MSNBC’s Hayes Fears Trump ‘Could Literally’ Trigger Nuclear Armageddon

MSNBC took their fear mongering of President-elect Donald Trump to new heights Tuesday night when All In host Chris Hayes reported that, “Trump’s comments about nuclear weapons have experts worried he could literally inadvertently trigger a catastrophe.” Hayes used two segments of his show to try to drive home his narrative and help spread his fear. He also brought on Esquire writer Charlie Pierce to aid him in his endeavor.

Reading from the liberal Washington Post, Hayes quoted a “nuclear nonproliferation expert” saying, “Imagine we’re in a crisis – if he recklessly tweets, people could read these things in the worst possible light … The North Koreans have a plan to use nuclear weapons very early in a conflict. They're not going to wait around.”

The MSNBC host told the real life story of a Soviet colonel who talked his government out of attacking the U.S. One day in 1983, a computer system falsely detected one and then five launch signatures being picked up coming from the U.S. The colonel argued that the launch was too small for it to be real, with no provocation on their end, and talked his government out of a perceived counter attack.

Hayes’ point was that Trump was so radically unhinged mentally that the colonel, or any nuclear power, couldn’t properly read him and possibly launch their stockpiles in error.

After introducing Pierce, Hayes vented, “And Charlie, you know, I have not thought as much about nuclear weapons in a long time as I have been thinking about them in the last few weeks.” Pierce explained that he grew up with an ever present fear of a nuclear attack, and warned that it still is a persistent threat:

We have what, I think the total is 7100, individual nuclear war heads. I don't even want to know what the destructive capabilities there. And we're about to hand the launch orders over to a guy who can't stay away from his phone for 15 minutes… So yeah, I think we're all good to need a refresher course in what nuclear weapons are all about.

He's basically making this calculation about rational action,” Hayes argued, reiterating his point that Trump is too unhinged to be understandable:

But largely he’s thinking to myself, “This doesn’t make any sense. There's no reason the U.S. is starting a war right now.” And it made me think how important just a general assumption of predictability and rationality is in the kind of game theoretical decisions made around nuclear weapons.

Pierce recalled that the same fear was present when Ronald Reagan was elected president, but noted that nuclear reduction was started under his tenure. But Pierce didn’t extend the benefit of the doubt to Trump. He instead joked that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted a nuclear arms race because they seem, “To identify his national manhood with the number of war heads he has. Boy, there's Freudian levels of that I don't want to get into.

The shear level of fear mongering conducted by Hayes and Pierce was absolutely ridiculous. If Hayes was so worried about a nuclear build up, where was this outrage when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved signing over U.S. uranium claims to Russia? Hayes’s matter-of-fact discussion of Trump triggering a nuclear armageddon was arguably fake news. 

Transcript below:

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MSNBC
All In with Chris Hayes
December 27, 2016
8:34:27 PM Eastern

CHRIS HAYES: Trump’s comments about nuclear weapons have experts worried he could literally inadvertently trigger a catastrophe. “Imagine we’re in a crisis – if he recklessly tweets, people could read these things in the worst possible light,” nuclear nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis told The Washington Post, adding, “The North Koreans have a plan to use nuclear weapons very early in a conflict. They're not going to wait around.” Joining me know, Charlie Pierce Editor-at-Large for Esquire. And Charlie, you know, I have not thought as much about nuclear weapons in a long time as I have been thinking about them in the last few weeks.

CHARLIE PIERCE: Yeah. I am older than you are. So I was 9 years old and in grammar school during the Cuban Missile Crisis which was my first general awareness of what nuclear weapons are and what they can do. And at this point, nuclear weapons are the genie that doesn't fit into the bottle anymore. We have what, I think the total is 7100, individual nuclear war heads. I don't even want to know what the destructive capabilities there. And we're about to hand the launch orders over to a guy who can't stay away from his phone for 15 minutes. You've got, you know, India and Pakistan have them. That's probably the most dangerous part of the world right now. So yeah, I think we're all good to need a refresher course in what nuclear weapons are all about.

HAYES: You know, when I was rewatching that amazing Dateline bit [about a Russian colonel correctly identifying a computer error signaling the US launched missiles], that ran at 12 minutes, totally incredibly story. And one of the things that comes through, with the colonel is, he's basically making this calculation about rational action. Right? He looks around. There had been an airline that the Russians had downed, so there had been some international crisis. But largely he’s thinking to myself, “This doesn’t make any sense. There's no reason the U.S. is starting a war right now.” And it made me think how important just a general assumption of predictability and rationality is in the kind of game theoretical decisions made around nuclear weapons.

HAYES: The point you make about Reagan is an important one. Right? Cause the big, sort of, turning point in reduction of American stockpiles really does start with Reagan and has been essentially a bipartisan continuous drawdown and negotiated bilateral trajectory for American foreign policy across many different presidents from both parties.

PIERCE: Sure. And I think you also had, you know, you had a partner at least up until this point in Russia, you know, the other major nuclear power, you know, with a willingness to cooperate on it. Now, I don't know what's going to happen with the current guy in there, but you know, it seems to -- he seems to, as is the case with our president-elect, seems to identify his national manhood with the number of war heads he has. Boy, there's Freudian levels of that I don't want to get into.

But in any event, as you said right at the top, this is back on the front burner again.

HAYES: Yeah.

PIERCE: And anybody who -- I've lived long enough to have lived through it being on the front burner a couple of times. And like I said, it concentrates your mind wonderfully on what could happen if things spiral badly out of control.

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