Seth Meyers took a moment during his “Late Night” show Monday to praise Rep. Rashida Tlaib, telling her in an interview that her Palestinian background made her unique in Congress and that media coverage often did not reflect that perspective.
“It’s nice, I think, to have someone in Congress as a Palestinian who has a platform because obviously it happens very rarely,” Meyers said. “Certainly in the media. you don’t get the Palestinian perspective.”
Tlaib was on set to offer an explanation of remarks she made on Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast last week, in which she said the memory of the Holocaust gave her a “calming feeling” and that her Palestinian ancestors created a “safe haven” for Jewish people fleeing World War II. Tlaib told Meyers that critics had been twisting her words out of context.
“I got a text message from a friend, who’s like, next time really clarify, maybe talk like a fourth grader because maybe the racist idiots would understand you better,” she said, prompting audience applause. “I will continue to speak truth to power.”
Meyers seemed inclined to agree.
“I actually think it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to talk about the history of that part of the world on a fourth grade level because I actually don’t think a lot of us here understand it,” he said.
The interview was mostly friendly, and lacked the sort of firm fact checking that CNN’s John King offered on the same day. On the set of his “Inside Politics,” King offered a forceful pushback.
“‘Calming’ is at best an awkward word choice in any sentence referencing the Holocaust,” King said. “She (Tlaib) also fails a critical fact and context test. Yes, as she said, Palestinians lost land in the creation of Israel. But, she ignored the fact that Palestinian leaders at the time allied themselves with Hitler and that total war was how the Arab world reacted to the declaration of Israeli independence.”
Meyers has shown a willingness to grill his guests, however, when he feels the occasion calls for it. Last week, he engaged in a testy exchange with “The View” host — and conservative — Meghan McCain, repeatedly attempting to defend another congresswoman, Rep. Ilhan Omar, against McCain’s charges of anti-semitism.
“Are you her publicist? Are you her press person?” McCain ultimately snapped at him. “I am not sure what would make you happy coming out of my mouth right now. I am genuinely curious.”
A rep for Meyers did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.