msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell took issue Monday with guest host of The O'Reilly Factor Laura Ingraham's recent characterization of Rachel Jenteal, a key witness in the George Zimmerman trial. Last week, Ingraham criticized defenders of Jenteal for excusing "her poor manners, her disrespectful language and cocky ignorance."
"Left-wing elites fall all over themselves to avoid criticizing behavior among blacks they would never tolerate from most upper crust white kids, like the use of the N word or the F word or the C word," said Ingraham, adding: "This is an example of what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called 'the soft bigotry of low expectations.' Everyone from Tom Sowell to Bill Cosby have pointed out that when we set a low bar for people, they never end up rising above it."
In his Rewrite segment Monday, O'Donnell asked, "What is an upper crust white kid?"
"Laura Ingraham really thinks upper crust white kids don't use the F word?" said O'Donnell. "Really? Does that mean that lower crust white kids do? And middle crust white kids do? And do they use such horrible language because we have low expectations for non upper crust white kids? Are lower crust white kids also the victims of the soft bigotry of low expectations?"
Ingraham attributed the well-known phrase, "the soft bigotry of low expectations," to former Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York. But the phrase belongs to President George W. Bush, from a campaign speech he gave to the NAACP in July, 2000:
"I will confront another form of bias: the soft bigotry of low expectations...Equality in our country will remain a distant dream until every child, of every background, learns so that he or she may strive and rise in this world. No child in America should be segregated by low expectations, imprisoned by illiteracy, abandoned to frustration and the darkness of self-doubt."
"How could [Ingraham] get that so wrong?" said O'Donnell. "How could she attribute that very famous line to anyone but George W. Bush or Michael Gerson, the speechwriter who has publicly claimed credit for putting those words in President Bush's mouth?...Being wildly wrong on facts is not a problem for the Factor because when it comes to getting the facts right, the Factor audience has learned to have very low expectations."