MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Convington controversy: MAGA students, Kavanaugh share ‘American privilege’

MSNBC host Chris Hayes has offered his take on the viral confrontation between Covington Catholic high school students and Native American elder Nathan Phillips.

Hayes began his show Tuesday by comparing the “conservative imagination” that was captured by the controversy between the MAGA hat-wearing teens and the group of Native American marchers to the backlash President Barack Obama received in 2009 for saying that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” for the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates after he was mistaken for a burglar in his own home.

He then linked the Covington students to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault amid his confirmation last year.


“Each of those stories are quite different in the particulars, we should note, the nature of the charge of wrongdoing against the white men and boys, the seriousness of the offense, the position they occupied, and details of what they did or did not do wrong,” Hayes said.

The MSNBC host claimed that it wasn’t the “particulars” that drive the “passion” among conservatives, noting National Review senior editor David French’s tweet, “Last year, conservative wives looked at the furious attack on Kavanaugh and thought, ‘That could be my husband.’ Now conservative moms look at the wild attempt to destroy the Covington kids and think, ‘That could be my son.’”

Hayes continued, "The defining conservative experience of this era is the palpable terror and rage at a social hierarchy that is threatened to tip over and land on its head, one in which those who enjoy a basic kind of American privilege, the right to due process and second chances and charitable readings of their actions and even mistakes, find themselves seemingly without warning tossed instead onto the unforgiving bonfire of snap judgment and harsh punishment.

"And I understand why they are scared of that, why they want to fight it. Because America is already the most punitive developed nation on Earth for poor people, people of color, those who don’t have Brett Kavanaugh’s pedigree of the authority of the badge or $10,000 a year to spend on private school tuition or money to hire a PR firm. We throw millions of lives onto that bonfire every year, they just don’t normally look like teenagers in MAGA hats," he said.


Hayes added that “social media mobs” and “doxing” people aren’t the solution but instead is a “society of empathy, compassion, and accountability evenly, equitably, and justly applied.”

“It is hard to get the modern conservative grassroots mobilized on behalf of that goal when the kids being stamped and judged and locked away don’t make them think, ‘That could be my son,’” Hayes concluded.

The MSNBC host's views came ahead of the Covington students' return to school after it was closed on Tuesday amid threats stemming from the viral video recorded during last week’s March for Life rally.

Covington Catholic High School reopened Wednesday with a police presence, but Sam Schroder, a student who was at the rally in Washington, D.C. told "Fox & Friends" that “everybody feels safe."

“I think that closing the school down yesterday was a good move to play it safe but I think today everybody – I think they are ready to go back, get back together as a community,” he said.

The school has come under fire after a video was posted on Twitter over the weekend that gave some commenters an inaccurate impression that the teens were harassing a Native American man following the demonstration. Subsequent video footage then released painted a different picture – yet the students have still been met with a barrage of criticism and threats.

- Greg Norman contributed to this report.