Proving once again that MSNBC is less of a cable news channel and more of a platform for liberal activism, the “Morning Joe” crew today lashed out at members of the U.S. Senate who decided to vote against a gun bill backed by President Obama.
Taking his cue from the fiery and petulant speech the president delivered yesterday, self-described conservative Republican Joe Scarborough lashed out at the “pathetic” vote. His co-host Mika Brzezinski was even more hateful, repeatedly denouncing the senators who voted to support the NRA’s position on the bill as “cowards.” She then ordered producers for the show to put the names and faces of these senators on wanted-style posters in attempt to anger viewers against them.
In the segment, a nearly unhinged Scarborough uttered the same talking points repeatedly about how a vote against the bill, proposed by Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), was exactly the same as wanting terrorists and gang members to have guns.
“It is unbelievable that for some reason, my party is now defining ‘conservative’ as the promotion of gun trafficking for gang members across America,” Scarborough raged. “My party is now, for some reason, embracing criminals and violent offenders and Al Qaeda members being able to purchase guns.”
As one would expect, there was no nuance whatsoever in the segment nor was there any representation of the bill’s opponents’ view that the legislation establishing some types of background checks was imprecisely crafted and would allow the creation of a permanent gun owner database. Instead, viewers were treated to a 10-minute extended flamefest from Brzezinski and Scarborough punctuated only by the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Politico’s Mike Allen eagerly rushing in to pour gasoline on the fire.
In his haste to attack opponents of the gun bill, Scarborough, who had confused NRA spokesman Chris Cox with a former GOP congressman of the same name, made another embarrassing gaffe, incorrectly referring to members of the Senate as having “districts.”
“For all the Republicans, perhaps some are in safe districts that won’t be touched—but those who are not in the safest districts, this is going to be a key issue in 2014 and beyond and they’re going to pay for their votes as well,” Scarborough said.
Needless to say, only members of the House of Representatives are elected by districts under the U.S. Constitution.
The assembled activists also gushed at the idea that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ardent supporter of gun control and one of America’s richest people, might continue using some of his vast fortune on television ads attacking senators who voted against this particular bill and also supporting the “heroes” who voted for it.
As we’ve noted before, this is quite a reversal on the part of liberals who have long decried the involvement of billionaires such as Charles Koch and David Koch in politics. Some philanthropists are more equal than others, one supposes.
That proposition also makes one wonder: If the threat of Bloomberg’s cash and that of the new White House-affiliated Organizing for America is so great, why would opposing their will (and that of the slavishly liberal national press corps) is somehow an act of “cowardice.” In another context, defying the will of such powerful forces might be termed courage or an example of a principled stand. Apparently some political positions are more equal than others as well.
A slightly shortened video of the segment follows. Continue reading for the transcript.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: We’re also covering the incredible story out of Washington, D.C., the gun legislation and those that voted ‘no.’
With us now, chief White House correspondent for Politico, Mike Allen, and senior political reporter for Politico Maggie Haberman, back with us this morning. And Willie [Geist], why don’t you bring them inside the West Wing on gun control? What I’m going to do, I’m just going to sit back and ask Alex to put up the names as we speak of all those senators who voted ‘no’ on the background checks.
To me, editorializing of course, the faces of cowardice, to the viewer, you can bring your own conclusions. But we’d like to show everybody’s name and face. Take it away. [...]
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You look at the Democrats and the Republicans, the Democrats are going to be facing an uphill battle in primary fights, I suspect some will be defeated and that will change the calculation on gun votes for those Democrats who cowered in the corner and were afraid to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and convicted felons. They will pay a heavy price in the primary.
For all the Republicans, perhaps some are in safe districts that won’t be touched-- but those who are not in the safest districts, this is going to be a key issue in 2014 and beyond and they’re going to pay for their votes as well. Again, you don’t ignore 90 percent of the vote, what the voting population wants when you’re talking about the safety of Americans, the safety of our families, the safety of our communities, the safety of our schools; the safety that we feel when we send our kids to malls, to churches, to college.
This is–Mike Allen, and I had said before, and you picked it up in the Playbook [a morning email newsletter edited by Allen], I just wanted to be clear, I said this party is headed towards extinction, I’m talking about the 2013 version of the Republican Party. A new Republican party, though, is going to come in its place. This sort of extremism is going to be called out by the 90 percent. We’re the 90 percent and we’re going to win. And this is just the first battle.
MIKE ALLEN (Politico): Now Joe, there’s one particular excuse from several senators that the White House said seemed to be decisive and I’d love to get your view of it. A couple of senators, both parties, said to the White House, we could be with you on guns, or immigration, or gay marriage—we could even be with you on two of those three, three at once is just too much.
BRZEZINSKI: What? What? That’s the excuse?
ALLEN: That was the excuse.
SCARBOROUGH: I never looked, I never looked at a bill and said ‘Well gee, I’m going to vote against because it’s the right thing to do but I’ll vote for the other—’ I mean you, when you, if you’re going to have to choose which bill to follow, it seems to me that, first of all involves safety, secondly, involves keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, third, involves keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and has 90 percent of the American people behind them. This was a group of lawmakers cowering against, away, from the NRA, an organization that supported these background checks just a decade ago. And it bears repeating that several, several, Sam Stein, of these senators that voted against background checks to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and gang members and violent rapists supported it not so long ago. [...]
It is unbelievable that for some reason, my party is now defining “conservative” as the promotion of gun trafficking for gang members across America. And my party is now, for some reason, embracing criminals and violent offenders—
BRZEZINSKI: Some Democrats, too
SCARBOROUGH: —and Al Qaeda members—and Democrats, too—being able to purchase guns. I will say 90 percent of my party voted against it. I will say if Democrats had stood shoulder-to-shoulder, then somebody like Kelly Ayotte in the Northeast would’ve had to follow John McCain. And I think would have voted, followed John McCain.
If Barack Obama can just get those Democrats lined shoulder-to-shoulder, and I think, the president needs to get Mike Bloomberg in to stare down every one of them and say ‘You know what? I don’t know how powerful you think you are, but you’re not powerful enough to withstand the money that I’m going to throw into your district or into your state.’ —
BRZEZINSKI (snickering): Against your opponent.
SCARBOROUGH: —to make sure—
SAM STEIN (Huffington Post): Moreover, that’s a valid point. And that’s a valid point. I was talking to a bunch of people after the vote to ask what could’ve been done differently and what could be done differently going forward. And basically, the only solution that these people had, including David Axelrod in talking about it, was you have to show these people that there’s an electoral downside to voting this way. And so it’s very, I’m very interested to see in 2014 with Bloomberg, with OFA, how they play in these districts, not just going against Democrats who opposed the bill but supporting Democrats who did take tough votes like Kay Hagin and Mary Landrieu who did back background checks.
BRZEZINSKI: So Joe, Joe, we try not to be vitriolic on this show and we try not to be ugly on this show but I do have an equation I’d like to put out there for you at the top of the hour, we don’t have enough time for it now. In terms of them, we described these senators as “cowards,” we’ve used the word “cowardice,” I wonder if we take it a step further involving a certain tape that we’ve been showing on this show. We’ll do that at the top of the hour. [...]
SCARBOROUGH: Before we end the hour, let’s talk about the honor roll yesterday, the people that actually took courageous stands—
SCARBOROUGH: —that where it wasn’t necessarily easy.
SCARBOROUGH: Kay Hagin, Mary Landrieu, what about John McCain—
BRZEZINSKI (smiling proudly): John McCain.
SCARBOROUGH: —coming through in Arizona, I wish Jeff Flake would’ve followed him. Pat Toomey, of course. Joe Manchin, a hero, Mark Kirk, and some others. Really difficult votes yesterday, if you define difficult by supporting something that 90 percent of Americans do. And apparently in the United States Senate in 2013, that’s how difficult is defined. It is sad, it is pathetic.