During a discussion on the Martin Bashir program Wednesday, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis decided he had simply had enough. Fellow panelist and Georgetown professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson was holding forth about how President Obama's political opposition was grounded not in criticism of his ideology or his (lack of) leadership but, you guessed it, racism.
Fed up with conservatives constantly being insulted on MSNBC as racist for opposing the president, Lewis interrupted Dyson and took him to task for refusing to deal with the actual merits of President Obama's policies and job approval, both of which are underwater in recent polls. To that, Dyson angrily shot back that Lewis was trying to cash in on his "white privilege" to "silence a black man" on the issue of race. [watch the video below the page break; listen to the MP3 audio here]
"Martin, are you going to call him out for that?" Lewis asked of Bashir, who, naturally, tut-tutted that Lewis should let Dyson finish his screed.
"Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt.... Please, please Matt, allow Professor Dyson to speak," Bashir pleaded.
"Oh, please, Matt?! What about please, Professor, who can't talk about anything other than race?!" Lewis retorted.
"I'm asking you to give him the courtesy of allowing [him] to express his point. You may dispute it, please allow him to speak," Bashir insisted.
Immediately following that, a furious Dyson fumed that he was simply "quoting Oprah Winfrey, by the way."
As my colleague Noel Sheppard pointed out to me, however, Dyson even flubbed on that point. Earlier in the segment, Dyson said Winfrey had told a British audience that the "bulk of the opposition to the president of the United States of America has to do with the single, singular fact that he's an African-American man."
In point of fact, Winfrey's statement was not as stark. Here's what she said in a recent interview with the BBC's Will Gompertz, with whom she was discussing her role in the film The Butler:
GOMPERTZ: To bring it back to the themes of the movie, do you think there's, has it ever crossed your mind that some of the treatment that Obama, and the challenges he's faced, and some of the reporting he's received, is because he's an African-American, and if he wasn't an African-American, if he was a white guy, this wouldn't have happened, he wouldn't have been treated in quite the same way, he wouldn't have to deal with quite the same confrontations?
WINFREY: Has it ever crossed my mind?! It's crossed my mind probably as many times as it's crossed your mind. Probably it's crossed my mind more times than it's crossed your mind. Just the level of disrespect, when the senator yelled out, "You're a liar." Remember that?
Yeah, I think that there's a level of disrespect for the office that occurs and that occurs in some cases and maybe even in many cases because he's African-American.
That's a far cry from Ms. Winfrey having charged that the majority of poltical opposition to the president is based on racism.
Furthermore, it's fundamentally weak sauce for an academic like Dyson to seek to prove his argument -- that President Obama is opposed by Republicans because he's black -- by appealing to a celebrity's opinion as his authority, rather than, I don't know, actually detailing for the viewing audience what he considers as actual instances of racism exhibited by conservatives.
Is that too much to expect from an academic? Is that too much to expect that the network which frequently gives him a platform?