The 'Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' host receives backlash after pressing the Republican presidential frontrunner with questions about 'sitting on the sidelines' during the civil rights movement.
Lawrence O'Donnell has landed on hot water after being disrespectful to Herman Cain during an interview for "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell". The host started out by reading an excerpt from the 65-year-old businessman's book which read, "I was too young to participate when they first started the freedom rides [of the civil rights movement] and sit-ins... I just kept going to school doing what I was supposed to do, and stayed out of trouble [as my father told me to]."
"Where do you think black people would be sitting on the bus today if Rosa Parks had followed your father's advise?" O'Donnell then asked Cain, who replied, "My father was not given Rosa Parks' advice. Here again, Lawrence, you are distorting the intent of what I said. I was a high school student. The college students were going the sit-ins. If I had been a college student, I probably would have been participating but if you're a high school student in the 10th or 11th grade, you're under 18 years of age, you didn't need to get arrested and be in the middle that."
O'Donnell continued to point out that Cain was a college student from 1963 to 1967 at the height of the civil rights movement. "Do you regret sitting on those sidelines at that time?" he continued pressing the Republican presidential hopeful. "Did you expect every black student and every black college in America to be out there in the middle of every fight? The answer is no. So for you to say why was I sitting on the sidelines, I think that that is an inaccurate deduction that you are trying to make," Cain said.
Seemingly upset, Cain added, "You didn't know, Lawrence, what I was doing with the rest of my life. You didn't know what my family situation may have been. Maybe, just maybe I had a sick relative, which is why I might not have been sitting in or doing the freedom rides. So what I'm saying, Lawrence, is with all due respect, you deduction is incorrect and it's not logical."
Fellow journalists apparently did not support the way O'Donnell interviewed Cain. Conor Friedersdorf from The Atlantic called the interview "offensive" and thought that O'Donnell "repeatedly hectored candidate Herman Cain in a disrespectful way."
CNN's John King, meanwhile, labeled the interview a "character assassination". "Perhaps the most detestable media character assassination I have seen in a very long time happened on MSNBC with Lawrence O'Donnell attacking Herman Cain. What an outrage," he said.
Either O'Donnell or MSNBC which airs the program has not responded to the backlash.