Last Wednesday, MSNBC contributor and satellite radio host Dean Obeidallah said cable viewers should demand a package without Fox News so that they wouldn’t be complicit in funding what he called disinformation.
“If you pay for any basic cable package, you are helping fund everything that Fox News airs, from its misleading information about Covid vaccines (which prompted me to start a campaign in July urging people to file a complaint against Fox News with the Federal Trade Commission) to its 2020 election conspiracies,” Obeidallah wrote in a piece published on MSNBC’s website.
“It’s infuriating that on some level you and I are complicit in the toxic fodder being peddled on Fox News by helping fund its content.”
At some level, what Obeidallah was arguing is that Fox News should take action against those peddling what he called “toxic fodder” — Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were mentioned with particular venom — and ensure they act responsibly.
Then came the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict on Friday. There was plenty of “toxic fodder” to be seen on MSNBC and from NBC contributors, including Obeidallah himself. Which makes one wonder: Will they be held to account the same way left-bubble cable news thinks Fox ought to be held to account?
Media figures struggled to understand how Rittenhouse wasn’t found guilty, even when it would have been obvious to anyone who watched the trial. NBC’s employees seemed to be the most problematic of the bunch.
On the mild side, Maria Shriver’s tweet was a particular gem, noting her “son just asked me how it’s possible that he didn’t get charged [sic] for anything.” There was no shortage of responses to that comment, most involving Shriver’s uncle, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his driving record.
I’m trying to take a beat to digest the Rittenhouse verdict. My son just asked me how it’s possible that he didn’t get charged for anything. How is that possible? I don’t have an answer for him.
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) November 20, 2021
Then there was Obeidallah, who lent some febrile rhetoric over the potential internship offers Rittenhouse received from congressional Republicans. The MSNBC contributor appeared on “The ReidOut” Friday to say this was “part of the culture we’re living in with the GOP,” which “has mainstreamed white nationalism, now they’re mainstreaming and celebrating political violence.”
— Tommy moderna-vaX-Topher (@tommyxtopher) November 20, 2021
“I’ll tell you as a lawyer that our criminal justice system is predicated on two things: punish and deter. You punish someone for wrongdoing to deter them and others. This [jury verdict] is the opposite,” Obeidallah said. “This emboldens. It tells people, “Hey, if there’s a Black Lives Matter movement protest in the next state, get your AR, drive over. If you fear anyone, kill him, go on the stand, repeat with Kyle did, cry on cue and you walk.”
This, again, repeats a number of falsehoods. We again get the “across state lines” lie. Rittenhouse’s gun was in Wisconsin and he legally possessed it. He lived just across the state border and had a job as a lifeguard in Kenosha, 20 minutes away from his home in Illinois. The idea the two convicted criminals he killed were part of a “Black Lives Matter movement protest” and not a riot is almost farcical.
This isn’t just “misleading information,” it’s willful ignorance mixed with confirmation bias. But then, he was hardly alone.
Amber Ruffin, who hosts a show on NBC’s streaming service Peacock, used her Friday show to deliver an emotional but decidedly fact-challenged condemnation of Rittenhouse.
“There are very big obvious truths that no one wants to say on TV, but I will,” she said. “I can’t believe I have to say this but … It’s not OK for a man to grab a rifle, travel across state lines, shoot three people and walk free. It’s not OK for the judicial system to be blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color. It’s not OK for there to be an entirely different set of rules for white people.”
“But I don’t care about Kyle Rittenhouse. I don’t care about that racist judge. I don’t care about how f***ed up that jury must be. White people have been getting away with murder since time began. I don’t care about that. I care about you. And I can’t believe I have to say this but: You matter. You matter.
“Every time one of these verdicts come out, it’s easy to feel like you don’t, but I’m here to tell you that you do. You matter. You matter so much that the second that you start to get a sense that you do, a man will grab a gun he shouldn’t have in the first place and travel all the way to another state just to quiet you. That’s the power you have. So don’t forget it.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
In case you needed to be reminded of this after today’s verdict. pic.twitter.com/CufF7l3vtw
— amber ruffin (@ambermruffin) November 20, 2021
Again, we have the same lies — that Rittenhouse traveled across state lines with the gun, that he shouldn’t have had it, all of that. We have a new one here: that the judicial system is “blatantly and obviously stacked against people of color.” Never mind that none of the people Rittenhouse shot were black. She seems to ignore that a jury acquitted a black man, Andrew Coffee IV, in another high-profile self-defense case in Florida on the same day the Rittenhouse verdict came down.
Tiffany Cross of “The Cross Connection” — easily the worst of the bunch — delivered a contemptible performance on her Saturday show in which she declared Rittenhouse was a “little murderous white supremacist” and lamented “the fact that he gets to walk the streets freely.”
For those unfamiliar with Cross’ oeuvre, in April, she called black GOP Sen. Tim Scott a “token,” a “tap dancer” and the kind of black person “Harriet Tubman would have left behind.” (Cross herself is black, which apparently makes this acceptable.)
In September, she recycled the anti-Catholic “The Handmaid’s Tale” slur in reference to Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, saying there was “an actual handmaid on the court.” She had previously called former Vice President Mike Pence a “Jesus whisperer.” In other words, she has a track record of these kinds of statements.
Cross had Elie Mystal of leftist rag The Nation on to discuss the Rittenhouse case, as well as the fact GOP congressmen like Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida have potentially offered internships to Rittenhouse.
“I find these people disgusting, Elie, I’m disgusted at what I’m seeing,” Cross said. “It’s not just this trial, it’s other trials, but this in particular.”
“The fact that white supremacists roam the halls of Congress freely and celebrate this little murderous white supremacist, and the fact that he gets to walk the streets freely, it lets you know these people have access to instituting laws, they represent the legislative branch of this country,” Cross said. “What are we to make of that?”
MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross calls Kyle Rittenhouse “little murderous white supremacist”
Her guest then goes on a racist rant about white people being in favor of violence pic.twitter.com/6Vxw0sx6lG
— Jewish Deplorable (@TrumpJew2) November 21, 2021
For his part, Mystal didn’t disappoint, arguing “Matt Gaetz is giving the white folks what they want.”
“Welcome to the modern Republican Party,” Mystal said. “This is what these people want, and this is what a majority of white people vote for.”
He added that “a majority of white people are in favor of this kind of violence, it is because a majority of white people consistently vote Republican … Look at it. Look at yourselves. It’s gross!”
Mystal also claimed “a majority of white people pick judges” like the judge in Rittenhouse’s case, Bruce Schroeder … who was originally appointed by a Democratic governor, as per NPR, and has run unopposed ever since. Mystal’s theoretical framework of what “white folks” want and how it relates to the Republican Party has some holes in it, apparently.
It’s Cross’ rhetoric that should be put under the microscope, however, because it comes dangerously close to the dictionary definition of defamation.
This isn’t one of Norm Macdonald’s old “Weekend Update” sketches on “Saturday Night Live” where he’d joke that O.J. Simpson was a murderer despite the fact he was acquitted. This is an actual news channel with an actual anchor branding Rittenhouse not only a “white supremacist” (de rigueur on left-bubble cable news, really) but a “little murderous white supremacist.” Calling Rittenhouse a killer is one thing. Branding him a murderer — something he was acquitted of just a day before — raises the specter of a lawsuit.
Another MSNBC host who assumed Rittenhouse was guilty was Joy Reid. Reid took to TikTok last week before the verdict to bemoan “white tears” — Rittenhouse cried on the stand — and to compare him to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, another white man she seems to assume is guilty of sexual assault because of unsubstantiated accusations made during his confirmation hearings.
“In America, there’s a thing about both white vigilantism and White tears,” Reid said. “Particularly male, white tears. Really white tears in general, because that’s what Karens are, right? They can Karen out and then as soon as they get caught, bring waterworks.”
“White men can get away with that too,” she added. “Because it has the same effect.”
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) November 17, 2021
Notice the language: “as soon as they get caught.” Translation: Both are guilty.
This is just a smattering of what went on over the past week on NBC’s outlets. It’s easy to blame the individuals here. But don’t just blame them. To use the language of Mr. Mystal, this is what a majority of MSNBC execs want. A majority of MSNBC execs are in favor of this kind of argumentation and a majority of MSNBC execs pick hosts like Cross and Reid, as well as contributors like Obeidallah and Mystal.
Look at your product. Look at yourselves. It’s gross. You have Dean Obeidallah complaining about “toxic fodder” at Fox News in a piece for MSNBC. And yet, the digital ink could barely dry on that piece before you could witness far worse toxic fodder over on MSNBC — and from Obeidallah himself, it’s worth noting.
If you thought that piece was worth publishing, NBC News, it’s time for a bit of cleaning house. Unless, of course, neither your contributor, your editors nor your executives believed a single word of it.
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