NBC's Todd Tees Up Guest to Claim Criticism of Big Government Just Racism in Disguise

On Tuesday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd invited liberal historian Taylor Branch to blast modern-day conservatism as nothing more than racism in disguise: "You talked about how George Wallace decided to change his language right after – when the word segregation no longer had a – so he changed his language and it all became about big government." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In response, Branch ranted: "He attacked big government, he called 'pointy-headed bureaucrats' and 'tyrannical judges' and 'tax and spend legislators.' He basically invented a lot of the modern vocabulary of politics, taking racial animosity and unease and making – and transmuting it into a distrust of government. And that's – you know, that's what we're doing now."

Todd sparked the exchange by noting a recent essay authored by Branch on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech: "You seem to intimate in this essay that you wrote marking the occasion, that President Obama, of all people, seems more hesitant than most to talk about race. Do you think the conversation he tries to have tomorrow [on the anniversary of the speech] should be a bit uncomfortable?"

Branch began: "I think that he should talk about race in his own experience as it informs our partisan gridlock. If the truth is that partisan gridlock is at bottom racial-" Todd interrupted: "Do you believe it is?" Branch declared: "Oh, absolutely."

To bolster his assertion of GOP opposition to Obama being racially motivated, Branch proclaimed: "You look at the parties. One party averages 50% more white people and the other party averages twice as many non-white people per constituency. We're locked in these things. It didn't happen by accident."

In the essay that Todd referenced, Branch similarly condemned Republicans and conservatives:

Race flipped the century-old "solid South" from Democratic to Republican after 1964. Dragnets now search predominantly black teenagers to confiscate guns in New York, while zealous coalitions elsewhere stockpile guns into predominantly white hands – all professing a race-neutral public safety. Partisan gridlock is racial by the numbers. The House of Representatives has packed itself into Democratic districts that average twice the non-white population compared with Republican districts that average fifty percent more white people. One national party tends to be skittish about race. The other transmutes latent fear and distrust into a pervasive hostility toward government.


Here is a transcript of Todd's August 27 exchange with Branch:

9:39AM ET

(...)

CHUCK TODD: You know, Taylor, you seem to intimate in this essay that you wrote marking the occasion [of the 50th anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech], that President Obama, of all people, seems more hesitant than most to talk about race. Do you think the conversation he tries to have tomorrow should be a bit uncomfortable?

TAYLOR BRANCH: I think that he should talk about race in his own experience as it informs our partisan gridlock. If the truth is that partisan gridlock is at bottom racial-

TODD: Do you believe it is?

BRANCH: Oh, absolutely.

TODD: It was amazing to me. You talked about how George Wallace decided to change his language right after – when the word segregation no longer had a – so he changed his language and it all became about big government.

BRANCH: He attacked big government, he called "pointy-headed bureaucrats" and "tyrannical judges" and "tax and spend legislators." He basically invented a lot of the modern vocabulary of politics, taking racial animosity and unease and making – and transmuting it into a distrust of government. And that's – you know, that's what we're doing now.

You look at the parties. One party averages 50% more white people and the other party averages twice as many non-white people per constituency. We're locked in these things. It didn't happen by accident.

(...)

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