NBC and Fox Sunday shows featured no Asian American voices to discuss attacks on Asian Americans

NBC’s Chuck Todd admitted that the “collective political intelligentsia” hadn’t been listening to Asian American voices — even while he didn’t bring any on Meet the Press

Two of the four network Sunday morning news shows failed to include Asian American voices yesterday when discussing the horrific mass shootings last week by a single suspect at two spas in the Atlanta area.

Eight people were killed in the shootings, seven of whom were women, six of them Asian American. The attacks also cast a new public light on the fact that there was a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2020, according to research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. The increase has been widely attributed to the usage of such terms as “China virus” and “kung flu” for COVID-19 by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd spoke to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who discussed his support for hate crimes laws and reform of gun laws. He noted the incongruity in the fact that the alleged shooter was able to purchase a gun on the same day as the killing spree, but Georgia citizens are not able to register and vote on the same day.

Then toward the very end of the program, Todd also discussed the story with a panel consisting of Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of African American studies at Princeton University; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; Nevada journalist Jon Ralston; and NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley.

“You know, the Asian American community has been talking about this for a year, basically, since the start of the pandemic,” Todd said. “And it really took the rest of sort of collective political intelligentsia to take notice, sadly, after the tragedy of this week.”

However, no Asian American voices were actually present for the discussion itself — even though Todd had just admitted that not enough elite media members had been listening to them.

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Citation From the March 21, 2021, edition of NBC News’ Meet the Press

Likewise, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace had a panel discussion featuring Fox News radio host Guy Benson, Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Catherine Lucey, and Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane.

During the discussion, Benson decried the notion that Trump’s rhetoric surrounding COVID-19 had led to crimes against Asian Americans and questioned “what the rules are in terms of what we're allowed to say or not say.”

Video file

Citation From the March 21, 2021, edition of Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Guy, you saw that clip of Vice President Harris at the top of the segment, and a -- I think it was pretty clear she was drawing a link between these attacks and President Trump, and especially his talk about the “China virus” and “kung flu.”

Do you think that's fair?

GUY BENSON (FOX NEWS RADIO HOST): I don't. I think that you're right to point out that we still don't have concrete evidence that this horrific massacre in Atlanta had anything to do with race. There were apparently other factors at play. We should gather facts, as Chuck said. We should also condemn unequivocally any violence or racism against any group of people. That should go without saying, but it needs to be said over and over again.

I do sort of wonder what the rules are in terms of what we're allowed to say or not say when describing where this virus originated. It was in Wuhan, China. We talked about the Brazilian variant. We talk about the U.K. variant. We talk about the South African variant. Talking about the Wuhan flu or the China virus, or what have you, I'm not sure if that's a direct line between that description and attacks on Asian people.

Of course, that should never happen. There's no excuse for it ever. I think this seems like a pretty cheap political shot.

The other two networks’ Sunday shows did feature Asian American voices, and Asian American women in particular, both of them elected officials at the national level.

ABC’s This Week had an interview with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, who bluntly explained why the killing spree is being viewed as a hate crime, despite the reticence of law enforcement officials to classify it in that manner: “This is a 21-year-old white male who chose, as his first victim, a business that was called Young's Asian Massage. Then he drove for 27 miles to another spot where he hit two more Asian spas.”

CBS’ Face the Nation hosted Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who said that crimes against Asian Americans are under-reported by authorities. “Now, if you're Asian American like me and my family, you know it happens on a regular basis,” she said. “But oftentimes these crimes just get reported in some other way. Or when you say, ‘Hey, I think it was race-motivated,’ it doesn't — the authorities don't pay attention to that and just reclassify them.”