On Thursday night things got heated on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time. Host Chris Cuomo invited Bernie Sanders’s national campaign co-chair Nina Turner on his show with Biden supporter and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen to discuss the voting records of the two men left standing in the 2020 presidential race.
Cuomo addressed with Turner some issues with Sanders’s long career in politics and then moved to Rosen to address the concerns that voters have over Biden’s record. Issues that he says will be used by Donald Trump if the two were to go head to head in the general election. “Decades of controversial votes that look bad and that go along with stories of commitments to social justice and moments in his past that may not be accurate,” Cuomo said before calling them, “stories that don’t hold up.”
Instead of answering the question about Biden directly, Rosen brought up Turner’s invocation of Martin Luther King, Jr. earlier in the segment, and suggested that she misquoted the late civil rights leader. “Nina referenced Dr. Martin Luther King before, saying that he said from the Birmingham jail that we should be concerned about white moderates. That’s actually not what Martin Luther King said.”
Turner quickly shot back, “He did say that… Are you kidding me?” to which Rosen responded with a claim that King said America, “should be worried about the silence of white moderates.”
Rosen, who is also co-founder of the Times Up Legal Defense Fund, went on to say that Biden has not been silent, and his voting record, though on occasions problematic, was a reflection of the time. Rosen insisted that Biden’s views on some key issues have changed.
Once Rosen was done speaking, Turner attempted to correct the CNN analyst’s revisionist edit of King’s words. “What Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about, he said it is the point that the white moderate wants things to be comfortable instead of focusing in on the bigger threat. That it is not necessarily the white KKK member but more the white moderate that is more comfortable with keeping things the same,” Turner said.
Rosen then responded by telling Turner not to use MLK against Biden because she does not “have the standing” to do so. And that’s when things really went left.
“Don’t tell me what kind of standing I have as a Black woman in America. How dare you?” scolded Turner.
She went on to defend her position by saying, “Listen, don’t dip into what I have to say about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How dare you as a white woman try to tell me what I’m supposed to feel.”
Rosen, likely realizing where she made a mistake, insisted, “That is not what I said. Don’t you do that.”
After the show, Rosen went to social media to apologize for the dustup between her and Turner on Chris Cuomo’s show. In a now-deleted tweet she said, “On air thurs I said my colleague @ninaturner didn’t have a standing to use MLK Jr. That was wrong. I am sorry for saying those words. Pls no need to defend me and attack angry black women. They have standing. I always need to listen more than talk. We rise together.”
Though the tweet seemed to have been intended as an apology, it drew backlash for the use of “angry Black women.”
This morning Rosen went back to the social media platform and made a second attempt at clearing the air, saying, “Good morning. I have nothing but the upmost [sp] respect for Nina, her experience as a person of color, and the fight she’s waging in this election. Wake up this morning to this: I apologized + I take full responsibility. I look forward to the rest of the primary seeking common ground.”
Turner responded to the situation with a book recommendation: The Radical King by Cornell West.
The words written by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a Birmingham Jail can be accessed in its entirety through the online archive at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. An audio version is also available.