Legendary sportscaster and political lightning rod Bob Costas has apparenly tired of only getting hate mail from right-wingers, because on Saturday morning’s Up with Steve Kornacki, he blew a big wet kiss to all of the conservatives who think that MSNBC hosts are the real racists for always blaming racist things on racism. Costas, who has become a boogeyman to the right for daring to comment on things like gun culture and the Washington Redskins’ name, seemed anxious to balance the scales this morning by equating liberal narratives on race with conservative gun lunacy, and calling on MSNBC personalities to stop blaming everything that happens to black people on white racism.
In discussing the Donald Sterling controversy, Costas sowed the seeds of his declaration by (correctly) declaring the issue “low-hanging fruit,” but also adding that “when people say, ‘Well, this is an opportunity to open up a dialogue on race,’ here is where I think some people who work in this building ought to step up and say that’s a bunch of politically correct BS.”
Costas said that “What people really want is a chance to repeat the same narrative,” rather than talk about “less comfortable truths” about race relations. What those “less comfortable truths” are is anyone’s guess, but he hinted at them a minute later. After drawing comparisons between Nixon going to China and some hypothetical conservative being sane about guns, Costas told Kornacki that even though the “narrative” of racist oppression of black people is, historically, “the overriding truth” and “the single greatest stain on our national history,”someone at MSNBC would have to be the left’s Nixon, and point out that “that narrative is much more complex now, and some of the issues that are afflicting black America are not the result of white racism.“
“That’s a politically incorrect thing to say, that somebody in this studio needs to say.”
In MSNBC’s defense, though, they did make sure there was a white host handy to talk with the white guest about what’s happening with black people, so Kornacki never circled back to ask Costas which “uncomfortable truths” he was talking about. To the aggrieved white folks at The Daily Caller, who are likely polishing this clip up as we speak, that sounds like the “truths” told by the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Don Lemon, and George Zimmerman’s lawyer, that if black people would pull their pants up, have some in-wedlock babies, and stop murdering each other, everything would be hunky-dory. These are views which have also found voice in more mainstream form.
But even the most charitable interpretation of Costas’ remarks, that perhaps the black community should, for example, focus more on getting photo identification than blaming racism for voter suppression laws, or address epidemics of crime from within, regardless of their origins in our racist history, ignores two crucial facts: they are already doing that, and racism isn’t just history. Costas is, at best, promoting the fiction that there is some sort of campaign, at MSNBC and elsewhere, to exaggerate the effect and scope of racism, when the reality is that every corner of the white media is invested in downplaying it.
It is to MSNBC’s credit that they have covered voter suppression laws to the extent that they have, and that coverage has included many an activist urging disenfranchised communities to make every effort to get out and vote in spite of, and because of, these efforts. The same is true of so-called “black-on-black crime,” a favorite hobby horse of the right when it suits their purposes. MSNBC has covered things like the murder rate in Chicago, but unlike others, has also covered efforts within the black community to reduce gun violence in urban areas that are surrounded by a sea of guns that can be bought without restriction.
To balance that all out, of course, MSNBC also devotes three hours a day to the whitest block of programming since they began televising the Winter Olympics, and brings on people like Bob Costas to tell everyone to quit blaming Whitey for everything.