Who knows what possessed Chuck Todd and his production staff on Meet The Press to air a video about Black convicted murderers in New York’s infamous Sing Sing prison as part of a show focusing on the Emanuel AME church massacre but the backlash was swift. Not only is Todd trending on Twitter and apparently using his Block option to ward off critics of the segment, but many are asking for him to be fired.
The problems started when Todd, the host of Meet the Press, and a longtime media insider and former White House correspondent introduced a segment on black murderers as part of overall coverage on the Emanuel AME church massacre. Todd said that one of his producers had conceived of and shot the segment on his own, but that it was relevant to a “color-blind” conversation on gun violence. In the clip, Black convicted murderers who’d killed with guns were asked to talk to their 12-year-old selves to consider what they could have changed before they committed murder.
Twitter and even comments on the video on YouTube were swift, condemning Todd and Meet The Press for what many saw as a racially charged segment. Guest Eugene Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post, quickly mentioned that the selection of remorseful murderers was not racially diverse and Todd replied that the choice of subjects wasn’t meant to confer that only Black men commit murder.
But the public didn’t see it that way. They saw it as another media misstep in placing the sole blame for gun violence in America at Black men’s feet, instead of focusing on the massacre of 9 Black people in a church by a white man who said he committed the murders specifically because they were Black.
Todd noted the backlash and issued a statement:
We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about the gun video we showed on Meet the Press today. Some were upset it only featured African-American men talking about their regrets of pulling a trigger. All of the men in the piece volunteered to be a part of the video and the larger project it is a part of.