On his first day at MSNBC, new host Martin Bashir immediately adopted the network's liberal line, attacking a conservative Congressman for advocating severe spending cuts, deriding it as "the most disingenuous play on the American people."
Previewing the interview with Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois, Bashir noted that he has refused congressional health care. The anchor solemnly wondered, "Is that his idea of health care for every American?"
Bashir, who previously co-anchored ABC's Nightline, offered this loaded question to the Republican: "You're a freshman in this Congress. Are you satisfied that your first significant act in Washington will help bring the government to a standstill?"
The cable host closed out this interview and then snidely segueing to his next guest: "And for more on the political ramifications of this budget battle, including, hopefully, a little truth serum, let's bring in NBC news analyst and senior political editor at the Huffington Post, Howard Fineman."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 3:10pm EST, follows:
MARTIN BASHIR: And when we come back, a congressman who refuses health care, even with a wife who has a preexisting condition. Is that his idea of health care for every American?
BASHIR: Now to the possible government shutdown looming at end of the week. Both parties say they're considering a Republican plan to keep things up and running, but the clock is ticking. Speaker of the House John Boehner says continuing to do the people's work, well, it's a moral issue.
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER: We have a moral responsibility to address the problems that we face and that means working together to cut spending and to rein in government, not shutting it down.
BASHIR: Congressman Joe Walsh is a Republican from Illinois and he joins me live from the capitol. Mr. Walsh, good afternoon.
REP. JOE WALSH: Good afternoon, Martin. Congrats on the show.
BASHIR: Thank you very much. You're a freshman in this Congress. Are you satisfied that your first significant act in Washington will help bring the government to a standstill?
WALSH: You know, absolutely. Republicans have been clear that we don't want a shut down government. And I think it's very impressive that we sent a two-week- a two-week budget over to the Democrats in the Senate to try to keep the dialogue going so that we can avoid shutting down government. But, Martin, make no mistake, they sent us here to cut spending, and that's what's in this two-week CR.
BASHIR: Let's just sit for a moment on the cutting and spending. Isn't this the most disingenuous play on the American people? Because from Planned Parenthood to collective bargaining in Wisconsin, spending cuts is the excuse. But the real target, well, that's your political opponents.
WALSH: No. You know what? Martin, spending cuts are the real truth. That's why 87 Republican freshmen were sent to Washington. The Speaker alluded to it as a moral issue. It is a moral issue. Our country's broke and that's because we're spending too much. We're on a path right now that's going to bankrupt our kids and grand kids and that's morally irresponsible. That's almost criminal to do to future generations. The Republicans are keeping their word, and we're systemically going to go at the spending problem.
BASHIR: You've said President Obama ought to be ashamed of himself for not dealing with- for not dealing with entitlements in his budget. You say it's time to raise the retirement age and means test Social Security. But, do you have support from Speaker John Boehner?
WALSH: Absolutely. Look at Paul Ryan. Look at Paul Ryan to the north of me in Wisconsin. He has been a leader on this. He stuck his neck out last year and proposed reforms of Medicare and Social Security. Martin, I stand by those words. The President put out a budget and he should be ashamed of himself because he punted on entitlement reform. And everybody in this town knows that you've got to have a serious dialogue about Social Security and Medicare because that's where the bulk of the spending is. The Republicans are not going to be afraid to take the lead on this. And I think the American people are ready for that discussion.
BASHIR: Is it true that your own wife has decided to reject any health care insurance at this time?
WALSH: I pledged a year ago that, if I were elected, I'd turn down all congressional health care and retirement benefits. I just don't believe, as a member of Congress, you should take those. I don't want to increase the federal footprint, no matter how much it costs. It means a lot to me. And my wife was with me every step of the way. She had a procedure last week, Martin. She did have a preexisting condition and like a lot of Americans we have to pay that out of our own pock.
BASHIR: And how did the procedure go, by the way?
WALSH: Thank you. It well and she's recouping. Thank you.
BASHIR: And how much did it cost you?
WALSH: Uh, you know, I don't want to get into that, but it's something I'm going to feel. It's going to take me a while to pay off.
BASHIR: Okay, Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois. Thank you.
WALSH: Martin, thank you.
BASHIR: And for more on the political ramifications of this budget battle, including, hopefully, a little truth serum, let's bring in NBC news analyst and senior political editor at the Huffington Post, Howard Fineman.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.