MSNBC’s Witt Frets Texas GOP Targeting Two ‘Outstanding’ House Democrats

News & Politics

On Sunday afternoon, MSNBC weekend anchor Alex Witt put on the latest display of her partisanship by devoting a segment to fretting over Texas Republicans making it more difficult for two House Democrats to get reelected, drawing them both into the same district in Houston. It sounded like DNC TV as Witt gushed that the two Democrats are “outstanding and so devoted,” and she’d hate to have to reject one over the other.

MSNBC Republican Susan del Percio surprisingly informed viewers that the new version of the districts will actually be less gerrymandered than the old district.

Accusing Republicans of “gerrymandering,” Witt began the segment hyping the complaints of Democrats:

New reaction today to gerrymandering plans being laid out across the country. Lawsuits and other challenges are emerging as states embark on the first redistricting in decades that does not require approval from the Department of Justice. In many states, GOP-controlled legislatures are breaking up black and brown communities that previously voted together. In the case of Houston, Texas, two black House Democrats are being pitted against each other.

Then came a soundbite of Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee:

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This map was drawn by outside Republican operative directed by the GOP congressional delegation who promised they would engage with us as they have done in the past. To see this district that had been together for 50 years demolished by this state senate, insensitive in putting my dear friend Al Green and myself in the same district.

Turning to one of her guests, Democratic strategist Don Calloway, the MSNBC host cued him up to complain about the new lines: “Don, why break up these Houston districts that are so symbolic when it comes to representation of black Texans in Congress?”

Calloway accused Republicans of trying to hurt minority representation, and then lauded the two Democrats — Lee and Al Green — who will have to run against one another:

…[Y]ou’re taking out at least one of two really dynamic, really vocal, really experienced good legislators in Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, both of whom have substantial tenure and power on the Hill. So by making them go against each other, you’re eliminating substantial power for those districts in the state of Texas, but it’s a partisan play to continue to tip Texas more in favor of Republicans electorally.

Witt spoke as if she lives in Houston and will have to choose one over the other as she lamented: “Yeah, I got to tell you, I hate having to vote for them potentially pitted against one another because they’re both outstanding and so devoted and, to your point, so experienced.”

When it was her turn to speak, del Percio broke form as an MSNBC Republican who typically just agrees with liberal premises and actually admitted that the old district is more oddly drawn than the new one: “Looks like the Texas legislature is just playing hardball, and I will say this. When you compare the two districts, the current one is clearly gerrymandered. There is a long skinny line that heads north and then West, so it is.”

After lamenting that two Democratic incumbents are being targeted, she further admitted that Democrats redrawing districts in New York are targeting Republicans for defeat.

This episode of Alex Witt Reports was sponsored in part by Ensure. Their contact information is linked.

Transcript follows:

MSNBC’s Alex Witt Reports

October 10, 2021

12:47 p.m. Eastern

ALEX WITT: New reaction today to gerrymandering plans being laid out across the country. Lawsuits and other challenges are emerging as states embark on the first redistricting in decades that does not require approval from the Department of Justice. In many states, GOP-controlled legislatures are breaking up black and brown communities that previously voted together. In the case of Houston, Texas, two black House Democrats are being pitted against each other.

CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): This map was drawn by outside Republican operative directed by the GOP congressional delegation who promised they would engage with us as they have done in the past. To see this district that had been together for 50 years demolished by this state senate, insensitive in putting my dear friend Al Green and myself in the same district.

(…)

WITT: Don, why break up these Houston districts that are so symbolic when it comes to representation of black Texans in Congress?

DON CALLOWAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: To dilute minority representation – to dilute student representation — representation from groups of people who are more likely to vote Democratic. This is absolutely an intentional partisan effort to not only break up districts that would be likely to vote Democratic, thus making them more competitive, particularly in suburban areas for the Republican vote.

Not only that, you’re taking out at least one of two really dynamic, really vocal, really experienced good legislators in Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green, both of whom have substantial tenure and power on the Hill. So by making them go against each other, you’re eliminating substantial power for those districts in the state of Texas, but it’s a partisan play to continue to tip Texas more in favor of Republicans electorally.

WITT: Yeah, I got to tell you, I hate having to vote for them potentially pitted against one another because they’re both outstanding and so devoted and, to your point, so experienced. Susan, you heard one of them, the congresswoman there, saying that the GOP has engaged with Democrats in the past when redrawing district lines. So what’s changed?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Looks like the Texas legislature is just playing hardball, and I will say this. When you compare the two districts, the current one is clearly gerrymandered. There is a long skinny line that heads north and then west, so it is. But it is something to go after two sitting members of Congress.

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