MSNBC is not known for its showcasing conservative voices. When conservatives are invited, they are ruthlessly grilled and struggle to get a word in edgewise. With this in mind, it was surprising to see Andrew McCarthy of National Review on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Even more surprising was his comments on Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
Willie Geist got to the heart of the discussion by asking McCarthy what his stake was in Clinton email controversy, “Is this about security? Is it about accountability and transparency?”
In response McCarthy affirmed, “I'm a national security guy. I’ve been worried about Benghazi from the start.”
Then, McCarthy dropped a bombshell that might explain why we was invited on the show, “I think it's a bipartisan scandal that goes back to the Libya war, which was not just an Obama initiative. That he was pushed into it by, you know, high ranking Republicans who wanted it as well....[F]or that reason, I’ve been worried from the start that it's not just the Democrats who have an interest in obstructing the inquiry into Benghazi.”
McCarthy does not name these “high-ranking Republicans,” nor does he explain how they “pushed” Obama into invading Libya. Also unexplained is how said Republicans can be blamed for Hillary’s personal decision to set up her own email servers.
Nevertheless, Joe Scarborough piled on, “You look at Libya. That’s not just owned by Barack Obama. That’s owned by a lot of Republicans that were banging, you know, banging their swords saying ‘let's go in, let’s get him.’”
Smelling blood in the water, former Time Magazine editor Walter Isaacson (now with the Aspen Institute) took this opportunity to lump the Libya and Iraq invasions into the same category and to attempt to extract a confession of sorts from McCarthy, “You know, deep inside, I’d love to hear Andrew on this, deep inside, I think a lot of people said if we could rewind the clock, maybe we wouldn't have tried to topple Gadhafi, maybe we wouldn’t have tried even to topple Saddam Hussein.”
To his credit, McCarthy avoided this trap by employing self-deprecating humor to appease the liberal natives of MSNBC, “Well you know they were right wing knuckle-draggers out there like me, saying ‘please don't do this’” as far as Libya was concerned.
In the end, this awkward situation seems to further validate the theory that conservatives can enjoy a benign audience at MSNBC only if they treat every political scandal as a “bipartisan” one. Narratives that exclusively cast the Democrats in a bad light are unlikely to be welcomed with an invite.