MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell hopefully learned a valuable lesson Wednesday: when you invite someone on your show to discuss his new book, you might want to read it first.
As the Last Word host questioned convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff about his recently released memoir "Capitol Punishment," it quickly became obvious O'Donnell had no idea what was actually in the book he was holding up (video follows with transcript and commentary):
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, HOST: Now, you know, the book reads to me not as a story of a corrupt Congress, but as a story of a corrupt Republican Congress. This is, there aren’t Democrats in this book.
JACK ABRAMOFF: No, there are.
ABRAMOFF: There are Democrats. There's Harry Reid in the book.
O’DONNELL: For what?
ABRAMOFF: For helping our lobbying efforts, accepting money from us. I think, the important thing, I think, is that Republicans and Democrats are part of the same system. The system, overall, needs to be changed. And Republicans and Democrats, unfortunately, have participated over the years, over the decades in the same system, as did I.
How could O'Donnell have missed that the current Senate Majority Leader was named in this book unless of course he hadn't read it?
Potentially just as embarrassing, it appears this MSNBC host has very little understanding of the entire Abramoff scandal:
O’DONNELL: But you had, you now famously told Leslie Stahl the other night on 60 Minutes that you owned 100 members of Congress. They were all Republicans, right?
O’DONNELL: Which, which Democrats did you own?
ABRAMOFF: Well, the phraseology of "own" I think became part of the 60 Minutes show, but I guess the better way to phrase it is "to heavily influence." There were scores of Republicans and Democrats.
I'd say the ignorance on display was shocking, but nothing surprises me about the ignorance of anyone on this joke of a so-called news network.
As the Washington Post reported in December 2005:
The senior Democrat on the Senate committee investigating former lobbyist Jack Abramoff announced this week that he will return $67,000 in donations from Indian tribes represented by the indicted Republican.
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), vice chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said he has never met Abramoff, nor did he advocate any program backed by Abramoff's tribal clients that he would not have otherwise embraced. But his move, reported yesterday in the Forum of Fargo, N.D., illustrates how broadly the political stain of Abramoff's money is spreading on Capitol Hill.
The Washington Times elaborated on this announcement:
The contributions to Mr. Dorgan are part of $700,000 in contributions that Republicans say have been made to Senate Democrats by Mr. Abramoff, his Indian tribe clients and his associates. Those contributions counter a Democrat charge that Republicans are fostering a culture of corruption.
“It’s very odd that Democrats at the national and state levels have sought to exploit the Abramoff matter for political gain, while in the process throwing countless congressional Democrats under the bus,” said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
The NRSC has begun circulating among fellow Republicans new reports showing that all but five of the chamber’s 44 Democrats have taken Abramoff-related money. In addition, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have taken more than $1.2 million, according to records provided to The Washington Times.
In total, Senate Democrats and their national committees have accepted $3.1 million, compared with $4.3 million in contributions to Republicans from Mr. Abramoff, his clients and his associates.
As it appears O'Donnell isn't inclined to read things about subjects he pretends to be expert in, it is by no means surprising he wasn't aware of any of this.
On the other hand, as a good Democrat operative, it's just as possible he was misrepresenting the truth and forgot he was talking to the man at the top of the scandal.
As MSNBC hosts rarely have anyone on their shows that don't completely agree with them, O'Donnell might be used to saying whatever he wants irrespective of the truth with total impunity.
One imagines Lawrence complaining to his producer after the show, "I told you to remind me whenever you've scheduled someone that isn't a liberal shill like I am."
Next time, heads will roll!