MSNBC’s Krystal Ball served up a piping hot slice of hypocrisy on Monday evening. Appearing as a guest on PoliticsNation, Ball joined host Al Sharpton in complaining that Republicans have no agenda other than hating Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The co-host of The Cycle declared, "I mean, essentially what the Republican Party has been running on and has been fueled by is emotion. Right? Anger, fear, hatred."
Anger, fear, and hatred, you say? That sounds eerily similar to the way MSNBC operates. The Lean Forward network regularly tries to stoke anger, fear, and hatred toward conservatives and Republicans. In fact, Ball’s comment came just two hours before Chris Hayes engaged in fear-mongering on his program, All In.
Hayes did a long, in-depth story on the state of politics in Kansas (which he finds to be alarmingly conservative, naturally). The host warned:
You might have noticed that Kansas has been something of an innovator in political absurdism lately. It’s become the kind of state that threatens to export its bizarre, draconian ideas as other states look to it as an example.
Later in the package, Hayes struck an even more ominous tone:
With the moderate majority defeated in the state Senate, the grand conservative experiment has been allowed to proceed unchecked in Kansas.
He then played a clip of the state’s Senate minority leader, Democrat Anthony Hensley, fretting:
[Gov. Sam] Brownback now has in the numbers, in both the House and the Senate, that he can do pretty much whatever he wants without working in any sort of bipartisan manner.
Hayes followed that sound bite with some dire Middle Eastern imagery, saying, “Local progressives have coined the term Brownbackistan to describe the state of their state.”
This attempt to paint one particular state as a conservative house of horrors called to mind what MSNBC’s Karen Finney -- a former DNC communications chief -- did on her program Disrupt last August. On that occasion, Finney warned of the “frighteningly well-organized” Republican government in North Carolina. One of her guests referred to the state as “the laboratory where the GOP has perfected its Frankenstein monster.”
Of course, fear is closely related to anger and hatred, and MSNBC frequently taps into all three emotions at once. One good way to stir up anger, hatred, and fear is to make a terrorist comparison, which is what a panel on Now with Alex Wagner did last July while discussing the Tea Party:
MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter: “It’s like negotiating with terrorists....”
Host Alex Wagner: “Hostage takers, sure.”
Alter: “...They [Republicans] must understand that they will pay a price with patriotic Americans who understand that shutting down the government, which is what the Republicans are talking about, is an unpatriotic act....They have to feel the heat over and over again that they are acting against the best interests of the United States. That’s not happening, yet.”
MSNBC contributor Joy Reid: “To put it another way, when somebody is threatening to bomb the stadium, you don’t go out and make a speech about how you’re willing to dismantle the stadium in order to appease them.”
I’m sure we all remember the comment that led to Martin Bashir’s downfall at MSNBC. Was he not appealing to liberal hatred when he suggested that Sarah Palin deserved a “dose of discipline” from 18th-century slavemaster Thomas Thistlewood, infamous for literally forcing his slaves to eat human excrement?
Chris Matthews spouts left-wing anger, fear, and hatred on a regular basis on his show Hardball. In fact, we at the Media Research Center devote an entire category to Matthews’ ravings in our annual “Best Notable Quotables” of the year awards.
And Krystal Ball herself has not been afraid to employ the anger, fear, and hatred that she accused the GOP of using. More than once, Ball has appealed to her audience’s anger and hatred by likening the Republican Party to Jim Crow.
These are just some of the many examples of MSNBC personalities using anger, fear, and hatred to spice up their programming.
You should know what they say about people in glass houses, Krystal.
Below is a transcript of the PoliticsNation segment:
AL SHARPTON: But you know, what amazes me is they even go further. Lynne Cheney, she's still pushing the theory that the Clintons were somehow behind the Monica Lewinsky recent Vanity Fair article, Joan. Listen to this.
LYNNE CHENEY: I was really paying the Clintons a large compliment. I was saying how clever they are politically and that it seemed to me, if you had something that might come up during the campaign that would be damaging, it was very smart to get it out of the way early. So that's my case, Chris, and I'm staying with it.
SHARPTON: You know, the Clintons are really lucky they have her complimenting them and Cheney. And they have Karl Rove concerned about them. All of this care they're getting.
JOAN WALSH: The milk of human kindness – it’s just overflowing when it comes to Hillary Clinton. I'm so impressed. But you know what’s also interesting? Karl Rove gave an interview to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and Hugh Hewitt’s whole take on this was, ‘I'm concerned about you, Karl. And have the dastardly Democrats set you up to get you out of this race, to take you off television, to get Rove?’ He actually asked him these questions. And it just shows it’s this thing they do again and again: when they’re down, when they’re in trouble, play the victim and blame those terrible Democrats.
SHARPTON: But the problem is they're starting to believe it. And part of the problem, Krystal, is they are incredibly polarized and divided within the party itself. I mean, majorities of Republican voters support immigration reform, background checks on gun sales, and raising the minimum wage. The Republicans in Congress are blocking all of those things. Is the only thing that conservatives agree on is don't -- that they don't like Hillary Clinton and they really don't like President Obama? Is that the substitute for a unifying agenda?
KRYSTAL BALL: Pretty much. I mean, essentially what the Republican Party has been running on and has been fueled by is emotion. Right? Anger, fear, hatred. And so they'll use these conspiracy theories, they'll use sort of coded language, they’ll raise issues that they’re just asking questions about in order to stoke those emotions, because the other parts of their platform that should be substantive, the economic pieces in particular, are completely bankrupt and have essentially been exposed.
SHARPTON: Eleven million people unemployed. Unemployment insurance is still unextended. They're talking crazy.