MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry promises her viewers a thoughtful, tightly prepared program with a lot of smart guests. And sometimes a bit of kookiness, too, as she displayed earlier this fall in caveat-ing the use of the term “hard worker.”
Both ends of the Harris-Perry programming spectrum were on display on Saturday’s program, as the host welcomed guests to discuss the country’s response to the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre. Dead-on analysis from Harris-Perry targeted the “frenzy” that follows these mass shootings and acts of terrorism — a frenzy that leads to bad decisions like invading countries and “some of the decision-making by the media yesterday,” a clear reference to reporters’ romp in the apartment of suspects Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, an incident in which MSNBC’s crossing of journalistic lines was widely denounced. Good on Harris-Perry for highlighting that.
Guest Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York continued with some media criticism of her own, saying she was “extremely disturbed” with a certain prominent news outlet. “I look at the New York Times cover today — here you have a whole op-ed on gun control. Great. Right next to it is pictures from the apartment of things that I have in my house. These are things that all Muslims had their house. There’s nothing about that that tells you a story about what terrorism looks like. So you’re telling me that when my friends who are not Muslim come into my home and see a Koran on see frames on the wall with a scripture from my religion, is that supposed to tell you something? I mean, it’s absolutely outrageous.”
Harris-Perry signaled her assent with a strong “Yes.”
Then she went further: “That image, and also right next to it an image of the shooting suspect there in hijab. And the idea that, okay, this is what terrorism looks like, I, for me, there is a difference, and it is a material and meaningful difference, in how we, so on the one hand again, I want to be able to talk about what the thing is that is terrorism, but on the other hand, I have to reflect that this happens only for specific communities.”
Here’s a close-up of that New York Times front page, highlighting the head shot of Malik:
Now have a look at a screen-grab from Harris-Perry’s show:
These comments boil down to a critique of the New York Times over using newsworthy photographs.