Watch Journalism Professor Jason Johnson Shut Down A Conservative's Defense Of Spicer: “You Don't Get To Tell Other People What Racism Is”

From the March 29 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle:

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CHRIS JANSING (HOST): And let's give Sean Spicer his say. He was on The Hugh Hewitt Show this morning. Here's his response to the criticism.


SEAN SPICER: That's what we do, we go back and forth. And I don't treat one person different than the next. To suggest that somehow because of her gender or race that she'd be treated differently, I think is, frankly, demeaning to her.


JANSING: Jason, does he have a point about that?

JASON JOHNSON: No, I don't believe him. I think it was offensive, I think it was inappropriate, I think it was racist, and I think it was sexist. I also have to remember -- but we also have to remember that this was the same Sean Spicer who was caught on camera when he was being annoyed by a local woman at a local mall and said, “You're lucky that you still get to be in this country,” he said this to a Latina woman, so it's not like this is completely bizarre to think this is the case. We also have to remember that the rhetoric and behavior of this administration, from top to bottom, has demonstrated a lack of respect and a lack of consideration for people of color. I'm not surprised and this seems par for the course for how they've operated.

MATT SCHLAPP: I think it's sad. I think this is not going to help our country. I don't think Sean Spicer’s lying. I watch this press briefing every day, and by the way there's a lot of highlights. And he allows April --

JANSING: There's a lot going on.

SCHLAPP: -- who's a friend of mine, I have deep respect for April. He allows her to ask multiple questions at every briefing. I thought that was too feisty and I don't think the feistiness in the press briefings is actually that helpful. But I don't think there was any ill intent or disrespect. I think what you're seeing is a press secretary that's dealing with a lot of news every day, all at once, and there's a lot to deal with, and I think that was a moment where he pushed back and got feisty with a reporter who he has a very good rapport with on most days. This is not racism, this is not --

JANSING: So I want to walk a fine line because -- I spent years sitting in that briefing room.

JOHNSON: You don't get to tell other people what racism is.

SCHLAPP: You don't either.

JOHNSON: Yes I do.

SCHLAPP: No you don't.

JOHNSON: Becayse you don't experience it -- and this has nothing to do --

JANSING: OK, let's bring it down a little bit.


JOHNSON: You just raised your voice at someone who is simply disagreeing with you. You have interrupted me throughout this entire exchange and rather than speaking respectfully and considerately, you raise your voice at me because you're uncomfortable.

SCHLAPP: Don't quiet me.

JOHNSON: You are uncomfortable at being spoken to by someone who doesn't agree with you.


JANSING: Gentlemen. Gentlemen. Gentlemen. Gentlemen. Gentlemen.

SCHLAPP: Thank you.

JANSING: But finish your thought and then I'd like you to respond.

JOHNSON: My thought is this is the exact kind of aggression and lack of respect that we're talking about. And it goes beyond Sean Spicer. It goes to President Trump, it goes to Steve Bannon, who runs an alt-right website. We're talking about having civil conversations in Congress and the moment that someone who's African-American demonstrates a matter of integrity or intent or strength that makes somebody uncomfortable -- if they have some issue with that -- and you keep interrupting me.


SCHLAPP: I don't care what color you are, and I have respect for you.

JOHNSON: I care what color you are because it's important because our differences are also part of this country. Can we count how many times you have interrupted me beforehand and then you yelled at me? Please continue but let's make sure we don't lose that point.

SCHLAPP: Do I get some time?

JOHNSON: Yes you do, now, after having interrupted me, consistently.

JANSING: Go ahead.

SCHLAPP: That's great, OK. It's great to be here. That's really great respect.

JOHNSON: Yes it is. On you.

SCHLAPP: Let me just say this, which is as the country has to deal with these really meddlesome issues, I don't think it helps to immediately jump to the charge of racism, misogyny. Many of us were called “deplorables” in the last campaign. The ideas is this. Let's go to the issues at hand. I thought April's question was very, very respectful, and I think it's legitimate, OK?


SCHLAPP: And I think she deserves an answer for that question. I think the feistiness sometimes, the feistiness we just demonstrated to the American people, I think sometimes it doesn't help. OK, we ought to be honest. You have your viewpoint, I have my viewpoint. You want to lay it on me, that's fine. But the fact is this. Let's get down to the issues.

JANSING: And you're not denying feistiness of your own?

SCHLAPP: Yeah, of course, I'm a feisty person. I assume that's one of the reasons why you invite me here. But the -- I think by the same token is that if we just get to calling each other the names, we don't get to the resolution and the consensus. I think our country's in a bad place because people like me are constantly shouted down for being racist, misogynist, hate this person, hate that person. Believe it or not, we might just have political differences, and it might not be about race at all.


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