MSNBC's Hayes Jokes About Farrakhan, Later Admits He's One of 'Lots of Odious Bigots'

Louis Farrakhan / Getty Images
November 6, 2018

MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes made light of recent outcry against Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan Tuesday, joking those in his district should vote against him. Farrakhan is not up for election.

On Twitter, Hayes criticized Farrakhan but turned attention back to Tuesday’s midterm elections to downplay Farrakhan's importance. His opposition "goes for all toxic bigots on the ballot," Hayes declared.

"If you’re in Farrakhan’s congressional district, you should absolutely vote against him. And that goes for all toxic bigots on the ballot," he said.

Hayes was responding to sustained calls for condemnation of Farrakhan. Some, like Jake Tapper, Soledad O’Brien, and Jeryl Bier, have taken to Twitter to condemn those who affiliate with him.

Some, like self-identified Republican Ana Navarro, the Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng, and Slate’s Jordan Weissmann, have joined Hayes in downplaying Farrakhan’s proximity to some of the Democrats' most prominent figures, claiming he was a fringe figure.

Navarro, for example, claims Farrakhan is irrelevant to the course of the Democratic Party’s affairs. "Farrakhan is a flea on an elephant’s butt" in the Democratic Party, she said. In contrast, "Trump is the elephant" of the Republican Party.

As the Free Beacon has previously reported, Farrakhan is a frequent interloper with the Democratic Party’s highest echelons. President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, have all appeared at events alongside Farrakhan. Some, like Congressman Davis, have unrepentantly called Farrakhan "an outstanding human being."

Most recently, Farrakhan was hosted by a high-ranking Iranian minister during his visit to Tehran this week. While there, Farrakhan defended Iranian hostility towards the United States, chanted "death to Israel" in Farsi, and called the United States "Satan."

After Hayes’ tweet prompted criticism, he tried to clarify with a second tweet. He condemned Farrakhan as "a truly odious bigot," but suggested, as did Navarro and others, that Farrakhan was a marginal figure. Hayes contrasted him to those "in American politics with very real current political power."

Hayes also claimed the Nation of Islam leader was "kinda a Trump supporter."

In fact, Farrakhan explicitly said in March of 2016, months before President Donald Trump’s election, that he did not support his candidacy. "I never endorsed Mr. Trump or any of the candidates who are running for the nomination that would make them the leader of their party," he said. He praised Trump for standing up to "members of the Jewish community and [telling] them he did not need or want their money."

The comment was an apparent reference to then-candidate Trump’s December 2015 comments to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C. "You're not gonna support me because I don't want your money. You want to control your politicians, that's fine. Five months ago I was with you," he told RJC members. "I do want your support, but I don't want your money."

The Anti-Defamation League, which has condemned some of Trump’s comments, "today disagreed" with those who viewed the remarks as bigoted. "[W]e do not believe that it was Donald Trump's intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes," the ADL said in a statement.

In contrast, the ADL describes Farrakhan and his organization, the Nation of Islam, as having "a consistent record of anti-Semitism." In addition to calling the United States "Satan," Farrakhan has called Jews "termites" and Adolf Hitler a "great man."

Though Hayes correctly notes Farrakhan is not up for election, his congressman, Rep. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), is. Rush has advocated "offensive violence against the power structure," and was among those who declined to condemn Farrakhan when asked.

Hayes has condemned Farrakhan as a "bigot" in the past, but he has also rejected the need for others to condemn him. "[I]t is only through the most debased and perverse logic of racial guilt by association," he wrote in 2008, "whereby every black politician has to denounce Louis Farrakhan."

Hayes protested the injustice of politicians being associated with the religious figures with whom they associated. If a politician were to have his career ended over his pastor’s comments, "any conscientious observer could be forgiven for thinking: God damn America indeed," Hayes said.