During a heated exchange on Monday night’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked how presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney could appeal to “flat earthers” and “birthers” in the conservative base, tossing in “the Grand Wizard crowd over there,” to the dismay of former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who told Matthews “I resent that. What is this ‘grand wizard’ nonsense,” adding “Are you saying that we’re the Ku Klux Klan? Give me a break. Don’t go there with me.”
Later in the segment, Matthews said he “didn’t mean to say Grand Wizard,” but called on Romney to denounce “all the birtherrism, all the attempts to make Barack Obama some kind of foreigner.”
While there is general agreement that the “Birther” movement is motivated by some degree of racial suspicion and resentment, Matthews was right to take back those words. As repugnant as Birthers are, such a comparison flirts with trivializing the horrors of the Klan.
He has, however, flipped on the question of climate change.
Here’s Matthews’ “Grand Wizard” remark, and his retraction, from MSNBC:
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