thursday, limousine liberal Chris Matthews took it upon himself to apologize on behalf of all white people for unspecified transgressions.

“I’ll just tell you one thing,” Matthews said. “And I’m speaking now for all white people, but especially [the ones] who’ve tried to change the last 50 or 60 years. And a lot of them really tried to change, and I’m sorry for this stuff. That’s all I’m saying.”

The MSNBC host made those remarks in the context of a discussion he was having between one of his bosses, Val Nicholas, vice president and creative director at NBC News, and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele about what Matthews and his guests said were a multitude of acts of alleged racial discrimination against black men. Given that context, it appears that is what Matthews was apologizing for but since he brought up the subject in talking about the George Zimmerman trial, one cannot be too sure.

At the end of the Hardball segment, a haughty Matthews thanked his two black guests “for both being colleagues of mine,” as if they had somehow done him a favor by gracing him with their presences.

In any case, we can’t help but agree with Allahpundit of Hot Air who wished “this should really be an hourly feature on MSNBC, tantamount to a regular news break at 30 minutes past.” One wonders what extreme lengths Matthews will go to apologize to what he clearly sees as the poor, utterly helpless black masses.

An article at Newsvine posted reaction from conservatives on Twitter, most of which were angry that Matthews would presume to speak for all white people.

The black-oriented website NewsOne presumed that all of the criticism on Twitter came from white people.

“MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews decided to speak for “all White people” and apologize for racism in the United States and was attacked by White people on Twitter for his efforts,” NewsOne said.

The article included embedded tweets from some critical of Matthews, but some profile pictures did not show actual faces, making it impossible to determine if the tweets actually came from white people.

Who gave Matthews the authority to speak for all white people, especially considering that so few whites--or people of any race--actually watch his low-rated MSNBC program?

Furthermore, shouldn’t a man who lives in one of the whitest cities in America try to avoid bringing up racial topics?

A transcript of the video excerpt shown above follows:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball." The George Zimmerman verdict and the tragedy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin has brought back memories for many African-American men who see themselves as Trayvon Martin. Their stories and their experiences are all too familiar and all too moving, especially to those of us who don’t know anything about it.

As vice president here at NBC News, Val Nicholas broke his silence today in an op-ed for MSNBC.com about what he calls, quote, "The long suppressed memories," close quote, that last week’s verdict ignited, and realizing that he could have been Trayvon Martin and didn’t even know it. He says, quote, "Twice as a teen, I ended up looking down the barrel of police guns for no other reason than I happened to be a black teenager. I had completely forgotten about those incidents, but the Zimmerman verdict opened that door again."

Well, Val Nicholas strongly believes that race plays a role in the decisions that people make every day. And he has his own experiences to prove it and to show it, both growing up and now as a successful professional African-American man.

As the Zimmerman verdict sparks a nationwide conversation on race, could something positive perhaps come from this verdict for all of us, regardless of race?

Well, joining me right now to discuss this is NBC News vice president Val Nicholas. Also with us is MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele. I’ve asked him to stay over and join in this conversation.

Val, you don’t usually do television, you make it possible by being one of the executives here at NBC News. Tell us, especially white people watching who don’t know the world as you know it, as fully as you know it, what happened to you as a teenager and then more subsequently.

VAL NICHOLAS, NBC News Vice President: Interesting. When I was younger -- and I was an A student. I was a student athlete. And I never lived in a hood. You know, I don’t even know what one is like. I’ve never been there. But twice I ended up looking down the barrels of guns, which was completely unexpected.

One time, I was waiting for a bus at a bus stop, waiting to go to my after- school job. And suddenly two CHP, California Highway Patrol, cars jumped over the middle island. And both of them screamed up on either side of me. Guys jumped out with guns, screaming for me to get my hands up and lay down on the ground.

And eventually, they threw me down to the ground, and they asked me if I was some person. And I said, No, I’m not. They asked me for ID, which, fortunately, I had a work ID that had a picture on it, otherwise, I probably would have gone to jail. And they realized I wasn’t the guy, so they decided, OK, and they jumped in their car and they took off. They never said, Hey, sorry about that. They never said, Hey, are you OK? Nothing. They just took off.

The second time, I was at a convenience store. And, unfortunately, at that time, I had just cashed my work check, so I had it in my jacket pocket, and suddenly somebody came up behind me and said, don’t move a muscle. And I thought, OK, and I glanced back, and I saw the barrel of a shotgun at the back of my head.

It turned out what it was, was the guy -- the clerk had accidentally stepped on the switch that calls the police when there’s a robbery, and so they had responded. And what I was thinking the whole time is, oh, my God, this is the only money I have. Maybe I should try to sneak it out and stick it into the snack thing.

And if I would have done that, I would have been dead instantly, because I turned around and it was a police officer. And what really got me at the time was, there were a lot of other customers in the store, but I was the only one with a gun on me.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Michael Steele.

What’s your reaction to hearing that story?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC analyst: You know, it is a story of a lot of young African-American males, whether they’re from the hood or from, you know -- or not. It doesn’t matter.

NICHOLAS: Exactly.

STEELE: What -- what Val, myself and so many other have in common is black skin and a lot of the perceptions that go along with that. As I tell my young boys -- my two sons are in their early 20s -- particularly when they got their driver’s license, Chris, is I said, look, if you ever get pulled over by a cop -- and you likely will -- this is what you do.

Role down all four down windows. Turn on the dome light. Put your hands on the steering wheel, and don’t move and just answer yes, sir, no, sir. That mind-set is something that is passed on. It has to be, because as Val just, I think very pointedly, said, if he had done what anybody else could have done, it likely would have led to his arrest or his being killed.

And so there is this dynamic at play here that’s now come to the surface as a result of the Trayvon Martin case that causes an introspection among a lot of African-American men, particularly those who are talking to their sons right now as they are about to go out in the world about what it means to be a black man in America.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about a practical thing, Val. And you and I talk once in a while about everything except this.

And I want to ask about speed limits. You drive the Jersey Turnpike, you drive the Garden State, any -- 95 -- you know, you see a black guy stopped, I always wonder, what is this about? It happens. I see it all the about. And I go, what is this about? Is that guy speeding? Is he two miles over the speed limit rather than five. Most of us drive about five miles over the speed limit. OK? That’s what we do.

We assume there’s a grace period there. Do you think cops grab people, African-Americans, when they’re within that five-male grace period that other people seem to operate by? I have been in traffic when everybody is going 80, right?

NICHOLAS: I will give you -- I will give you a story, Chris.

When I was a young producer at a local television station in California, I finally earned enough money to get a decent car, besides that piece of junk I had. So, I bought a nice BMW. And what I found was during the week, when I was dressed like this, not a problem. But on the weekend, when I was wearing a T-shirt and a ball cap, police cars would do what I called the five-block follow.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLAS: They would sidle up best hind me, and they would follow me for five blocks while they’re running my plates, and then they would veer off.

STEELE: Yes.

NICHOLAS: And, at first, I didn’t notice it, but I then started -- every weekend, it was happening. So...

MATTHEWS: So they were tailing you for a while, long enough to do a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... check.

NICHOLAS: To run my plates, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Do you have -- you’re laughing, Michael. I want to see if there is common history here. Have you had that experience?

STEELE: Oh, my gosh, yes.

I had -- I was in a suit. I mean, I didn’t have the running suit or the T- shirt. I was in a suit coming home cutting Rock Creek Park, and this park police kind of pulled up behind me. And it was at dusk. It was getting dark. And he followed me all the way out of the park, all the way out of the park.

And so -- and I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, OK, am I going too fast? Am I going too slow? What is it? I almost wanted to pull over, and just ask him, why are you following me? But I knew that would open a can of worms that I just didn’t need to open. So, I just kept the speed limit and drove out of the park. And when it got -- he left.

MATTHEWS: OK.

How do you moderate yourself or modulate yourself? This is fascinating, like, when you go to a store, and I have heard cases where people follow you if you’re African-American. They just -- they claim like they’re being attentive, but they’re being attentive in kind of a nasty way.

NICHOLAS: Exactly.

My father, not unlike Michael, when I was young, taught me -- he said, if you end up in a situation with the police or security or whatever, never argue. Just capitulate, because, he said, there’s only three results that can happen from that. One, you go to jail. Two, you go to the hospital. Three, you go to the morgue. And he told me that when I was about like 9 or 10 years old.

MATTHEWS: We have to continue this conversation, gentlemen, privately and on television.

I mean, a lot of people out there -- I will just tell you one thing. And I’m speaking now for all white people, but especially who have had to tried to change the last 50 or 60 years. And a lot of them have really tried to change.

And I’m sorry for this stuff. That’s all I’m saying.

Val Nicholas, thank you, and, Michael Steele.

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLAS: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, gentlemen, for both being colleagues of mine.

We will be right back after this.