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On the August 24 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, while discussing reports that NFL player Michael Vick had pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges related to dogfighting, host Tucker Carlson asserted that the NAACP "has come out officially to defend Michael Vick against these charges, saying that they're racially motivated." Carlson, who described the NAACP as "a faithful arm really of the Democratic Party," went on to ask his guests, radio talk show host Ed Schultz and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter: "Will the Democratic Party take a position in favor or on the side of Michael Vick, do you think? ... Do you see the Democratic candidates coming out in favor of dogfighting?" After Shultz responded that "it's a stretch to try to connect them to something like this," Carlson stated: "[O]f course, it's a ... it is a stretch, and I'm half joking." He later said, as blogger Lane Hudson noted, "I don't understand why people take the NAACP seriously," adding that, "at this point," the NAACP is "a sad joke that should be shut down I think immediately for the sake of everybody."
In fact, according to an Associated Press article posted on the organization's website, the NAACP has taken no official position on Vick's case. NAACP interim president and CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes stated, "I think there is reason to believe in his redemption." On the subject of whether the charges are racially motivated, Hayes, according to the AP article, said: "He may in fact be being treated better than some African-Americans and Hispanics who don't have the resources and financial means that he has. ... On the other hand, there might be some of a different race or different ethnicity who might be treated a bit differently."
Meanwhile, R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, called on the NFL "not to permanently ban" Vick, according to a separate August 23 AP article:
"As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football," said R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, yesterday. "We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."
White said the Falcons quarterback made a mistake and should be allowed to prove he has learned from that mistake. On Monday, Vick said through a lawyer that he will plead guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.
White said the Atlanta chapter supports Vick's decision to accept a plea bargain if it's in his best interest, but he questioned the credibility of Vick's codefendants, saying an admission of guilt might be more about cutting losses than the truth.
"Some have said things to save their own necks," White said. "Michael Vick has received more negative press than if he had killed a human being."
White added he does not support dogfighting, and that he considers it as bad as hunting.
From the August 24 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:
CARLSON: Let me ask you this -- the NAACP is a faithful arm really of the Democratic Party, and it has come out officially to defend Michael Vick against these charges, saying that they're racially motivated -- these charges of dogfighting -- to which he has now apparently decided to plead guilty.
Will the Democratic Party take a position in favor or on the side of Michael Vick, do you think?
SHULTZ: Tucker, the Democrats have absolutely --
CARLSON: Do you see the Democratic candidates coming out in favor of dogfighting?
SHULTZ: Now, hold on a second. The Democrats have nothing to do with this story, and it's a stretch to try to connect them to something like this, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, what do you think -- of course, it's a --
SCHULTZ: The NAACP --
CARLSON: -- it is a stretch, and I'm half joking. But what do you think -- and I don't think anybody's going to defend dogfighting -- but the NAACP is defending dogfighting, and what do you make of that?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think the NAACP is doing what they've always done for the advancement of colored people in our society, and that is, give a man his day in court. He has not been convicted to all of the charges and you really have to give Michael Vick an opportunity through the legal system to restore his reputation. It is a horrible story. It's a story --
CARLSON: [inaudible], come on!
SCHULTZ: The NFL had to do this. The NFL waited until the plea came in. But he may not be guilty of some other things as well. So, give him his due and give him a chance through the legal system to try to work himself out of this.
That doesn't exonerate him, but it is -- this is how our judicial system works in this country.
CARLSON: Yeah, well, I don't -- with all respect -- I don't think it advances the interests of black people or white people or any people in this country to defend something as gruesome as dogfighting.
And I wonder, Stephanie, if it turns out to be true -- and I think it will turn out to be true that Vick has pled to certain charges but has not admitted killing dogs directly or gambling on dogs, which is kind of a way to keep open his options in professional sports, he's kind of skating on this, it sounds like to me.
CUTTER: Skating on it, like trying to get off scot-free?
CARLSON: Well, trying to get off without paying the appropriate penalty, right?
CARLSON: Because the gambling is the really significant charge and the point of view of his job. You can't gamble and be in the NFL.
CUTTER: Right. Right.
CARLSON: He apparently is not admitting to that. I mean, you could -- could you see a scenario in which he comes back as an NFL star when he's out of prison in a year?
CUTTER: Well, you know, it depends what he's pleading guilty to, what the facts are, and what's ultimately proven to be true or not true.
You know, I can see a million different scenarios here, but we have to let it play out. I'm certainly glad that Ed got the first question, because I'm not that familiar with dogfighting. And I don't understand why this would be a racial issue to begin with.
CARLSON: Well, I don't either. And I don't understand why people take the NAACP seriously. It was a group whose history we can all respect, and I know I do respect its history --
CARLSON: -- but at this point, it's a sad joke that should be shut down I think immediately for the sake of everybody.