During a Situation Room segment on Thursday, Wolf Blitzer led a discussion between CNN contributors Mary Matalin and Donna Brazile about controversial comments Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) made regarding the Tea Party. When Blitzer turned to Matalin for her opinion, seemingly apropos of nothing, Matalin brought up Glenn Beck and what she called his “astounding, remarkable series on the civil rights struggle in this country including black founding fathers.”
This set off a heated back-and-forth about Beck between Matalin and Brazile over the course of the 11-minute segment. When confronted about Beck's notorious comment that President Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people,” Matalin made a series of equivocating statements that mostly excused Beck's comment, saying he made it in the “context” of “a number of things that were in Barack Obama's background which hadn't been condemned, that Barack Obama didn't condemn.”
According to her CNN bio, Matalin is the editor-in-chief of Threshold Editions, an imprint of publisher Simon & Schuster. Threshold has published most, if not all, of Beck's recent books. In fact, it's publishing Beck's The Snow Angel next month.
That fact didn't come up as Matalin randomly injected Beck into the conversation on CNN.
Is Matalin concerned about the flagging profile of one of her most productive authors now that his Fox News show has ended and his rally in Israel was met with little fanfare?
An on-screen graphic during the segment did describe Matalin as the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster's “conservative imprint,” but there was no mention of its relationship with Beck:
Simon & Schuster announced in June that it was extending its deal with Beck's production company, Mercury Radio Arts, and that it will co-publish Mercury's new division Mercury Ink.
The release announcing the deal quoted Threshold's publisher lavishing praise on Beck:
“Publishing Glenn Beck is like winning the World Series, multiple times a year,” said Louise Burke, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Threshold Editions. “Whether it is full-length work of satirical nonfiction, a gripping political thriller, a short but sharp take on a current topical matter, nobody is more spot-on or knows better how to connect to his audience of millions of devoted readers. It's been a pleasure from the beginning and we look forward to even more successful publishing in the years to come.”
The confusing nature of Matalin's reference to Beck is clear in the context of the conversation. Here's Blitzer's first question to her, and her response:
BLITZER: Congressman Allen West, Mary, the Republican conservative from Florida -- a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the only Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus, he responded this way. I'll read to you what he said in a letter to the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus: “As chairman of the CBC, I believe it is incumbent on you to both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks. Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization.” Should he stay in that organization, you think, Mary -- Allen West?
MATALIN: Well, it's not representative of great American black leaders. You know, Glenn Beck did an astounding, remarkable series on the civil rights struggle in this country, including black founding fathers. And that congressman and Maxine Waters, who said all the Tea Party can go straight to hell, they are not in that great tradition, and they should be condemned. A huge attraction, a significant attraction, and this is quantified in the polls, to Barack Obama among white people was his promise to be post-racial. This is retro-racial, and not only should the CBC condemn it, the president should condemn it.
BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely not.
MATALIN: This is a moment for him to step up and say enough is enough.
After discussing Carson's comments, Brazile objected to Matalin bringing Beck into the discussion and said that Beck had “insulted the president” -- presumably talking about Beck calling Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” In response, Matalin claimed to not “even know what you're talking about, Donna,” and defended Beck as “the furthest thing from the racist” :
BRAZILE: And let me just say this about Glenn Beck. For Glenn Beck to somehow or another tell people of color or any Americans about racism, about blackness, about our founding fathers -- I'm sorry. Walk a day, walk a mile, but don't tell me anything when this -- when Glenn Beck also insulted the president.
MATALIN: You know what, Donna?
BRAZILE: He insulted the president of the United States.
MATALIN: Donna, Glenn -- Glenn Beck is not telling you or anyone anything other than the history. And there are many black commentators who have --
BRAZILE: He doesn't know my history. He does not know -- he does not know my history. Nor does he know the history -- he can read it, Mary. I know my history. But for Glenn Beck to lecture any person of color about history, when he made the uncivil comments about President Obama -- I am so sorry, Mary. I draw the line there. Look, my history is an American history. Your history is an American story. But what Glenn Beck has tried to do in this level of civility is not add to it, he's subtracted from it. So, I'm sorry. On Glenn Beck, we draw the line. You've been more civil than Glenn Beck.
MATALIN: Well, you can draw the line -- I'm not talking -- I don't even know what you're talking about, Donna, but I'm going to ask you this. Did you see any of his programs, did you watch any of his remarkable documentaries on the founding and the black founding fathers and the scholars that he had on and the scholarship that he did and the accolades that he received from the black community?
This -- you're making your point that you were disregarding earlier, which is, we're just judging people and saying things about people without even knowing who they are or what they've said. This is not a show about Glenn Beck, but he's the furthest thing from the racist, and I think why this -- we have to have this conversation is because what happens with Democrats and liberals, if you don't -- if you oppose their policies, then they brand you a racist.
Blitzer then challenged Matalin specifically on Beck's statement about Obama having a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Matalin first said that she wasn't “condoning that remark,” and then when pressed by Blitzer, said that she did “not condemn him for saying that” :
BLITZER: Wait a second, Mary, you remember when Glenn Beck said that President Obama has a deep-seated hatred of white people. You remember when he said that? Mary?
MATALIN: That was -- yes, I do remember that. And he was working off of --
BLITZER: So what does that have to do with -- is that a fact -- is that a factual statement?
MATALIN: Glenn Beck was -- put that in the context of a number of things that were in Barack Obama's background which hadn't been condemned, that Barack Obama didn't condemn. I'm not condoning that remark. I'm making a larger point that Glenn Beck is not a racist.
BLITZER: Well, forget about condoning. Are you condemning -- Mary, are you condemning that remark?
MATALIN: I do not think that Barack Obama has any deep-seated hatred for anybody. I think that --
BLITZER: So you condemn Glenn Beck for saying that?
MATALIN: But I do think --
BLITZER: Is that right?
MATALIN: I'm -- no, I do not condemn -- I do not condemn him for saying that, because he said it in the context of things that -- remarks just like this, that this president who promised us to be post-racial -- that's what he ran on, that's how he garnered a fair and goodly number of vote -- has not lived up to that promise.
Later, when Blitzer told Matalin that he couldn't understand why she wouldn't condemn Beck's statement, Matalin responded that she “condemn[s] it in a vacuum like that, but in the context of the church that he attended and did not disavow for 20 years until he was running for president, which wrongly, weekly, in the most vicious and racist language condemned whites, that's the context Mr. Beck that was speaking about” :
BLITZER: But it's beyond stupid, Mary, it's beyond stupid when Glenn Beck says that the president of the United States has a deep-seated hatred for white people. And his mother, as you know -- she's passed away -- was white, his grandparents who raised him was white. That is an outrageous statement. I don't understand why you can't condemn that.
MATALIN: I condemn it in a vacuum like that, but in the context of the church that he attended and did not disavow for 20 years until he was running for president, which wrongly, weekly, in the most vicious and racist language condemned whites, that's the context Mr. Beck that was speaking about. But Mr. Beck, by the way, is not a sitting member of Congress. I'm going to agree with Donna, my dear friend, that somebody's going to say something stupid every week, but when you disagree with a policy, that is no grounds to call the policymaker a racist, a homophobe or misogynist or any ad hominem, disgusting, despicable attack like that. And not only did this president run as post-racial, he ran as post-partisan, so I do think this is an opportunity for him to step in.