MSNBC Hates Special Interests Ruining Politics — Well, Not Every Special Interest

MSNBC's Jacob Soboroff and Katy Tur have a new docuseries coming out this Sunday on MSNBC entitled American Swamp where the two lament the influence of money and special interests in politics. They joined Stephanie Ruhle on Wednesday's MSNBC Live to discuss the series, where in the midst of decrying certain special interests they ended up hyping other special interests.

The entire segment resembled a Democratic stump speech on the importance of campaign finance reform. Ruhle declared that if we were truly going to drain the swamp, "then we must talk about campaign finance reform." Soboroff and Tur tried to keep their criticisms bipartisan, a preview clip showed Soboroff and Tur listing big political donors from the Koch Brothers and the NRA to Tom Steyer and Planned Parenthood.

Tur lamented "The more you look, the swampier it gets. A murky mix of powerful corporations, special interest groups and a handful of staggeringly wealthy individuals are buying our elections. And it is all perfectly legal."

That's overwrought. They don't "buy elections," they merely spend money to influence elections....often by advertising. Advertising on....cable news networks like MSNBC. 

 

After the preview clip, Tur cited a "frank conversation" she had with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) who cited wealthy and influential donors as the reason why nothing gets done in Congress as proof that this isn't just a pitch for a preferred Democratic policy that wants to overturn the Citizens United decision.

However, such efforts were undermined when Soboroff attempted to give an example of this supposed dark money that has bought off politicians and hindered common sense policy from being implemented.

Soboroff alleged that in "Arizona, the sunniest state in the union, a tiny, tiny fraction of the citizens of Arizona have solar power on the roofs of their homes, why is that? Because of the obscene amount of dark money spent in the Arizona political system so we have to figure out -- it is a no-brainer, why wouldn’t you have solar panels in Arizona." Unfortunately for Soboroff, Tur unwittingly undermined the argument that special interests are hampering solar panel purchasing when she cited the ability to "get a rebate check" as one of the benefits of purchasing solar panels.

In fact Energy Sage, a company that bills itself as the company that helps you find the solar panels right for you, says that "Arizona’s solar incentives are some of the best in America." Such incentives include a 25% reimbursement up to $1000, exemption from state income tax on the purchase of your system, and immunity to any additional property taxes that may result from increased home value as a result of solar panels. 

Even if it was unintentional, Soboroff and Tur did what journalists routinely do: lament money in politics and the lack of campaign finance reform, while indicating that some special interests are more noble than others. 

Here is a transcript of the July 25 show:

MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle
July 25, 2019
9:52 a.m. Eastern

JACOB SOBOROFF: I think Democrats need to do is what we're trying to do this new show we’re doing together “American Swamp,” explain the disconnect between every day Americans lives and what is happening in Washington, D.C. because too often we look at our politicians in Washington, D.C. and the way they talk about the way that we all live our day to day lives bears absolutely no resemblance to what is going our communities. 

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Okay, so now let's play a clip, because if we’re talking about our day to day lives then we must talk about campaign finance reform because those big, big dollars aren't focused on you and me and certainly not the you and me that lives outside a big urban center like New York. Let's share a clip. 

SOBOROFF [VOICEOVER]: During the 2018 midterms, Katy and I saw firsthand how campaign spending records were shattered with a total $5.7 billion spent. But it is not just the jaw dropping sum that got our attention, it is where that money came from. 

KATY TUR: I recognize…

SOBOROFF: Americans for Prosperity. 

TUR: Americans for Prosperity

SOBOROFF: Koch brothers. 

TUR: NextGen climate that’s Tom Steyer

SOBOROFF: Tom Steyer. The National Rifle --

TUR: The NRA. 

SOBOROFF: Planned Parenthood 

TUR [VOICEOVER]: The more you look, the swampier it gets. A murky mix of powerful corporations, special interest groups and a handful of staggeringly wealthy individuals are buying our elections. And it is all perfectly legal. 

TUR: You can go through all of this and name every single person who works in that building and show how much money is spent on them by outside groups and makes you wonder whose interests do they have in mind. The money that was spent on them, the people who spent the money, corporations or the voters who put them into that office.

[BACK LIVE]

TUR: Stephanie, I had a frank conversation with a Republican representative from Colorado, Ken Buck, about why things don't get done in Congress. And he told me that oftentimes gridlock is welcome for lawmakers because gridlock means that you are not putting your neck out. If you pass legislation that is not in the interests of a special interest or a big donor, you risk, you risk them using all of their money to get you out of office. So oftentimes the easiest thing and the most politically safe thing to do is to look like you are trying to get things done and not get anything done at all. He was extraordinarily frustrated and extraordinarily blunt with me. It is a real problem. 

RUHLE: So the broken system is working for the elected officials. $5.7 billion, none of that money going to fix the system, to improve our education system, to address climate change. $5.7 billion. 

SOBOROFF: Let me give you one example. In this first episode we go to Arizona, the sunniest state in the union, a tiny, tiny fraction of the citizens of Arizona have solar power on the roofs of their homes, why is that? Because of the obscene amount of dark money spent in the Arizona political system so we have to figure out -- it is a no-brainer, why wouldn’t you have solar panels in Arizona. 

TUR: Everyday people could save a ton of money by putting solar panels on their roofs. They could save so much money they put electricity back into the grid, they can get a rebate check. And that is not happening in Arizona because of special interests. 

RUHLE: Dark money in the sunniest state

SOBOROFF The show sounds wonky, maybe it sounds a little boring depending if you don't want to talk about dark money, but -- 

RUHLE: Oh, no, you’re selling it, Jacob, it sounds boring, it sounds wonky.

SOBOROFF: Do not go to commercial, listen to me, I know we're all friends here at MSNB, but we were friends in high school. The same dirty Prius that I drive today is the one that I knew Katy and has 115,000 miles and it might make an appearance on the show.

RUHLE: That is not, his Prius, that’s not nerdy or wonky, that’s exciting. You guys might have been friends, but Katy took me to the royal wedding, not you. Thank you so much. You better watch this, Katy Tur, Jacob Soboroff, all new documentary series “American Swamp” premiering this Sunday, you know where MSNBC.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections Campaign Financing MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Stephanie Ruhle Katy Tur Jacob Soboroff
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