NBC's Todd Evades Calling Illegal Immigration 'Illegal,' But Accepts Liberal Terminology

June 11th, 2014 8:31 PM

Chuck Todd's political correctness button appeared to be in the on position as the NBC political director and chief White House correspondent made four appearances on MSNBC Tuesday night highlighting immigration as the main issue behind House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Republican primary loss. Not only did Todd conspicuously evade using the word "illegal" while talking about illegal immigration, he even made a crack at one point mocking GOP nominee and Tea Partier Dave Brat for using the words "amnesty" or "illegals" so many times in an interview aired on Todd's Daily Rundown MSNBC show as if there were something wrong with doing so.

Todd, who only once used the word "illegally" amongst all four of his appearances, even though he referred generically to "immigration" 21 times, was dismissive toward Brat's word choice: "I think he used the word 'amnesty' and 'illegals' every fourth word when I was interviewing him this morning." By contrast, Todd was more accepting of loaded terminology preferred by liberals like "Dream Act."

As Todd recalled that recent attention to the influx of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children across the border from Mexico helped boost the Tea Partier's campaign, the NBC political director neglected to inform viewers that President Obama's policy allowing some illegal immigrants who entered the country as children to avoid deportation is largely to blame for exacerbating the problem.

Todd appeared twice during the 8:00 p.m. All In with Chris Hayes show, once during the 9:00 p.m. The Rachel Maddow Show, and once during the 10:00 p.m. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Below are transcripts of some of the relevant portions of Todd's Tuesday, June 10, MSNBC primetime appearances:

#From All In with Chris Hayes:

CHUCK TODD, AT 8:20 P.M.: I think it, look, it's a perfect storm of three things that I think you need to understand. Number one, Virginia is not a state that has many primaries. So it notoriously is a low-turnout primary. Many congressional primaries, if you call them, are really decided at conventions, Very rarely do they actually go to the ballot. So a lot of history of low-turnout primaries.

Number two, it's a one-issue campaign -- immigration, for Dave Brat. And the second, the third thing here is, think about what has been in the news in the last 48 hours? Suddenly, there was urgency to Dave Brat's message against Eric Cantor. He was hammering Cantor for, in particular, being for a version of the Dream Act.

Eric Cantor, remember, about nine months ago, was coming out, he wanted to pass a House Republican version of the Dream Act. Which is essentially to give an opportunity for some citizenship or legalization for minors that were brought over who were undocumented, that were brought over, you know, wasn't their fault, it was their parents' fault. Well, what's happening right now on the border? There is this crisis. Well, this has lit up talk radio. It's been lighting up the right over the last 72 hours. So think about that perfect storm. Add it all together.


But I think it does a couple of things, and I heard Steve (Kornacki) earlier. Immigration, dead. There's no, there's going to be no stomach among House Republicans -- the 50 or so that would be necessary to get some form or reform -- they're just going to run for the hills on immigration between now and the next two years.


CHRIS HAYES, 8:49 P.M.: Chuck, you know who I want to talk to tonight more than anyone is Rick Perry because Rick Perry has been there. Rick Perry stood up on that stage in that 2012 primary, Republican primary, and he had to defend the University of Texas giving in-state tuition to, quote, "illegals," and he got creamed, Right now, Rick Perry is watching this news, and he's been where Eric Cantor has been.

TODD: He has, and he has seen the entire Texas Republican Party taken over by folks to the right of Rick Perry, particularly on the issue of immigration. Look, the issue of immigration, when we talk about this, and I was glad to hear Steve (Kornacki) do this, we talk about the Tea Party and we think, oh, it's debt and all this stuff, what truly animates the Republican base right now, this election year, is one issue, and it's been immigration.

When you need to sort of win in the end, and you see last-minute desperate attacks from somebody that's behind in Republican primaries, it's always been on the issue of immigration. They drop the 'A' bomb, if you will: amnesty. And everything becomes, "Amnesty, amnesty, amnesty."

Think about this race, though, Chris, and I apologize if this has been repeated. There was a perfect storm here for Mr. Brat. You had an issue he had been harping on the entire time: immigration. In particular, hammering Eric Cantor for being for a version of the Dream Act, which had to do with minors. What's been happening for the last 72 hours? Massive national coverage to a humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. It gave urgency to Dave Brat's message.


#From The Rachel Maddow Show:

CHUCK TODD, AT 9:04 P.M.: Well, the winner, I think, are the people who are fighting major immigration reform. I think that that is the crowd the feels as if they made the loudest statement tonight by this win. And that's what you got to, you know, there's going to be a lot of this, is this a Tea Party victory? This is not like Mississippi Senate, Rachel. You know, there's this professional Tea Party crowd, there's a difference, and there's sometimes true grassroots movements. This guy tapped into the immigration issue, which is a much more organic movement inside the Republican base, a little separate from the Tea Party world. Sometimes we all conflate it because anything that isn't establishment gets labeled as Tea Party

But this really was about immigration. You didn't have the professional groups in there. And I think you have this perfect storm, as we've talked about earlier, with what is in the news at the moment, right? Dave Brat was basically, what was his proof that Eric Cantor was, quote, unquote, "for amnesty"? And I had him on my show this morning. I think he used the word "amnesty" and "illegals" every fourth word when I was interviewing him this morning.

But what was his proof? Well, Eric Cantor was sponsoring that Dream Act, his Republican version of the Dream Act. Well, what's the about? It's about children being brought across the border illegally -- unaccompanied minors or minors -- but people it wasn't their fault. Well, what's the current crisis that the border is dealing with? It's been lighting up talk radio, Rachel. So you get a sense of urgency to his message right at the perfect moment you would want to have it if you were running this insurgent, truly more grassroots than I think some of this other stuff gets, sometimes we call it grassroots. When you're not spending $100,000, that's a grassroots campaign movement.


There's some immigration reform advocates tonight that have emailed me and said, "Hey, Chuck, don't declare immigration reform dead yet. Eric Cantor was terrible on it because he was secretly helping, but he didn't know how to back it, and he was pretending he was against it in the primary." So he was, you know, being the armadillo, right? Trying to have it both ways. Where Lindsey Graham, he's unapologetic about being for immigration reform, and he's doing fine tonight. Look, I think that ultimately when, again, you had everything come together. You had one candidate channeling that outrage. And mostly, Rachel, this is concentrated in the rural South, and it really is in these gerrymandered rural Southern places that I think you're seeing where immigration has more of a bit in these political primaries.

So you're asking, "Why doesn't it show up in the national polls?"
Well, you know, the South still isn't, that's why it doesn't show up in the national polls, but if you look at it regionally, you'll see the South is in a different place on immigration than pretty much everywhere else in the country, particularly in the West and the Northeast but you see it, it's more acutely in the South. And we've been watching it this year in all these primaries, that particularly in the Southern primaries, that immigration ends up being the most animating issue in order to at least talk to the base or have a conversation with the base of the Republican Party.