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An OpenLetter to the Hosts at MSNBC

April 25, 2008

Dear Hardball, Countdown, Verdict, etal,

As a long time viewer of your programs – of which I have at times
staunchly championed as the best political news commentary programs on
cable or network television – I find myself incensed by the recent and
constant sensational brand of political journalism you have hoisted
upon we your viewers.  Many times I am dismayed by the lack of
substance in the debate you present – many of you trot guest after
guest out to talk about the most frivolously mundane wedge issues, and
frankly I find it disturbing, and has led me to believe that
"journalism" is the least of your desires.

The question may rightly be asked, why, if I so question the merits of
your reporting do I watch? The honest and easy answer is, I find your
presentation the freshest. However, I have begun to believe that your
motivation has been skewed. Many of your hosts act as provocateurs
rather than moderators of "honest" political discourse – many times
covering their provocation under the guise of "tough" or "hard"
questioning. That said, please indulge and take the following criticism
and observation constructively:

  • Your station has ventured into a consistently unbalanced
    exploration into "character issues", which I decry as "wedge" talking
    points.
If I may expand, it is amazing the
degree of legs your programs have given topics, such as, the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright’s sermons and Sen. Obama’s "bitter" comments.  It is
further galling that you would pro port these issues, but today on
Hardball, Mr. Matthews went further.  Not only discussing the issue ad
nausea, but  in essence closing the matter for us all by saying, and I
quote:

"I don’t want to hear his (Rev. Wright) explanation.  I don’t know if anyone wants them.  There are no explanations."


Besides being an overt attempt at marginalizing an
African-American, who has been a prominent member of his community for
decades, the idea that Rev. Wright’s perspective on his much ballyhooed
comments is not required is the height of hubris. Unfortunately, it has
become apparent why Rev. Wright’s sermons have become such an important
news story.  He is the "radical" black pastor, of the first front running black Presidential candidate.

Please understand that I have not come to this conclusion reflexively.
No, on the contrary, I am quite sober with my prognosis.  It is
evident.  It is evidenced by the heavy handed and condemnatory handling
of Sen. Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright and his church (Trinity
United), and the perfunctory attention you have given to the spiritual
relations of the other two remaining Presidential hopefuls.  As a man
of the cloth myself, it is hard for me to draw other conclusions than
this when there are offenders of the nations conscience like the Pastor
John Hagee (a noted anti-catholic and anti-Muslim fire and brimstone
preacher), and Pastor Rod Parsley (who openly desires that America
operate as a theocracy and destroy all Muslim nations, who already are
bound for hell). No where in the scripture or the American constitution
do I find such sentiments appropriated. In fact I would go so far as to
call them un-American statements, anti-Christian and having no place in
the public discourse – if your following, this sounds eerily familiar
to the remarks being bandied about  Rev. Wright.

I ask you, are we (the viewers) to accept your genuine well-meaning and
discount any notion of race baiting? I think not.  Race is critical
here.  It is the only plain evidence of difference between these
players, it is Sen. Obama who must continually fend off the requests to
denounce and reject his former pastor, not John McCain. Further, I must
now call into question the veracity of your organization to be "honest
agents" of communication, for you yourselves exhibit the same level of
wink and nod attitude amongst your own.  I speak of course of the
ubiquitous Pat Buchanan – a bona fide race baiter, who recently wrote
in his syndicated column:

"America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known."

 

This is racism at its most under-tone level.  It is the
same kind of denial that has caused the thoughts of the nature of race
relations in America to be so divergent.  But have I heard any apology
from your station for associated itself with someone who champions are
countries "original sin"? No.  In fact, Buchanan hasn’t even been
reprimanded – as was Don Imus.

It has been said, that to be black in America means to constantly fight
against being under estimated , under valued and marginalized.  Today,
that statement is ever more true.  I implore you to restore a level of
professional decency to your stations presentation.  I implore you to
forsake the sensational and provocative form of journalism you have
been displaying and again act as the fourth agency of our democracy.

Respectfully,


Rev. Rafiu A. Bakare Jr.
Citizen

If you would like to express yourself to MSNBC, below are the email addresses I used for this letter.

hardball@msnbc.com
viewerservices@msnbc.com
letters@msnbc.com
countdown@msnbc.com
KOlbermann@msnbc.com
dabrams@msnbc.com

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