MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough seems to believe the definition of a liar is anyone who does not agree with him. In a conversation about reaching voters on Twitter and Facebook, Scarborough recalled, "I saw it yesterday in a particular debate I was having on Twitter. Not really a debate, I was putting out historical facts, facts that couldn't be debated and you can tell, people just read what they want to read, they go on Facebook, they read the lies and they believe the lies and that becomes their reality."
The debate Scarborough was referring to was about the AR-15 in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque shootings. In particular, Scarborough tweeted in part, "Those suggesting the AR-15 was NOT a developed as a weapon of war should read up on history." He then linked to an article in The Atlantic by James Fallows entitled "M-16: A Bureaucratic Horror Story." He finished off his initial thread by saying that the Supreme Court in the Heller decision did not extend "to guns designed as weapons of war."
This led to many tweets and multiple articles critical of Scarborough. David Harsanyi of The Federalist criticized Scarborough's source, "Writers like James Fallows have, for years, been misleading readers about the history of the AR-15, purposely conflating it with the military M-16." Harsanyi also gave a history lesson of his own, "ArmaLite and its parent company Colt, marketed the AR ('ArmaLite Rifle') directly to the civilian marketplace in the early 1960s—before its more powerful version was adopted by the US military."
Scarborough retweeted a tweet from a supporter that contained a screenshot of Wikipedia falsely describing the AR-15 as an "assault rifle," but unwittingly for both of them, also pointed out that the weapon was "adopted by the United States Armed Forces as the M16 rifle" as opposed to being designed for the military and then for civilian use, as was Scarborough's original argument.
Firearms expert Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon also gave a detailed thread about the history of the AR-15 and its lethality as compared to the M-16. When confronted by a Twitter user that the AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, not an automatic one for military use, Scarborough doubled down and told the user to "Read. Be better. Be best."
As for the "weapon of war" contention, National Review's Dan McLaughlin pointed out the obvious: that all weapons are designed to kill and thus could be used in war and that historically, "Muskets were designed as weapons of war." Scarborough, ever the voice of intellectual reason, replied, "Boy, you got me there, Dan."
Scarborough's arguments were bad and the evidence to back up those arguments was, to put it politely, flimsy.
With his Twitter debate over the AR-15 as context of what he considers fact-less views, Scarborough and fellow co-host Mika Brzezinski went on to condemn Facebook. Scarborough said that "they have absolutely no standards. They allow lies to stand." Brzezinski wondered how history is going to look back at Facebook and Big Tech and the impact they have had "on our democracy." They replied said, "It's not going to be good." If Scarborough's view of a lie is anything that contradicts his view, perhaps it is a good thing Facebook has not lived up to his standards.
If Tuesday's segment and Monday's Twitter bout are proof of anything, it is that Scarborough thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is a liar. Harsanyi, Gutowski, and others who called Scarborough out on his flimsy logic, ignorance, or historic inaccuracies showed that Scarborough became someone who he claims to loathe: someone who reads untruths over and over again to the point where he accepts the untruth as truth.
The following is a transcript from the March 19 show:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what, Mika, I saw it yesterday in particular debate I was having on Twitter. Not really a debate, I was actually putting out historical facts, facts that couldn't be debated and you can tell, people just read what they want to read, they go on Facebook, they read the lies and they believe the lies and that becomes their reality. So you ask why can Donald Trump lie as much as he does? And objectively or you can actually look at documents and say “That’s not true, that’s not true, that’s not true, that’s” so much of it has to do with Facebook he buys a lot of ads on Facebook.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: And there's no standards on Facebook.
SCARBOROUGH: And as Facebook has shown us, they have absolutely no standards. They allow lies to stand.
BRZEZINSKI: It’s really going to be interesting how history looks at technology and Facebook, and Big Tech…
SCARBOROUGH: I can tell you right now…
BRZEZINSKI: and its impact on our democracy
SCARBOROUGH: It’s not going to be good
BRZEZINSKI: It’s not going to be good.