MSNBC Devotes 16 Minutes of Coverage to 'Indefensible, ' 'Racist' Redskins 'Slur'
With all the important things going on in the world, MSNBC on Tuesday chose to devote 16 minutes of coverage over four shows to the "indefensible," "racist" "slur" that is the Washington Redskins logo. The fight to force team owner Dan Snyder to change the name came up on Morning Joe, The Reid Report, All In With Chris Hayes and The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell.
Hayes began his coverage by sneering, "Dan Snyder is the owner of the NFL's Washington, D.C. football team, whose name might be the last racial slur you can get away with saying at work." The host cited NBC colleague Bob Costas's 2013 rant as proof of a groundswell, adding, "With this kind of pressure building against it, it is getting harder and harder for Dan Snyder to defend the team's name, to defend what is really indefensible." [MP3 audio here.]
This week, Snyder announced a foundation supporting Native Americans. The move prompted seven minutes and 19 seconds of coverage on All In. Last Word featured the story for four minutes and 16 seconds. The Reid Report offered three minutes. Morning Joe briefly discussed it for 35 seconds.
According to Hayes, Snyder "announced this initiative yesterday on letterhead emblazoned with his team's racist name."
The MSNBC anchor recounted going to a game and being shocked at the lack of outrage:
HAYES: I actually was in FedEx field for a football game, and it didn't strike me that that sense of discomfort with the name of the team and what that name indicates and how offensive it is to people, that that had seeped into at all the fan base.
Perhaps the reason for this could be that, outside of the MSNBC bubble, Americans don't find it to be offensive. According to a 2014 Public Policy Polling survey, Seventy one percent of Americans don't think the team should change its name.
In 2004, An Annenberg survey asked Native Americans if they found the name offensive. Ninety percent said no.
On Last Word, O'Donnell mostly avoided using the actual name, referring to the "Washington NFL team." He mocked:
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Let me take this opportunity to prove to Dan Snyder that it's a racial epithet. And that's his own statement. He refuses to use it in his statement. He says, as I just read, "The more I've heard and the more I've learned and the more I saw, the more I've resolved, I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community." He did not say the challenges that plague the Redskin community.
A partial transcript of the Chris Hayes All In segment is below:
HAYES: Dan Snyder is the owner of the NFL's Washington, D.C., football team whose name might be the last racial slur you can get away with saying at work. It`s so offensive the sports reporters and columnists from "Sports Illustrated," "The San Francisco Chronicle," "The Kansas City Star," "USA Today" and "The Philadelphia Daily News" have pledged not to use it. Last fall, my NBC colleague Bob Costas did a really great job of explaining just why it`s so offensive.
BOB COSTAS: Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, Redskins can`t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It`s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.
HAYES: With this kind of pressure building against it, it is getting harder and harder for Dan Snyder to defend the team's name, to defend what is really indefensible. Now, there's a very simple solution to Snyder's problem. He could just change the name of his team. And, sure, adopting a new name would be a headache and would surely cost the team some money. But it's hard to imagine the cost of a name change being all that painful to a franchise that, according to Forbes, is worth $1.7 billion. But Dan Snyder will not change his team's very offensive name, famously telling "USA Today" last year -- quote -- "We will never change the name. It's that simple. Never. You can use caps." Instead, Snyder has decided to launch a foundation whose mission is to -- quote -- "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for tribal communities." And because Snyder is so serious about the importance of this cause, he announced this initiative yesterday on letterhead emblazoned with his team's racist name. Suzan Shown Harjo, an American Indian activist and opponent of the team's name, told the Associated Press Snyder's move was -- quote -- "somewhere between a P.R. assault and bribery." Joining me now to discuss this, former NFL player Roman Oben. He's now part of the New York Giants' broadcasting, and writer Dave McKenna, who wrote a column in 2010, about Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington, D.C., football team. Snyder sued the paper over it. The suit was later dropped. All right, Dave, I will begin with you. Why won't he change the name? What is it here? Is it tradition? Is it just money? What's the deal?
HAYES: Do you think that's going to happen with the fans, though, as someone who's a lifelong fan? I remember going to -- I actually was in FedEx field for a football game, and it didn't strike me that that sense of discomfort with the name of the team and what that name indicates and how offensive it is to people, that that had seeped into at all the fan base.
ROMAN OBEN (former NFL player): No, and, again, going back to brand equity, going back to Daniel Snyder standing behind this 81-year tradition of the Washington Redskins, it hasn't hurt his pockets.
People aren't giving up their suites or their luxury boxes. It hasn't affected Dan Snyder negatively. You're talking about a $1.7 billion franchise. The franchise would be probably worth a lot more if he did go through this -- I mean, I'm sure marketing people would have fun with this new name change and reorganization. But, again, you back to the foundation. The activists are saying, don't throw money at the problem.
— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.