Fox News found at least two creative ways to exploit Joe Biden’s remarks. One, to pretend he had somehow absolved Donald Trump’s remark about “some very fine” people marching with the Nazis in Charlottesville and the other as an excuse to make racial attacks on Cory Booker and Kamala Harris for objecting.
In case you missed it, here’s the controversy Fox can’t stop gloating over, while feigning only journalistic interest, via New York magazine:
Earlier this week, Joe Biden made remarks stressing the importance of “civility” in politics, and somehow found himself embroiled in another controversy. The issue: while touting his ability to work with his Senate colleagues during a Tuesday night fundraiser in New York, Biden cited his good working relationship with two defenders of segregation in his own party, Senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia.
“We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done,” Biden said of his late former colleagues, quipping that Eastland, “Never called me ‘boy’; he always called me ‘son.’”
This sparked the biggest clash between Democratic 2020 candidates in the primary so far, with Senator Cory Booker calling on Biden to apologize, and several other candidates decrying his remarks. The former vice president hit back at his critics on Wednesday night, saying he had nothing to apologize for – and in fact, “Cory should apologize.”
The presence of Fox News contributor and resident African American black attacker David Webb on the panel was an immediate clue that he was about to make racial attacks on Booker. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, with a bonus attack on candidate Kamala Harris while he was at it.
WEBB: Everybody don’t be shocked, I’m going to actually agree with Joe Biden on this. I don’t think Joe Biden should apologize, number one.
Cory Booker’s playing the race baiting game, along with Kamala Harris, ahead of next week’s debate in Miami and that is all it is.
I’m no fan of Joe Biden, been a failure in D.C., but if he apologizes, he gets on bended knee to Cory Booker and this whole idea that blacks are so stupid in this country that we have to go down this road with them.
It’s bad enough that someone would defend Biden by launching race-baiting attacks on Booker and Harris. But cohost Lisa Boothe topped Webb by making a ridiculous comparison between Biden and Trump’s assertion that there were “some very fine people” joining the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville two years ago.
BOOTHE: Isn’t that what Vice President Joe Biden did to the president when he invoked President Trump’s comments on Charlottesville in his campaign launch video? Because even Jake Tapper, CNN’s Jake Tapper admitted on air that when President Trump said “very fine people on both sides,” he wasn’t referring to the neo-Nazis and the KKK. This is something that Jake Tapper said on air.
FACT CHECK: As I explained in a previous post, Trump’s remarks were at best unclear about the Nazis. But there is no doubt Trump said there were “some very fine people” marching with them when there was no doubt who and what their “Unite the Right” rally was about. Furthermore, while Tapper acknowledged that Trump was not referring specifically to neo-Nazis and white supremacists as fine people but to those marching with them, Tapper also clearly suggested that it was a distinction without much of a difference.
More importantly, Biden was not praising segregationists as “very fine people.” And while I've never wanted to pal around with any, the segregationists in Congress were not the equivalent of violent neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville. That's not to say I saw nothing wrong with Biden's remark that was stupid and insensitive. But equivalent to praising neo-Nazi rallyers? No way.
BOOTHE: So isn’t that the exact same thing that Joe Biden did to President Trump? And, if so, why does he deserve the benefit of the doubt here?
That was a prompt for Webb to open up another round of the right wing’s Charlottesville Rehab for Trump. “Joe Biden launched his campaign in Charlottesville on a lie, on a badly edited, but cleverly edited lie by the media on what President Trump said,” Webb insisted.
During all this time, the lone liberal on the five-person panel, Leslie Marshall, saw no need to interrupt. But, finally, when Webb said that in “the liberal politics world,” the candidates will “eat each other alive,” she tried to jump in and do a “both sidesism” about Republicans eating their own. But oops! There was no time even for that tame defense. Cohost Harris Faulkner broke in so we could hear Trump, standing at the door of the White House, answering some shouted questions from reporters about Iran.
Watch Fox try to make racial hay out of Biden’s remarks below, from the June 20, 2019 Outnumbered.
(Boothe image via screen grab)
Also, the Senate and our political culture even in the 1970s was not the same place where we are today in 2019. There were still segregationists in the Congress. Racism did not just vanish in the 1960s, as the current morass proves. But there was more of an attitude through most of the Congress of people trying to work together. There were always extreme Right Wingers who would vote against everything, but until recent years, those were always a tiny minority. Biden’s discussion is about a time when politicians really did try to work together to find common ground, even if they totally opposed each other in most areas. Tip O’Neill was able to work with the banality of the people in the Reagan White House, even though that Administration was filled with Hard Right Wingers and criminals. He just found common ground where he could so they could do the mundane tasks of government, like funding programs and managing the country.
In the current epoch, we no longer have Right Wingers who are willing to work with anyone on any issue. This situation was magnified when Bill Clinton was President, magnified again when W was allowed to take office despite losing the 2000 election, magnified again when President Obama was in office, and finally boosted to infinity with the present day Pence White House.
If Biden is wrong anywhere here, it is in his foolish assumption that the Right Wing has ANY intention of working with him on ANYTHING. Should he be elected, he will be completely stymied on every single move he makes if the GOP still controls the Senate. The Right Wing idea of “working with” the Dems involves the Dems completely surrendering on every single aspect of every single issue. Their idea of compromise is that they won’t ever do it – to the Right Wing, the compromising is supposed to be done by everyone ELSE. If the GOP still controls the Senate, a Biden White House would likely be unable to get any of their nominees to anything confirmed, let alone fill any judicial vacancies. The GOP would just take the position that the American people would wait until the NEXT presidential election to start filling those spots.
Trump – who has a problematic track record of racism (e.g., busted by undercover agents refusing housing to blacks) – is trying to appeal to blue collar, poorly educated rural whites who think non-whites are stealing their jobs, sucking their wallets dry via welfare payments and a bunch of dangerous criminals who need to be deported or locked up. Trump has mainstreamed these ideas into an official Republican white nationalist movement. As a bonus, Trump pushes the similar Christian identity movement.
Let’s assume some of the people marching side by side with the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were simple protesters defending confederate statues as part of their heritage or the nation’s history. How long do you think ‘very fine people’ would hang out with people shouting “Jews will not replace us”?
Sophistry started out innocently enough in ancient Greece as the art of debate. Somewhere along the road it morphed into the art of using talking points to deceive. Fox News thinks themselves experts in the modern art of sophistry.