Harris-Perry: Allen West and others ‘go over the boundary’ in speeches to get free media

Updated
By Jordan Michael Smith

How the media covered Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) “slavery” remarks shows why politicians use such overheated rhetoric in the first place, Melissa Harris-Perry argued on Sunday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. During a campaign speech last week, West said that President Obama would “rather you be his slave and be economically dependent upon him.”

West’s remarks, Harris Perry said, were an example of how “politicians use words that are supposed to kind of go over the boundary a little bit, in part to get free media coverage or to dog whistle to other communities.”

“Whose fault is that?” replied former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. “It’s ours,” meaning the news media. “We give these stupid statements all this coverage.”

msnbc contributor Ari Melber argued that the coverage of West’s comments was in part a function of his position. Certain right-wing ideologues in the public sphere should be ignored, he said, but with elected officials like West the issue becomes more complicated. ”If it’s someone who really doesn’t matter much—the right-wing radio hosts who get entirely too much attention and are in the business of generation attention for themselves—the saying online is, ‘Don’t feed the trolls,’” Melber said.

He went on: “The other side is Congressman Allen West, who is not a right-wing radio host, and is not selling a media product, and should not be,” said Melber. “So he speaks with the authority of the voters who have chosen him and may choose him again, right? But in the media we do have an obligation to deal with that, because he’s not just making a business.”

Allen West

Harris-Perry: Allen West and others 'go over the boundary' in speeches to get free media

Updated