MSNBC host Ari Melber invoked racially charged lyrics from rapper Jay-Z to condemn a rioter at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot during the Monday broadcast of his show “The Beat.”
In a monologue near the end of the show, Melber discussed the image taken during the Capitol riot of a white man named Richard Barnett sitting with his foot propped up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. He described the image as “outrageous for many reasons” and noted that “impeachment managers cited it as part of a much wider plot to attack the Speaker and her staff.”
Melber then played clips of Democratic Virgin Islands Del. Stacey Plaskett, one of the House impeachment managers from the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. In the clip, Plaskett showed the image of Barnett, pointing out that he was armed with a “stun gun.”
“So a picture that was disturbing at first sight for one reason is actually clearly dangerous for other reasons. You can believe your eyes, but there are things your eyes don’t always see without more evidence and context,” Melber said after playing the clip of Plaskett. (RELATED: NBC Reporter Claims Capitol Rioters Thought ‘National Guard Would Turn On The Capitol Police’ And ‘Take Over The Government’)
“Which is why trials matter for pursuing a full truth. They happen in public so people learn the evidence regardless of what the jury ultimately decides. Just as other evidence shows Barnett holding those items he was holding up there inside the office as he left, which he confessed to with utter contempt and zero remorse, telling a reporter why he stole this mail,” he continued.
Melber noted Barnett’s “obvious sense of entitlement and utter contempt for the system” before discussing Jay-Z’s lyrics.
“There’s a brand new song by artist Jay-Z with also lyrics by the late Nipsey Hussle, and it’s striking to hear Jay-Z speaking to an audience of millions, really in the United States and around the world, referring to this very incident to call out what he sees as the hypocrisy of the system,” Melber continued. “The brand new song is called ‘What It Feels Like’ and it refers as well to the infamous image of Richard Barnett’s feet up on the Speaker’s desk, and Jay-Z discusses losing respect for a system that would ever allow any of this, and on this topic Jay gets the last word.”
Melber then played a portion of Jay-Z’s song with the lyrics, “You know they hate when you become more than they expect. You let them crackers storm your Capitol, put they feet up on your desk. And yet you talkin’ tough to me, I lost all my little respect.”