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MSNBCs Jason Johnson Lumps Clarence Thomas with White Racist Lynchers

On Tuesday’s Deadline: White House, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was dragged into a discussion of President Trump tweeting the word “lynching” to describe the Democratic impeachment drive. MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson tied conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Republicans to the white supremacists who murdered blacks during the Jim Crow era in the South.

This in spite of the fact that the perpetrators were typically Democrats, while white Republicans were sometimes targeted for trying to register blacks to vote.

At 4:54 p.m. Eastern, when host Nicolle Wallace asked Johnson — politics editor of The Root — for his reaction to President Trump’s choice of words, it didn’t take long for him to attack Justice Thomas as he declared:

I’m not surprised. This is what the President does, but I think, in the grander scheme of things, I’m old enough to remember when we had a Supreme Court justice who referred to him being asked questions, Clarence Thomas, as the “high-tech lynching of an uppity black man.”

It’s always been fascinating to me that Republican parties and the far right in this country who were primarily responsible for massive domestic terrorism and lynching of black people in this country purely for the fact that we were trying to vote are always the first people to invoke that imagery when they are being held accountable for their behavior.

For those who aren’t “old enough to remember,” Thomas didn’t compare “being asked questions” with lynching. He went through some tough confirmation hearings…and then Anita Hill came forward and smeared him with unsubstantiated allegations of sexual harassment, aiming to get his nomination to the high court defeated. The “high-tech lynching” was the use of character assassination, implying Thomas was too abusive of women in the office to deserve confirmation.

Johnson also complained about the reaction of another black Republican, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

But I also want to add somebody besides Lindsey Graham to the list of people who should be ashamed of themselves. Tim Scott, senator from South Carolina, came forward and said maybe not lynching, but it’s a death row. No! This has nothing to do with death. The only people dying are kids on the border and Kurds right now, because of the president. This president is being held accountable by the Constitution he refuses to follow for his own bad behavior. And using this sort of red herring of racial animus in order to activate his side, is not going to distract us from holding this president accountable. It’s disgusting and typical. We’re not going to fall for it in the media or American citizens this time. 

This is actually what Senator Scott said, using metaphors: “There’s no question that the impeachment process is the closet thing to a political death row trial, so I get his absolute rejection of the process. I wouldn’t use the word lynching.”

Wallace asked if the media made a “mistake,” that they should have just skipped covering the “lynching” tweet. Johnson said no, but it distracted from William Taylor’s testimony….or the leaked version of it, since no one could see or hear it. 

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Tuesday, October 22, Deadline: White House on MSNBC:

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I’m not surprised. This is what the President does, but I think, in the grander scheme of things, I’m old enough to remember when we had a Supreme Court justice who referred to him being asked questions, Clarence Thomas, as the “high-tech lynching of an uppity black man.” It’s always been fascinating to me that Republican parties and the far right in this country who were primarily responsible for massive domestic terrorism and lynching of black people in this country purely for the fact that we were trying to vote are always the first people to invoke that imagery when they are being held accountable for their behavior.

But I also want to add someone other Lindsay Graham to the list of people who should be ashamed of themselves. Tim Scott — Senator from South Carolina — came forward and said, ‘Well, you know, maybe not lynching, but it’s a death row.” No. This has nothing to do with death. The only people who are dying are kids on the border and Kurds right now because of this President. This President is being held accountable by the Constitution that he refuses to follow for his own bad behavior.

And using this sort of red herring of racial animus to activate his side is not going to distract us from holing this President accountable. It’s disgusting, and it’s typical, but we’re not going to fall for it in the media or the American citizens this time.

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