NPR's Martin: 'Race Has Been Used by' GOP 'for Awfully Long Time'

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Tuesday's Amanpour & Co. on PBS, NPR's Michel Martin was seen declaring that "race has been used by the Republican party for an awfully long time" as she gave a forum to Republican consultant Stuart Stevens, who bashed his own over their reaction to President Donald Trump.

During a discussion of racial issues, Martin not only incorrectly claimed that it was the George H.W. Bush campaign that ran "the Willie Horton ad" in 1988, but she also repeated the discredited myth that candidate Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for President at the site where three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi.

Early in the interview, Stevens complained about Republicans who are critical of elitism and the liberal slant of many universities, and, when asked by Martin how this thinking on the right began, he claimed that "the original sin of the modern Republican party is race."

Later on, as she followed up on the race issue, Martin packed several pieces of misinformation into her question:

MICHEL MARTIN: Well, I'm going to go back to something you said at the beginning, though, is race being the original sin of the Republican party. Even Ronald Reagan -- who was a person who obviously was a person who deeply liked people and had a great sympathy for people. I mean, he, you know, had a campaign announcement in Philadelphia, Mississippi. I mean, please, you know, where three civil rights workers were viciously murdered, so it's, you know, and George H.W. Bush, I mean, you know, I don't think anybody would think that that man's a card-carrying racist, but then here he is with the Willie Horton ad.

She then added:

MARTIN: So, the fact of the matter is, race has been used by the Republican party for an awfully long time. And my question is: Why? I mean, does nobody think that that would be destructive at some point? Nobody think that that would become a kind of a tiger whose tail you can't hold on to? Nobody ever thought that?

After Stevens answered by arguing that Republicans had misjudged the reasons African-American voters were voting against them, Martin then took a shot at Fox News as she followed up:

MARTIN: And now, of course, you've got the whole Fox News media industrial complex sort of organized around the kind of the conservative media industrial complex to amplify that message.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Tuesday, March 31, Amanpour & Co. on PBS:

MICHEL MARTIN: How did this start, in your view? How did this whole fixation on elitism -- this turning away from science and from facts -- how did this start, in your view?

STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, in my view, the original sin of the modern Republican party is race because, if you go back to Eisenhower, in 1956 Eisenhower got almost 40 percent of the black vote. You go to Goldwater, that dropped to seven percent, and it never really came back. So for the last, you know, since '64, Republicans really have been marketing to primarily white voters.

(…)

MARTIN: Well, I'm going to go back to something you said at the beginning, though, is race being the original sin of the Republican party. Even Ronald Reagan -- who was a person who obviously was a person who deeply liked people and had a great sympathy for people. I mean, he, you know, had a campaign announcement in Philadelphia, Mississippi. I mean, please, you know, where three civil rights workers were viciously murdered, so it's, you know, and George H.W. Bush, I mean, you know, I don't think anybody would think that that man's a card-carrying racist, but then here he is with the Willie Horton ad.

So, the fact of the matter is, race has been used by the Republican party for an awfully long time. And my question is: Why? I mean, does nobody think that that would be destructive at some point? Nobody think that that would become a kind of a tiger whose tail you can't hold on to? Nobody ever thought that?

STEVENS: It became this sort of truism inside the Republican party that the reason African-Americans didn't vote for Republicans was that Republicans just weren't good at talking to African-Americans. And I write about this a lot in my book. That it was a communication problem -- they just didn't understand what we were saying, that there was this deep entrepreneurial spirit in the African-American community, that they had this sort of deep love of family, a lot of them were culturally conservative, we (audio gap) bond with them, we just had to learn how to talk to them.

And I think that was a complete myth. I think African-Americans understood what Republicans were saying very clearly, and they responded. And I think there's been this reluctance to address the core issues of sort of policy that have not favored African-Americans that Republicans still continue. So, you know, what is our solution? Our solution is payroll tax cuts when many people aren't benefiting by that. So I think it's a whole combination of issues that really goes to a reluctance to address fundamental policy issues that are not appealing to many of those who are the most disadvantaged in our society.

MARTIN: And now, of course, you've got the whole Fox News media industrial complex sort of organized around the kind of the conservative media industrial complex to amplify that message.

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