Karen Finney and MSNBC Slander Conservatives with Martin Killing

Former DNC spokesperson Karen Finney has been leading the effort at MSNBC to turn the Trayvon Martin shooting into a political story implicating conservatives. It began with her smear of Rush Limbaugh and GOP presidential candidates while filling in as host of the Martin Bashir show:
So, when Newt Gingrich, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says that, quote, "really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. They have no habit of I do this and you give me cash, unless it's illegal," or Rick Santorum says, "I don't want to make black people's lives easier," or Rush Limbaugh calls a presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama a magic negro, or Mitt Romney says nothing at all, the effect is dangerous because they reinforce and validate old stereotypes that associate the poor and welfare as criminal behavior with African-Americans and people of color, calling us lazy, undeserving recipients of public assistance. In the case of Trayvon, those festering stereotypes had lethal consequences.
There are numerous problems with Finney's litany of complaints against the right. Newt Gingrich never singled out a particular race in his comments; rather he was focused on a class, "really poor children" a class that could involve children of any race. 

As for Rick Santorum, the quote Finney uses to smear him is false, as I noted here two months ago. Santorum never said "I don't want to make black people's lives easier." He mangled a word in the midst of a sentence which CBS and others falsely reported as "black." Listen closely to the clip, and you find he did not say the word "black" at all. 

Rush Limbaugh did use the term "magic negro," but it didn't originate with him. The phrase came from an LA Times column published in 2007. 

Finally, Mitt Romney did comment on the Trayvon case just hours after President Obama weighed in yesterday. Given that this case is a month old, a few hours doesn't seem like enough of a difference to insinuate some kind of racial motive on Romney's part. 

In short, all of Finney's complaints are either false or misleading in various ways. Beyond the specifics, Finney is making a long and irresponsible leap from a handful of (misleading) statements spanning five years to the killing of a young man in Florida. Finney is presuming a motive in this case when, in reality, we still don't know exactly what happened that night. 

Indeed, there is new information today from an eyewitness, backed up by a police report, which suggests the circumstances that led to the shooting are more nuanced than they first appeared. Finney also appeared as a guest on another MSNBC show Friday. In this case, she once again made a leap from assumptions about the Trayvon case to an indictment of the NRA and "Republican governors and legislatures":

You know so you can put a graphic on over those states [with stand your ground self-defense laws] and then many of them line up with a lot of the very dramatic extreme things we've been seeing passed in the states by Republican-controlled governors and legislatures.
No one who has looked at this believes "stand your ground" laws would allow an armed man to stalk an unarmed man, shoot him, and then claim self-defense. 

The left has a bad habit of assigning political blame in the wake of tragedies long before the facts become clear. We saw the same thing after the Tucson shooting. In that case it was only a few hours before Paul Krugman and others had placed the killings at the feet of Sarah Palin. When the facts finally came out, we learned that Jared Loughner was an apolitical schizophrenic whose only known affiliation was to the left-wing Zeitgeist movement. Karen Finney apparently didn't learn any lessons from that experience. Or perhaps she learned the lesson that smear tactics work, all too often.


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