During the 10 a.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live, New York Sun national and foreign editor Nicholas Wapshott told host Chris Jansing that he "should think" that members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "feel pretty terrible about what's happened to [New Jersey] Governor [Jon] Corzine [D], who was racing to attend a totally unnecessary meeting of reconciliation where these women are paraded as inadequate." Wapshott was referring to an April 12 meeting between Don Imus and the basketball team held at the New Jersey governor's mansion following Imus' April 4 comments, in which he referred to the team as "nappy-headed hos." According to an April 13 Reuters article, Corzine was on his way to the meeting when the vehicle in which he was riding "swerved to avoid another car and crashed through a guard rail."
Wapshott made his comments during a discussion with Jansing about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) planned attendance at a Rutgers forum on women and political leadership. She is also scheduled to meet with the women's basketball team and its coach, C. Vivian Stringer. During the segment, Wapshott also claimed that Imus' "drive-by insult" was "blown out of all proportion by the coach who had them all paraded as victims on television. That's not good for them."
Wapshott concluded by advocating that Clinton "advise" the team members: "Grow up. Be mature. If somebody says something horrible to them -- to you, just shrug and move on because that's the way in life you're going to have to get on with it, and don't choose your five minutes of fame as they've done." Jansing responded: "Now, I have to say, I think in the appearances that they have made and the interviews I've seen, they've been extremely mature and thoughtful."
Earlier in the segment Jansing had asked Wapshott: "Does [Clinton's] campaign seek political advantage in this whole Imus controversy?" Wapshott replied: "I think so," later adding that Clinton is "jumping on the bandwagon" by meeting with the Rutgers team. Jansing did not host any other guests during the segment.
From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the April 20 edition of MSNBC Live:
JANSING: Nicholas Wapshott is the national and foreign editor with The New York Sun -- good morning.
WAPSHOTT: Good morning.
JANSING: Hillary is scheduled to meet with the women's basketball coach, Vivian Stringer, among other things. It should be interesting, given that Hillary was herself in the past the target of some of Imus' jokes or rants, if you prefer. The Senator also sent an email to thousands of supporters urging them to send messages of encouragement to the team. Does her campaign seek political advantage in this whole Imus controversy?
WAPSHOTT: I think so. One of the interesting things to have emerged from The Washington Post poll that came out yesterday was that, actually, Hillary Clinton is much more popular among African-Americans and women than she -- than Barack Obama. And I think that she's going to shore up that lead that she has in this very important section of the community, particularly in this race with Barack Obama.
JANSING: And not only is she making this appearance but, yesterday, her husband, the former president, met with Al Sharpton, of course who was on the forefront of asking for Imus to resign. She herself is going over there to talk to him later today. How important would her campaign see an endorsement from Al Sharpton as being?
WAPSHOTT: Well, I mean, Al Sharpton is sort of a mixed blessing because he's -- himself has said a number of things, including anti-Semitic remarks, which I'm sure that he regrets. So, Al Sharpton is not the stature of leader that one might hope among the African-American community -- on the other hand, he's significant. And, of course, all of this has to do with the fact that Bill Clinton is such a popular person among all African-Americans and therefore Hillary is trying to, as she will in all fronts, try to take advantage of Bill's popularity and hope that it reflects on her, which, so far, it seems to be working.
JANSING: We should also say that, at Rutgers, today, Senator Clinton is at a forum on women and political leadership and, in fact, she was invited long before the controversy broke out, but does she maybe have to be a little bit careful about what she says today? How open could she be to charges of opportunism?
WAPSHOTT: There's no doubt she's jumping on the bandwagon. Although the invitation was long-standing, that she took up on Monday and as you say it was delayed. But I would -- you know what I hope that she does say to them is that these are good African-American women and some that are not African-American, but what she should be saying to them is: "Don't have yourself painted as victims."
So, you had a drive-by insult from Don Imus. It was blown out of all proportion by the coach who had them all paraded as victims on television. That's not good for them. That's made their situation worse and the relationship, too, when it then went on to the Governor's mansion. I should think that they feel pretty terrible about what's happened to Governor Corzine, who was racing to attend a totally unnecessary meeting of reconciliation where these women are paraded as inadequate.
The best answer I think is to advise them: Grow up. Be mature. If somebody says something horrible to them -- to you, just shrug and move on because that's the way in life you're going to have to get on with it, and don't choose your five minutes of fame as they've done.
JANSING: Now, I have to say, I think in the appearances that they have made and the interviews I've seen, they've been extremely mature and thoughtful. Nicholas Wapshott, thanks so much, appreciate your time.