Christopher Rufo was invited onto MSNBC's The Reid Out after having asked to debate the pundit on Twitter. The two have engaged in a back and forth both on social media and on air, as Reid has brought up Rufo's name as someone who is opposed to critical race theory without knowing the facts. Rufo got the chance to challenge that assertion on air Wednesday night.
Or at least that was the idea. Reid asked questions, then when Rufo tried to answer, interrupted him, corrected him, and accused him of falsehoods. She referred to his talking points, saying that people could "read them online," and that she wasn't interested in hearing his "Christopher Rufo theory."
Reid opened the segment by talking about "raucous school board meetings" which she said are "part of a national campaign by political operatives to eradicate curriculums on racial and other forms of equity, which, mind you, is not the same thing as critical race theory."
Reid then brought on Rufo, asking him about his request for a debate, which she had previously referred to as "white man's demands." In introducing him to her show, she said he was "one of those operatives."
The two began with a cordial dialogue, showing that the greatest difference between online and in person discourse is basic manners. "You and I started out with a little bit of a Twitter beef," Reid said.
"I talked about you, I quoted you, in an article that one of our great journalists here at NBC had quoted you in a piece, and I quoted that on tv," Reid said. She was referring to an NBC article that asserted that "political operatives" have been encouraging parents to revolt against their local school boards.
In that article, authors Brandy Zadrozny, Tyler Kingkade, and Ben Collins cite 165 parents groups that have grown over the past year to take on everything from remote school, to masking restrictions, to critical race and gender theory, and they seem to think parental involvement and various levels of support is a bad thing. Rufo took issue with the way he and his ideas were dealt with in the article.
"And then you tweeted that you wanted to come on the show and said that I didn't have the courage to put you on. Now I will just note that Twitter is a hyperbole zone, so y'know, whatever, it's all water under the bridge, but I just want to get to a couple of little factual things: Why would I need courage to bring you on?" Reid asked Rufo.
"Are you on like an expert in race, or racial history, are you a lawyer, or a legal scholar, is that part of your background?" She asked.
"I'm a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute," Rufo said, "where I'm running their initiative on critical race theory and the reason that I reached out to Twitter on you, and I appreciate you having me on, I enjoy this kind of cross-partisan dialogue, but the reason is not just that you were attacking me on air, which I think is fine, I think it's politics, that's fair game—"
Reid interrupted, saying "One second, I wasn't attacking, I was reading your quote, but go on."
"You were reading it with the framing, calling me a political operative, which I'm not, I'm actually a think tank scholar, but let's put all that aside," Rufo said. "The problem that I have is that you're really spread four, I think, key false pieces of information about critical race theory."
"Okay," Reid said.
"You've claimed in recent weeks," Rufo continued, "that critical race theory isn't being taught in schools. You've claimed that most American public school students learn what you call 'confederate race theory,' and are taught that slavery was 'not so bad.' You've claimed that state legislation will prevent schools from teaching about the history of racism, and finally you've claimed that critical race theory isn't rooted in the philosophical traditions of Marxism. And I think that all four of those claims are wrong, and I'd love to discuss them tonight," Rufo said.
After the initial pleasantries, conversation moved on with Reid taking the lead in the conversation, asking questions, and refusing to let Rufo answer. She repeatedly asked him about his ideas, and used his responses as fodder to interrupt and contradict him, but without hearing what he was saying. The segment, which was meant to be a debate, devolved into an impossible to understand cacophony.