An MSNBC panel devolved into a shouting match on Wednesday as commentators argued about whether White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s remarks scolding a black female reporter for shaking her head were racist and sexist.
“I think it was offensive, I think it was inappropriate, I think it was racist and I think it was sexist,” political analyst Jason Johnson told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing.
American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan asked Spicer during his daily briefing on Tuesday about how President Donald Trump’s administration plans to “try to revamp its image” amid congressional investigations, rampant leaks, media reports and self-inflicted wounds by way of Trump’s tweeting.
In response, Spicer accused Ryan of having an “agenda” and told her to “at some point report the facts.”
“Every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion, Republican, Democrat, so I’m sorry that that disgusts you. You’re shaking your head,” Spicer said. “At some point, April, you’re going to have to take no for an answer with respect to whether or not there is collusion.”
“The rhetoric and the behavior of this administration from top to bottom has demonstrated a lack of respect and a lack of consideration for people of color,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “I’m not surprised and this seems par for the course for how they’ve operated.”
“I think it’s sad. I think this is not going to help our country,” American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp said.
He called Ryan a “friend” and said he has “deep respect” for her, but claimed that Spicer “allows her to ask multiple questions at every briefing.”
“I think that was a moment where he pushed back and got feisty with a reporter who he has a very good rapport with on most days,” Schlapp said. “This is not racism.”
“You don’t get to tell other people what racism is,” Johnson, who is black, interrupted.
“You don’t either!” Schlapp hit back.
“Yes I do,” Johnson said. “Because you don’t experience it!”
“You don’t know what’s in Sean’s heart!” Schlapp replied.
Jansing tried to cut in. “OK,” she said. “Let’s bring it down a little bit.”
They did not. Watch the entire exchange below: