‘Stubbornly Neutral’ Chuck Todd Shows His Partisan Colors While Attacking NRA

NBC’s Chuck Todd, who on Friday declared that he was “stubbornly neutral”, predictably peddled liberal talking points on Ebola by blaming the National Rifle Association for the country not having a Surgeon General.

Speaking to Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bob Casey (D-PA) on Sunday, the Meet the Press moderator insisted that “this seems to be politics. The NRA said they were going to score the vote, and suddenly everybody’s frozen. That seems a little petty in hindsight, does it not?” 

The Ebola segment began with Todd discussing the bipartisan support for an Ebola travel ban and the NBC host predictably casted doubt on its effectiveness:  

Senator Blunt, I want to begin with you. You're calling for a travel ban. There's a lot of, it sounds like the White House in theory would be supportive of it, but they don't know how to implement it in a way that would prevent healthcare workers from getting to the hot zone…Sometimes the fine line here, right, is that you think sometimes you have do things because it makes the public feel better, even if it's not necessary.

As the discussion continued, the topic of Surgeon General came up with Todd promoting the liberal argument that “this seems to be politics. The NRA said they were going to score the vote, and suddenly everybody’s frozen. That seems a little petty in hindsight, does it not?”

Todd continued to attack the NRA and wondered “should the NRA have a say? I mean, they can have an opinion. But should the NRA have that much influence over a Surgeon General nominee? He's not going to make gun policy.” 

For his part, Republican Roy Blunt refused to accept Todd's attack on the NRA: 

Well, you know, if the president really ought to nominate people that can be confirmed to these jobs, and frankly, then we should confirm them. There's no question about that. But just the normal work of the Congress.

The segment concluded with Todd lamenting the “politics of fear” on Ebola before predictably playing a montage of three Republican members of Congress speaking on the outbreak. The NBC News Political Director continued by asking if such comments were “responsible rhetoric” before asking Senator Blunt if he had “any advice to people on the ballot in November on sort of overdoing it here?”

Once again, Blunt wouldn't concede Todd’s point and detailed how government incompetence has caused the public to doubt the government's ability to handle Ebola properly: 

If this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn't doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there's this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it's the border, the IRS, the Secret Service. Now this health concern is more real than it would be, if there wasn't a sense that the government is just not being managed in a way that people would want it to be managed.

See relevant transcript below. 

NBC’s Meet the Press

October 19, 2914

CHUCK TODD: And welcome back, as I told you, Dr. Gabe Kelen and Laurie Garrett are still with us, as we continue our Ebola summit. I'm now joined by Senators Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, and Democrat Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Welcome to both of you. Senator Blunt, I want to begin with you. You're calling for a travel ban. There's a lot of, it sounds like the White House in theory would be supportive of it, but they don't know how to implement it in a way that would prevent healthcare workers from getting to the hot zone. What do you say to that?

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Well, first of all, we don't have flights directly in and out of any of these countries. So all of our people go through some other country to get there anyway. The question is, do you let people come here from this area that is clearly stressed. And one way to prevent that is just not to issue them a visa.

Everybody that would travel here from those countries, no matter where they get to first, before they get off the plane here, they have to have a visa that allows them to stay here. I'd suspend those visas until we have this under better control and have a sense of the carriers they are using are monitoring this in a better way than they have been up till now.

TODD: Senator Casey, where are you on this?

SENATOR BOB CASEY: Chuck I don't think there's a medical consensus yet. And I think we've got to do everything that we can to ask the medical experts and develop that expertise.

TODD: Sometimes the fine line here, right, is that you think sometimes you have do things because it makes the public feel better, even if it's not necessary.

CASEY: There's no question that there's a great fervor for this, and makes sense logically, when you think about how to stop something. But what we've got to focus I think on the source of this. You heard in your last segment how severe this is at the source. We've got to stop it at the source. I think with our local hospitals, not just the big medical centers, but every hospital has to try to achieve a measure of almost absolute preparedness. That's why a lot of them are changing, I was at a hospital in Pittsburgh the other day, changing and moving quickly to implement better protective protocols.

TODD: You know, you both have toured hospitals in your home states this last week. CDC protocols are voluntary. They're not mandatory. Do you think we should make them mandatory for a temporary basis? And basically usurp the states on this?

BLUNT: Well, I'm not sure that if you made them mandatory, you'd have a way to enforce that mandatory determination. Hospitals need to be concerned about this. Obviously the containment hospitals that we've talked about are the place you'd want to have people if you can get them there. But that doesn't stop somebody from walking into a hospital somewhere else. And you know, we're just frankly not as safe as we were a month ago before you had multiple cases develop in the country.

And by the way, Chuck, people didn't get upset about this as long as hospitals were dealing with it in the right way. You had two missionaries come to Emory, they were there, they were cured. I didn't see a single comment by any Americans saying, “We're concerned that this isn't being handled correctly.” It's only where it's not handled correctly that people get concerned that it's not being handled correctly.

TODD: Senator Casey, why don't we have a Surgeon General confirmed? Dr. Vivek Murthy was nominated over a year ago.

CASEY: It's Washington dysfunction, Chuck. It's as simple as that. We should have one in place. And I think that's part of the problem. But absent that, I believe that we've got to focus on two places. Stopping this at the source, and making sure that hospitals are doing a lot more drilling. This basic task of taking protective equipment on, both taking it off and putting it on, has to be the subject of constant drilling. In our state, for example, the State Health Department only requires two of those a year, two drills a year. And that's not nearly enough.

TODD: Senator, I'm going to go back to the Surgeon General issue here. This seems to be politics. The NRA said they were going to score the vote, and suddenly everybody’s frozen. That seems a little petty in hindsight, does it not?

BLUNT: Well, you know, if the president really ought to nominate people that can be confirmed to these jobs, and frankly, then we should confirm them. There's no question about that. But just the normal work of the Congress.

(OVERTALK)

TODD: But should the NRA have a say? I mean, they can have an opinion. But should the NRA have that much influence over a Surgeon General nominee? He's not going to make gun policy.

BLUNT: Well, I'm not sure that's why, you'd have to ask Senator Reid why he hasn't moved that to the top of his list to be confirmed. This goes on all the time.

CHUCK TODD: Will you confirm him?

BLUNT: A number of people have been confirmed. Until this came up, frankly, I've heard very little discussion about the Surgeon General. You know, I'm hearing now that the Attorney General nomination won't happen until after the election. We keep putting everything off until after the election. And that's one of the reasons that things don't work.

CHUCK TODD: I want to talk quickly politics of fear. Let me play this montage.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R-KANSAS): Well, again, the Ebola epidemic, along with ISIS, shows you how we should really secure the border. And not be granting amnesty.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE KELLY (R-PENNSYLVANIA): Oh, you don't have to worry about this, you don't have to worry about this. Really? Well, the government needs to stop acting as if it's absurd for people to fear a virus that liquefies their internal organs.

REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R-TEXAS): Every outbreak novel or zombie movie you see starts with somebody from the government sitting in front of a panel like this saying there's nothing to worry about.

(END)

TODD: Senators, responsible rhetoric?

CASEY: No, not responsible, Chuck. I think what we need to remember as a Congress is constructive proposals based upon the science and medical expertise, not based upon politics. I do think in the Senate though, I think we're able to agree. I think there's a lot of consensus that our public health system hasn't been invested in. And that we've got to deal with this in a very bipartisan way.

TODD: Senator, any advice to people on the ballot in November on sort of overdoing it here?

BLUNT: Oh, I'd be careful about overdoing it. But I also understand that if this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn't doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there's this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it's the border, the IRS, the Secret Service. Now this health concern is more real than it would be, if there wasn't a sense that the government is just not being managed in a way that people would want it to be managed.

TODD: Senators Casey and Blunt, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it

Health Care NBC Meet the Press NRA Chuck Todd Roy Blunt Bob Casey

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