Moments after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of manslaughter and murder in the death of George Floyd, far-left MSNBC contributor and journalism professor Jason Johnson went on an unhinged rant saying he wasn’t “happy,” “pleased,” or “satifisf[ied]” with the “cultural make-up call” because there must be “radical reform” in order for police officers to stop killing African-Americans.
Johnson’s rant was so divorced from reality that even race hustler and ReidOut host Joy Reid and faux Republican Michael Steele expressed disagreement with their colleague’s scorching hot take.
Deadline: White House host Nicolle Wallace had given Johnson the floor and he made the most of it by acting as though the verdict had come back not guilty.
Johnson began by saying that he saw this verdict as “a cultural make-up call” and, because of that: “I’m not happy. I'm not pleased. I don't have any sense of satisfaction. I don't think this is the system working. I don't think this is a good thing.”
He added that the case proved “that, in order to get a nominal degree of justice in this country, that a black man has to be murdered on air, viewed by the entire world, there has to be a year's worth of protests and a phalanx of other white police officers to tell one officer that he was wrong in order to get one scintilla of justice.”
Johnson continued (click “expand”):
That doesn't make me feel happy. That doesn’t make me feel satisfied. It makes me worry about what's going to happen when these other officers are held on trial. It makes me upset all the more that we didn't have this for Breonna Taylor. It makes me concerned about what's going to happen in a trial for Ahmud Arbery, so no, I mean, this is not the system working. This is a make-up call.
This is the justice system trying to say, “hey, this is one bad apple,” because that's how this is going to be interpreted. It's going to be “this one bad apple, he got in trouble, yay, blah, blah, blah,” and yet there's still going to be young black men and women across this country being shot today, tomorrow, and two weeks from now because unless we have some radical reform, there's no lesson learned.
Before we get to the rebuttals to Johnson, Princeton professor and fellow contributor Eddie Glaude opened the following hour of MSNBC by giving Johnson a run for his money with his own hot take that insinuated police would retaliate for the verdict with violence against black people.
After crediting teenager Darnella Frazier for recording Floyd’s death on her cellphone, Glaude admitted that his “stomach has been in knots” over the case and even though “this is a moment of relief,” “it’s an inaugural moment.”
Glaude then warned that there will be a “reaction of the police” that, if people aren’t careful, will be lost amidst the fears of “violence” from “protests” if the verdict had been one of innocence:
[W]e need to understand that we are in this moment of transition to change the very nature of policing. The last part I would make quickly is we have been preparing for the violence of protests. Now we need to prepare for the reaction of the police. We were prepared for the protesters and what they might do if the verdict came down in a way that they were not satisfied. Now we need to be mindful of what it means that we're seeing these tetonic plates shift in the very ways in which policing is happening in the country.
Going back to Johnson’s hot take, Wallace immediately brought in Reid and Steele to respond. Incredibly, Reid (and Steele) reminded viewers that the people whose feelings actually matter are those of the Floyd family.
And in Reid’s case, she pointed out the importance of nearly a dozen police officers stepping up to tell the world that what Chauvin did was unacceptable (click “expand”):
STEELE: You know, I have to tell you when I heard — when I heard the announcement of the first — on the first verdict, I — I fist pumped. I just had an enormous sense of relief that — that not the system worked but that this happened and it happened at a time that it needed to happen. I understand what my — my good buddy, Jason Johnson is saying but I'm not — I’m not prepared to just strip it down that bare right now. I think for the family, going back to what I said before, I think for the family, because that's at the end of the day, what this is about. It's not what Jason or I or anyone on this set thinks about this moment. It's what this family feels and the sense of relief that they have, the vision that we — the issue — excuse me, the scene we have right now with people — with black people hugging and understanding what this moment means historically but also for this family. So, I think that we'll have time, and there will be pressure to bear on all the things that Jason just talked about. I think that's why I said this was a crucible moment. It's hot. It’s — we — we are forging a new instrument here of criminal justice, and a new instrument on how we move forward as a country on these issues and black people are at the tip of that spear now...We have to take from this how we want the justice system to work for us and I think that's what this jury is saying is, yeah, we got it. We need this system to work for black men and for black people if it's going to work at all.
REID: I have. I heard, you know, both Jason and Michael, our friends, and listen, my first thoughts as I heard that verdict being read, Nicole, really were for George Floyd's family. You and I have both interviewed members of his family, his brother Philonis, his daughter, who famously yelled out, “my daddy changed the world.” And I think that what just happened today, you know, I take Jason's caveats to heart, but even if it took ten police officers to bring about a verdict that will bring justice and a sense of peace to this family, I'm good with that because the reality is, the verdict today was not just against this police officer. It was against the kind of defense that was mounted for him. It's the same kind of defense that was mounted in the Rodney King case, the black Superman who, no matter how much violence you commit against his body, can raise up, even from the dead in the case of George Floyd, and pose a threat. The thought of a black man as an inherent threat, a black body as an inherent threat, that's what Derek Chauvin's defense tried to use in his defense. The idea that George Floyd’s own life issues were to blame for his death, the fact that he became addicted, like so many Americans who are struggling with addiction, that that’s the cause of his death....We've seen every excuse for the killing of black bodies, and the excuse always includes blaming the dead. The fact that that didn't work this time, even if it took all of these other police officers, who, by the way, it's important that they testified, Nicolle, because this was police drawing a line, right? This was law enforcement.
The only person who came to Johnson’s defense was former Democratic senator and MSNBCer Claire McCaskill, who said that the case “made us all realize that this is a war that we are fighting for justice and for equality in our criminal justice system,” and that white people must realize their privilege.
To see the relevant MSNBC transcript from April 20, click here.