NBC's Gregory: Do Obama Critics Have Same 'Resentment and Fear' as Racists 50 Years Ago?

At the top of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory interviewed Democratic Congressman John Lewis about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech and seized the opportunity to bash President Obama's political opponents: "...in your view, a lot of people can't get comfortable with the idea of an African American president...Do you see some of the same trappings of resentment and fear in our modern-day politics?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Gregory further teed up Lewis to bash conservatives: "And you even said during your speech yesterday [at the MLK speech anniversary], 'There are forces, there are people who want to take us back.' What specifically are you talking about?" Lewis ranted: "Well, I hear people over and over again saying, 'We want to take our country back.' Take it back where? Where are we going?...when I was growing up, I saw those signs that said, "White Men," "Colored Men"...Those signs are gone."

After suggesting "resentment and fear" as the motivation behind criticism of Obama, Gregory followed up: "Is that what you're warning of when you see some of those forces coming back?" Lewis replied: "Well, I think there is – some forces want to create this sense of fear. They think the country is moving too fast, and maybe becoming too progressive. The country is not the same country. We're a little browner, people are coming together. And in a short time, the minority will be the majority."

Later on the program, during an interview with Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Gregory touted a sound bite of former Secretary of State Colin Powell ranting on the January 13 Meet the Press that there is "a dark vein of intolerance" in the Republican Party and that "they still sort of look down on minorities."

Following that clip, Gregory pressed Jindal: "You've heard John Lewis say that there's still not a lot of acceptance of an African American president. Calls for impeachment [of President Obama] this week that some have chalked up to racism. What's your view of a dark vein of intolerance within the GOP?"

Since ex-Republican Powell launched that attack on his former political party, NBC has looked for any opportunity to use it to slam the GOP:

NBC's Gregory Invites Panel to Pile On After Powell Slams GOP for 'Intolerance'

NBC's Williams Invites Colin Powell to Slam GOP 'Hatred' and 'Nastiness'

NBC's Gregory Grills DeMint on GOP 'Intolerance' and 'Racist Comments'

NBC's Gregory Hits Rubio With Colin Powell's Rant About 'Intolerant' GOP


Here is a portion of Gregory's August 25 exchange with Lewis:

10:33AM ET

(...)

GREGORY: You know, the President will speak on Wednesday in the same spot. He'll mark 50 years since the "I Have a Dream" speech. We've talked over the years and you told me about a year and a half ago, in your view, a lot of people can't get comfortable with the idea of an African American president, even though what a testament to the progress and the dream that Dr. King had. And you even said during your speech yesterday, "There are forces, there are people who want to take us back." What specifically are you talking about?

LEWIS: Well, I hear people over and over again saying, "We want to take our country back." Take it back where? Where are we going? We need to go forward. We made so much progress. I often think – when I was growing up, I saw those signs that said, "White Men," "Colored Men," "White Women," "Colored Women," "White Waiting," "Colored Waiting." Those signs are gone.

When I first came to Washington in 1961 – the same year that President Barack Obama was born – to go on the Freedom Rides, black people and white people couldn't be seated on a bus or a train together to travel through the south. So when our children grew up and their children grew up, they would not see those signs. The only places they would see those signs would be in a book, in a museum, or on a video.

GREGORY: Do you see some of the same trappings of resentment and fear in our modern-day politics? Is that what you're warning of when you see some of those forces comin

g back?

LEWIS: Well, I think there is – some forces want to create this sense of fear. They think the country is moving too fast, and maybe becoming too progressive. The country is not the same country. We're a little browner, people are coming together. And in a short time, the minority will be the majority.

GREGORY: Is there a backlash that comes with that, in your judgment?

LEWIS: Well, I think as Americans, we must be prepared to make the adjustment and not be afraid. Be courageous. Be embracive. Embrace the change.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC