MSNBC Apologizes After Labeling Segregationist Democratic Congressmen Republicans

June 20, 2019 Updated: June 20, 2019

The openly left-wing MSNBC network has apologized after labeling segregationist congressmen Republicans when they were actually Democrats.

Kasie Hunt of MSNBC was covering a story about former vice president Joe Biden when she made the error.

Biden was speaking to Democratic donors in New York City on June 18 when he said more “civility” is necessary, relaying how he used to work with James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

“At least there was some civility,” Biden said, reported CBS. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other any more.”

A day later, at another fundraiser, he said that he “put up with the likes of like Jim Eastland and Hermy Talmadge and all those segregationists and all of that.”

Eastland and Talmadge, both former senators, were white supremacists who opposed the civil rights movement.

Hunt made the error while previewing the upcoming coverage on her show.

“Still to come, Joe Biden references his relationships with two former Republican colleagues at an event in New York City. The only problem? They were both segregationists,” she said, reported Mediaite.

When the coverage started, Hunt did not refer to the congressmen as Democrats or correct herself. Anita Dunn, a campaign surrogate for Biden, also didn’t correct Hunt or label the former officials as Democrats.

“In fact, the two repeatedly related the positions held by the two Democrats, as well as the necessity of working with them, to Republicans in Congress today and Democrats having to work with them. It only reinforced the earlier identification. Just like those Republicans then, Biden is talking about working with Republicans today, was the essential argument,” according to Mediaite, a website that covers news about media outlets.

Hunt took to Twitter on June 19 to issue a correction.

“Earlier today, I inaccurately said Sens. James Eastland & Herman Talmadge were Republicans. They were, of course, both Democrats. We regret the error. We’ll make sure to correct it on the show tomorrow, but wanted to correct the record here in the meantime,” she wrote.

Biden’s Words Draw Criticism From Rivals

Biden’s rivals for the 2020 nomination, including the two major black candidates in the race, roundly criticized Biden’s comments.

But Biden declined to apologize, saying that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) should apologize to him for questioning his commitment to civil rights.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden said. “I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole career.”

Booker’s response: “I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that. And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson,” he told CNN.

Earlier, Booker had said, “I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Biden was “coddling” segregationists in a way that “suggests to me that he doesn’t understand … the dark history of our country.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a white man married to a black woman, wrote on Twitter: “It’s 2019 & @JoeBiden is longing for the good old days of ‘civility’ typified by James Eastland. Eastland thought my multiracial family should be illegal.”

Biden tried clarifying his remarks, saying he was trying to argue that leaders sometimes have to work with people they disagree with to achieve goals, such as renewing the Voting Rights Act.

“The point I’m making is you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to like the people in terms of their views,” he said. “But you just simply make the case and you beat them without changing the system.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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