Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called out MSNBC on the air Wednesday after Ari Melber repeatedly tried to get him to explain how he has “evolved” on parts of the Civil Rights Act, referencing comments he made to Rachel Maddow in 2010.
After making it clear that he has never been opposed to the Civil Rights Act, Paul suggested that MSNBC is too unfair in its political coverage to host an open and honest philosophical discussion on the subject.
Melber brought up Paul’s past “controversial” comments out of the blue during a discussion on criminal reform with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Despite the host’s repeated attempts to get Paul to explain how he “evolved,” Paul didn’t bite.
“What I would say to be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I’ve always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act,” Paul responded. “People need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I’ve changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act. Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I learned my lesson: To come on MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act, and you’re some terrible racist.”
“And I take great objection to that, because, in Congress, I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fair,” he added. “So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I’m not.”
Melber then asked, “But when you said, well, here’s where the rules for private businesses are concerning, why not explain that you’ve evolved on that?”
Paul argued that he is “not willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this” and claimed he’s been smeared by “half-a-dozen people on your network trying to say I’m opposed to the Civil Rights Act.”
Still not moving on, Melber then referenced the specific parts of the Civil Rights Act that Paul discussed back in 2010 in an attempt to steer the conversation, only to be interrupted.
“The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion,” Paul concluded.