Controversy is raging over the decision by Chuck Todd and his staff to air a segment featuring remorseful African-American murders in prison in the wake of the tragic shooting in a Charleston church last week by a white gunman who shot ten black parishioners, killing nine.
The decision to run the segment, originally decided upon Wednesday – one day prior to the Charleston shooting, was made after “internal debate” between Todd and his staff.
Todd who seemed to realize there would be severe backlash to the piece, started the segment with an attempt to quash any criticism, stating:
“The circumstances you are about to see are very different from the racist violence in Charleston. In this case, the inmates are African American that you’re going to hear from. But their lessons remain important. We simply ask you to look at this be a colorblind issue, as about just simply gun violence. Dan Slepian put these folks alone in a room with a camera. And asked them to do something unique, talk to their 12-year-old selves. What would they say now that could’ve made them put down the gun that ended a life and landed them in prison?”
Crooks and Liars issued a scathing response to Todd’s explanation. An article by Raw Story was more subdued, but had a title questioning the decision to air the segment: “WTF? NBC’s Chuck Todd airs ‘color-blind’ segment with all-black shooters to address Charleston massacre,” and their accompanying YouTube video of the segment (seen below) had a harsh title as well: “Meet the Press talks to all-black shooters after racist kills nine black church member.”
“You knew in your gut that it was the wrong day to air it. You knew it was a distortion of the discussion to depict only black men. That was clear from your tortured on air set up and even clearer with this tortured mea culpa. And yet you went ahead with the most predictably bad editorial decision in recent memory. This isn’t about provoking thoughtfulness or making your viewers uncomfortable in order to challenge outdated assumptions. You reinforced outdated assumptions by only showing black men as perpetrators of violence when the discussion clearly called for understanding why black men and women were targeted by a white man for violence. The tone, the timing, the message were all just wrong. Wrong. And it is on you, Chuck, not your staff, to own that decision. Don’t pretend that you are doing your viewers a service by making them “uncomfortable”. Our discomfort is with your exceptionally terrible choice to reinforce the narrative as only black men as perpetrators of violence, in a moment in which a segment of the white population believes it is necessary and laudable to kill black people based on that faulty perception. You owe an authentic apology to your viewers and everyone on your staff that you overrode.”
“You looked like another racism apologist, trying to divert attention away from the fact that this white supremacist targeted black people. “Hey, look at all these black people guilty of gun violence! See, its not an issue of race!” You’re a fucking joke.”
“What was the point of even air the clip in the first place, you right wing puppet camo’ing as some moderate. YOU!, Chuck Todd and people like you, are the reasons the richest country on the planet refuses to take everyone with it, just our tax dollars. You are a total tool. The point of his earlier clip was to get ratings on White fear. It’s easy. Why was it only Black males?? Every race in America commits gun violence. Oh yeah, you needed a blanket against the backlash on excessive police tactics. Wow dude. You fail on so many levels. Looks like Jack Welsh runs NBC too.”
“Chuck, you still don’t get it. I’m curious about the racial composition of your staff, your producers and the other folks who “discussed” whether it was a good idea to air this piece and decided to proceed. Your explanation rings hollow and is frankly even more insulting. It doesn’t matter that the men depicted in the piece “volunteered” to do it. No one is questioning whether their participation was forced. We are reacting to the lack of judgment on your part at a time when the nation is reeling from racial violence and looking for answers–not testimonials from felons who have nothing to do with Charleston. Until people like you who control the imageable influences in our nation are more thoughtful and more responsible in creating balanced, truthful stories consistently, we will not be able to have honest, productive conversations about race. Stop making excuses and rethink your approach. We are not buying it! MTP did not make me uncomfortable this morning, it made me angry. You are perpetuating subliminal and overt stereotypes and that is inexcusable for the typically reputable show that you have been called to lead.”
“This piece was poorly done, biased and not well timed. Gun violence is a huge issue in American that crosses all racial lines, yet you were only able to find Black males to interview? Let me ask how many black males have committed mass murders in colleges, schools and churches in the last 10-15years? Instead of using this opportunity that you have been blessed with to heal you have chosen to divide. Shame on you, Meet the Press and whoever the “we” is that thought it would be wise to run the piece. I pray that you and your team will have a better spirit of discernment in the future. Peace.”