On her eponymous program today, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell carried water for the Obama administration, warning viewers that not raising the debt ceiling would result in a "crisis" that would "stop the recovery."
Interviewing Politico's Roger Simon, the NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent argued that Republican opposition to empowering the federal government to borrow beyond its $14.3 trillion limit "could be a much larger crisis for America" than the looming government shutdown.
The question of whether to raise the debt ceiling is a legitimate one that reporters ought to ask and politicians ought to answer, not the other way around.
Just for good measure, Simon sardonically remarked that watching Tea Party activists discuss economic issues "is a little like gawking at the car wreck."
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
Andrea Mitchell Reports
April 1, 2011
1:25 p.m. EDT
ANDREA MITCHELL: Is there a megaphone for people like Michele Bachmann and others in the tea party who are shouting from the rooftops? Are they getting so much play that that can trump what the White House would like to be an agreement?
ROGER SIMON, Politico chief political columnist: I don't think so. She gets a lot of publicity. She has a lot to say. She says it in an interesting way. Part of it is a little like gawking at the car wreck for the media but I think the Republican elders are going to convince the Tea Party people, "look we have two more important fights. One is on the debt limit which is already $14.3 trillion. President Obama wants to raise it. Two, reforming, which is usually a synonym for cutting, entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Why use up our powder now? Keep our powder dry for those two much more important fights."
MITCHELL: But, Roger, doesn't John Boehner also want to avoid a debt ceiling crisis, which could be a much larger crisis for America, for the economy, and stop the recovery?
SIMON: He does, but he doesn't want to – I mean, it's Republican dogma that we want a small government, that small government releases the natural initiatives of people. It's hard for a Republican to vote for big government measures.
MITCHELL: So you think the debt ceiling actually may be a vote where Boehner and the troops line up together? The Tea Party troops.
SIMON: Yes, and it's much more important fight for the long term.
MITCHELL: Roger Simon from Politico. Thank you very much. Great to see you.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.