Joy Reid: Trump Backers Making COVID-19 into 'Racial Ethnic Crisis'

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Sunday's AM Joy, MSNBC host Joy Reid led an all-liberal panel which portrayed right-leaning protesters and Donald Trump supporters as racists who, in Reid's words, are "making China the new Mexico" and who see the Chinese as "the new scary nonwhite people." Panel members not only went so far as to suggest that protesters not only are unconcerned with the disproportionate number of minorities killed by COVID-19, but one even claimed they were partially motivated by wishing to see more minorities die from the virus.

During a discussion of right-leaning activists who have recently been protesting to call for a loosening of pandemic restrictions, MSNBC contributor and ex-Republican Kurt Bardella took his typical shots at Breitbart News and Steve Bannon, claiming that Trump supporters are "creating racial tension and trying to inflame it."

In spite of the need to hold China accountable for allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to launch in their country, Reid responded by portraying Trump supporters as trying to push racism: "Yeah, and including making China the new Mexico -- the new scary nonwhite people are the Chinese, right? So it's like he's still trying to use that same racial trope. It's the same playbook again."

As she turned to liberal columnist Renee Graham of the Boston Globe, host Reid further suggested President Trump was making the pandemic into a "racial ethnic crisis." Here's Reid:

JOY REID: Renee, I want to just go to your reporting on this as well because you are coming to us from Boston, and I, having lived and gone to school in that neck of the woods, know that there's a lot of racial tension. It ain't just in the South -- there's a lot there as well. How is this playing out in the world up there? Because, you know, it's not all that hard unfortunately to turn a health crisis into a racial ethnic crisis.

Graham began by stretching to portray protesters as a "bunch of white people" who became less concerned about the pandemic after it turned out minorities are disproportionately more effected:

RENEE GRAHAM, BOSTON GLOBE OPINION COLUMNIST: One thing I think is really interesting is how these protests have started after all the headlines this week about the disproportionate effect the virus is having in communities of color. And so, when I look at these protests, what I see are a bunch of white people essentially saying, "Oh, it's effecting those people, so why do I have to change my life for them?" So that's what this is coming down to.

Host Reid followed up by going to Michael Harriot -- a senior writer for The Root who presumably took part in the absence of show regular Jason Johnson who was suspended for racially inflammatory comments. Harriot's analysis went so far to the fringe even Reid had to step in to be a voice of reason after he claimed that protesters actually want to see more minorities killed by the virus:

MICHAEL HARRIOT, THEROOT.COM SENIOR WRITER: I think it is more than "I don't care about these black and brown people who are dying" -- I think what they're saying quite clearly when you see the numbers -- when you see the statistics -- when you see the CDC data is, "I want more black and brown people to die," right? If you want the government to open up, then you want more black and brown people to die. We see it happening in real time -- we see it happening in Donald Trump's tweets -- we see it in the data -- there can be no other outcome if you open up what they call the society or the business or the country unless you see more black and brown people die.

Reid finally pushed back on the wacky views of one of her panelists as she pointed out that whites would also die if restrictions were lifted.

And, earlier in the segment, The Nation's Dave Zirin also delivered some incendiary comments as he likened Fox News and protesters to Nazis: "They've gone from "All lives matter" to "No lives matter." These folks -- let's be honest about what they are. They are the Fox News/Nazi/confederate/death cult rump of the Republican party."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, April 19, AM Joy on MSNBC:

11:09 a.m. Eastern

MICHAEL HARRIOT, THEROOT.COM SENIOR WRITER: It's an extension of the white populism that gave us Donald Trump, right? It is this disaffected, angry white people who are economically, they say, disenfranchised, and they want their country back. And what their country is, is the right to exist no matter how much they harm the people who are around them -- the poor people, the people who are sick, the people who are suffering from a global pandemic. They don't care as long as they can get their paycheck. We saw that when Donald Trump was elected, and we're seeing that again now that we're on the eve of another election.

JOY REID: Yeah, I mean, it's -- they're making it real clear by waving the Confederate flags, too. They're not, like, hiding it. It's not like they're hiding it under a bushel. You know, Dave Zirin, it would almost be sort of more direct and open to just go out and chant, "Let us infect you, let s infect you," if that's what they're saying. They're saying, "We're in a bunch -- we're not social distancing -- we could be passing this virus around just among us right here. Now, let us come back to work and infect y'all." It's a strange sort of civil rights issue if that's what they think it is. ...

DAVE ZIRIN, THE NATION SPORTS EDITOR: They've gone from "All lives matter" to "No lives matter." These folks -- let's be honest about what they are. They are the Fox News/Nazi/confederate/death cult rump of the Republican party.

(...)

KURT BARDELLA, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And it's such typical right-wing trolling material that we've seen for years now from people like Breitbart and Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. This is right out of their playbook, and it's no coincidence that all of this -- this escalation that we're seeing is happening right as Joe Biden solidified the Democratic nomination -- right as polls show that Biden has a lead over Trump, and Trump is in trouble and under water. And typical Trump is trading civil disobedience, trying to create racial tensions and inflame them, and change the narrative to take attention from his failures and put it somewhere else.

JOY REID: Yeah, and including making China the new Mexico -- the new scary nonwhite people are the Chinese, right? So it's like he's still trying to use that same racial trope. It's the same playbook again. Renee, I want to just go to your reporting on this as well because you are coming to us from Boston, and I, having lived and gone to school in that neck of the woods, know that there's a lot of racial tension. It ain't just in the South -- there's a lot there as well. How is this playing out in the world up there? Because, you know, it's not all that hard unfortunately to turn a health crisis into a racial ethnic crisis.

RENEE GRAHAM, BOSTON GLOBE OPINION COLUMNIST: One thing I think is really interesting is how these protests have started after all the headlines this week about the disproportionate effect the virus is having in communities of color. And so, when I look at these protests, what I see are a bunch of white people essentially saying, "Oh, it's effecting those people, so why do I have to change my life for them?" So that's what this is coming down to.

In Boston, the numbers are the same as they are nationally. One of the public hospitals -- Boston Medical Center -- 82 percent of the COVID-19 cases are either black or Latino. These numbers are real, and I think what you're seeing out there in the protests -- who, by the way, are overwhelmingly white, which people aren't really talking about, and it's quite noticeable -- is that they don't care. You know, this isn't about -- they're out there waving American flags. They don't care about America -- what they care about is Donald Trump.and what Donald Trump has created. They don't care about the people risking their lives to keep this country moving -- they don't care about empty, dangerous rebellion. All they want is another battle waged for their lost cause. This isn't a protest -- this is a temper tantrum.

REID: Michael, I feel like this is in your lane, so I'm going to let you respond to that.

MICHAEL HARRIOT, THEROOT.COM SENIOR WRITER: Again, I disagree with the notion we shouldn't be covering this because I think it is more than "I don't care about these black and brown people who are dying" -- I think what they're saying quite clearly when you see the numbers -- when you see the statistics -- when you see the CDC data is, "I want more black and brown people to die," right? If you want the government to open up, then you want more black and brown people to die. We see it happening in real time -- we see it happening in Donald Trump's tweets -- we see it in the data -- there can be no other outcome if you open up what they call the society or the business or the country unless you see more black and brown people die.

REID: But here's the challenge to that, though, Michael, and I'll open up to everyone. Everyone can feel free to jump in here. Maybe go to Kurt since you used to work in the whole Breitbart world. It isn't just black and brown people who would die in that scenario. If you opened the country back up without massive testing, what will happen is more of everyone will die, right, because everyone who comes in contact with any person infected -- even if they're asymptomatic -- can catch it and can die. Black people are dying more because they're coming into it with more preexisting health conditions that exacerbate it -- more asthma, more preexisting issues that make it hit you harder. But it's not like white people wouldn't die, too, so, Kurt, it's illogical to demand to go back into a space where they themselves could get sick and die.

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