'Meet The Press' is taking heat for a video the program aired about gun violence.
In the wake of the Charleston church shooting, host Chuck Todd introduced a video on Sunday morning featuring testimonies of convicted murderers, calling the issue "color-blind." Inmates at New York's Sing Sing Correctional Facility opened up about the regret they had after using guns. However, only black prisoners were shown.
The homogeneous racial makeup of the video struck some viewers as inappropriate, especially given the apparently racially-motivated killings by a white man this week of 9 black victims at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
'Meet The Press' panelist and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson pointed out the apparent disconnect.
"I thought that was a very powerful piece," he said. "One small thing I would mention, because I haven't seen the whole piece, is there wasn't a terribly diverse set of people who were talking. Right now, we're talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man. We're talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men. So, we should point out that this is not just an African-American problem."
Todd responded that "it wasn't intended to be that way."
Users on social media also expressed frustration with the perceived tone-deafness of the video:
Later in the show, a 'Meet The Press' panel addressed the pushback to the video, with Todd remarking that the topic of gun violence "wasn't meant to be a black and white issue." Todd also spoke out in a post on the show's website. He said:
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.
But the last thing we wanted was to cloud the discussion of the topic.
The original decision to air this segment was made before Wednesday's massacre. However, the staff and I had an internal debate about whether to show it at all this week. When we discussed putting it off, that conversation centered around race and perception - not the conversation we wanted the segment to invoke.
We decided against delaying the segment because we wanted to show multiple sides of what gun violence does in this country. We thought the issue of gun violence in our culture and society was an important conversation to continue -- too important to put off for another week. The consequences of gun violence should not be hidden.
As I say to all audiences, Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job. I hope folks view the gun video as a part of the conversation we should all be having and not the totality of it.
The gun violence video aired by 'Meet The Press' can be seen at the top of this entry (via RawStory).