On Monday’s “Deadline: White House,” MSNBC guest commentator and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Karen Hunter offered her fresh take that the Republicans have now transformed into “the party of D.W. Griffith” and “the party of the KKK.” Hunter immediately followed up her remarks by assuring MSNBC’s audience that these comments had “nothing to do with partisan politics.”
D.W. Griffith was the director of the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” one of the first true blockbuster success stories of American cinema. However, the film is more famous today for its pro-Confederate and pro-KKK themes than for its advances in cinematography. In fact, many modern critics see the film’s political message and influence as being essential to fueling the rebirth of the KKK and its rapid growth in membership during the 1910s and 20s. President Woodrow Wilson was such a big fan of the movie that he hosted a screening of it at the White House, thus making Griffith's movie the first to ever receive that distinction.
Hunter’s comments suggesting that Republicans are on the verge of re-activating the KKK and going on the warpath against black people are nothing new for her. After the 2016 election, Hunter made similar remarks that Trump supporters must have made their voting decisions based on hidden, deep-seated racism during a taped appearance with journalist Steve Adubato. She even claimed that most "white people have no relationship with blacks [...] on purpose" and that Trump's election made "many people" wake up the next day "afraid for their lives" [emphasis mine]:
STEVE ADUBATO: But you know, there’s another thing that you said that struck me. […] Am I right that you said that if you voted for Donald Trump, at the core there was a racist -- it was racist?
KAREN HUNTER: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve said that.
ADUBATO: You don’t -- you didn’t mean -- maybe I -- you didn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump?
HUNTER: Well, here’s what I mean. So -- ‘cause I don’t mince words. If you could pull a --
ADUBATO: No kidding.
HUNTER: If you could pull a lever for somebody that had the history that he had, not just talking about the housing discrimination. I’m talking about the -- calling for the death penalty of five young boys in New York City for rape, and then when they were exonerated still has --
ADUBATO: You’re talking about Central Park.
HUNTER: Central Park Five. Still hasn’t apologized, still said: Well they must have done something --
ADUBATO: Took out ads in the paper.
HUNTER: Took out ads in the paper, a lot of money, as I worked at the Daily News at the time. That was a $25,000 ad. He did one in the New York Times as well --
ADUBATO: Calling for their…
HUNTER: For their death, for a rape that they were exonerated for later. DNA evidence proved that they didn’t do it. Not only did he not apologize, but he doubled down and said that they must have done something. This man, to me, uh, more so than any other candidate, ‘cause I can -- I can roll with policies that I don’t necessarily agree with. And truthfully, you know, as I get older I’m a little bit more conservative than I was in my 20s. The climate in this country that he fostered and fanned the flames of, both through his social media and through actually what he did at his rallies, this, you know, take ‘em out, let’s beat ‘em. You know, I could shoot somebody and get away with it. And it just the, the, the disconnect, you know. You, your, your solution to black folk is appointing Ben Carson as head of HUD, having Omarosa as your, you know, outreach person. You know, it’s, like, it’s so insulting that if you could pull a lever for somebody that the KKK did a rally for in celebration, that David Duke and all these “alt-right,” you know, white supremacists have come out for, it says something about you.
ADUBATO: But at the core, all of them [Trump voters] racist?
HUNTER: I think that we in this nation have a race problem that we never deal with.
ADUBATO: No doubt. No doubt.
HUNTER: And I think that, more of us -- if 75% of white people have no relationship with blacks, and that’s a Washington Post poll, that’s on purpose. So your only information about people from outside of your culture is through media, propaganda, movies, or what have you, rap music, and that shapes how you treat people and how you think about them, then you, you know, you have some work to do, you know. And you pulled the lever for somebody that, for many people, they woke up that Wednesday morning afraid for their lives, you know, afraid for their livelihoods, afraid for their future as American citizens, that you can live in a nation where you could say to your fellow Americans: Middle finger to you. ‘Cause that’s what it felt like.