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NBC: Skittles Has Become 'A Symbol of Racial Injustice'

Filling in for Matt Lauer on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Hoda Kotb made a bizarre proclamation about race relations in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting: "Skittles obviously has become really kind of a symbol in the whole Trayvon Martin case. A symbol of racial injustice. You see people holding up the bags of Skittles in their hands and it clearly means something." [Listen to the audio]

Kotb made the comment to advertising executive Donny Deutsch during a segment about how the candy maker should deal with new attention to the brand caused by the fact that Martin happened to have a bag of Skittles on him when he was shot.  Surprisingly, Deutsch was actually the voice of reason in the exchange: "If you're Skittles point of view, you put your head down and you wait for it to go away."

Kotb pushed back on Deutsch's advice, as she wondered: "...let's pretend a story comes up tomorrow that says Skittles profits have gone up 10% because of this Trayvon Martin case. In that case, what should Skittles do?" Deutsch insisted: "Exactly the same thing. Put your head down, let it pass." Kotb pressed: "But does it look like you're sort of banking on this kind of thing? And should you take that 10% and say, 'We're going to give all the profits we got to this cause'?"

Kotb seemed to be channeling left-wing MSNBC contributor Toure, who in a rambling Twitter exchange on Thursday argued that Skittles was "profiting from what's essentially blood money."

Toure cited a Wednesday New York Times article that started the absurd meme, entitled: "For Skittles, Death Brings Both Profit and Risk."

Here is a full transcript of Kotb's March 30 exchange with Deutsch:

8:44AM ET

HODA KOTB: Back now at 8:44 with Behind the Brand with our friend Donny Deutsch. Which ads and promotional campaigns are making the grade? And which ones could use some improvement?...

Alright, next up, let's talk Skittles. Skittles obviously has become really kind of a symbol in the whole Trayvon Martin case. A symbol of racial injustice. You see people holding up the bags of Skittles in their hands and it clearly means something. Now let's take it from Skittles' point of view. How do you look at this? How do you see it?

DONNY DEUTSCH: If you're Skittles point of view, you put your head down and you wait for it to go away. The worst thing that they could do is some people go, "Oh, they should get involved and donate to charity and become..." – you don't want to do it for two reasons. Number one, you keep getting associated with this horrific incident. Number two, you could look exploitive. This happens to brands, but I promise you they will do nothing. Just let Mr. Skittles – let it pass.

KOTB: Let me ask you this, let's pretend a story comes up tomorrow that says Skittles profits have gone up 10% because of this Trayvon Martin case. In that case, what should Skittles do?

DEUTSCH: Exactly the same thing. Put your head down, let it pass. Because you don't want good attention – what does that say? That all – what are you going to do with that, start marketing to potential killers? What are you going to do? I mean, it's just – there's nothing to do with it.

KOTB: But does it look like you're sort of banking on this kind of thing? And should you take that 10% and say, "We're going to give all the profits we got to this cause"?

DEUTSCH: You know, that – even then, I think that looks exploitive. Look, that's going to pass.

KOTB: Okay.

DEUTSCH: What I'm saying, in a situation like this, when you're a brand and there's something so terrible like this that gets associated with you, you don't touch it, you wait for it to pass.

KOTB: Got it. Grade them, what do you give them?

DEUTSCH: I – you know, as far as what they've done so far, I've got to give them a "B+."

KOTB: Okay.

DEUTSCH: Because we'll see what happens, but yeah.

(...)

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.