Dear Chuck Todd,
It is 2019. And you’re supposed to be of a much higher intellect—being on NBC and all.
But Maya Angelou is not Toni Morrison—not by any stretch of the white imagination.
One was a poet laureate (who actually moved in major political circles, having done President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration and all) and the other was a history-making, Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
But let’s not put the cart before the white horse.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Todd was asked if he was “surprised” by the Trump administration’s willingness to “spread disinformation.”
“I fully admit, listening to you ask that question now, and me giving you the honest answer of, yeah, I guess I really believed they wouldn’t do this. Just so absurdly naive in hindsight,” the Meet the Press moderator responded. “Donald Trump’s entire life has been spent using misinformation. His entire life. I’ve spent years studying him now on trying to figure out how did this guy even learn politics? Where did he learn?”
He continued, “And the more you learn, you realize he learned at the feet of a master of deception in Roy Cohn, who learned at the feet of the original master of deception of sort of the modern political era in Joe McCarthy. So I mean, look, if people want to read my answer to your question, ‘Boy, that Chuck Todd was hopelessly naive.’ Yeah, it looks pretty naive. I think we all made the mistake of not following Toni Morrison’s advice, which is when people tell you who they are, believe them.”
There was an editor’s note following his mea culpa stating: “Maya Angelou is the author of this quote.”
The I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings author’s actual quote is: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
This 47-year-old white man with three first names (Charles David Todd) is an alum of George Washington University and a professor at John Hopkins University.
So perhaps he should’ve known better.
Criticism was fast and furious.
Sugar in the Raw author and former Huffington Post Black Voices editor Rebecca Carroll blasted Todd on Twitter, saying “I am profoundly offended that Chuck Todd thinks Toni Morrison is Maya Angelou. Man, what is wrong with you?”
Ex-CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien chimed in with: “Chuck Todd confusing a Maya Angelou quote for a Toni Morrison quote is the best possible metaphor for Chuck Todd that one could come up with.”
And it’s not only black people who Todd drew ire from.
Brooklyn Institute associate faculty member Patrick Blanchfield, who is white, called Todd a “clown” and chastised him for handling Trump with kid gloves.
“Come for [a] lesson on how the media needs to have a ‘reckoning’ with its complicity in making Trump possible from the guy *who literally let him phone in interviews to Meet The Press,* stay for him casually misidentifying Maya Angelou as Toni Morrison. @chucktodd is a clown,” he tweeted.