“Meet the Press” aired a segment on Sunday morning that featured men from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York who had participated in gun violence. The issue with the story was that it only featured Black men.
Some questioned why, in the wake of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in South Carolina in which a White man shot and killed nine Black people, would the program air a segment that made the issue of gun violence seem like an issue that is solely prevalent among African-Americans.
“I thought that was a very powerful piece,” said Eugene Robinson, a “Meet the Press” panelist and Washington Post columnist. “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.”
The host of “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, took to the program’s website to straighten out the controversy, claiming that the segment was put together before the church shooting occurred:
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.
Do you think “Meet the Press” was wrong for airing this piece?