In the wake of Wednesday's horrific Florida school shooting, MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosted a handful of pro-gun control senators whose states have experienced similar tragedies. But while Florida’s Democratic Senator Bill Nelson was invited to appear, NBC analyst John Heilemann remarked that Marco Rubio – also from Florida – was “not welcome” on the show until he was willing to advocate for firearm restrictions.
Heileman's comment came after nearly two hours of vehement pro-gun control rhetoric from a dozen panelists, journalists, and legislators. Host Joe Scarborough eventually launched into a five-minute tirade in which he argued that congressional Republicans were serving not their constituents, “but instead the bloody bottom line.”
“Who will be those domestic terrorist enablers? Who are going to be the useful idiots in the media, on websites, and on Capitol Hill?” he demanded. Throughout Scarborough’s soliloquy, “useful idiots” received several more mentions, and he predictably lambasted the National Rifle Association. He concluded that he was “curious to see what Republicans cower in the corner on Capitol Hill,” in the face of new gun control legislation.
But while Scarborough targeted the GOP generally, Heilemann and co-host Mika Brzezinski directed their ire toward one Republican in particular. “Senator Marco Rubio says it’s too soon to talk about gun reform,” Brzezinski remarked derisively. The show then played audio from an interview the Senator had given regarding the shooting:
People don’t know how this happened. They don’t know who this person is. What motivated them? How’d they get a hold of the weapon that they used for this attack? I think it’s important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that could have prevented it.
“Senator Rubio – he would not have been welcome at this table this morning,” commented Heilemann.
“Correct,” Brzezinski confirmed, but added the she would welcome him “any time he would like to talk about gun policy.”
“The actual issues,” Heilemann agreed. “Whenever it’s not ‘too early’ to talk about it,” he added with a smirk.
Heilemann’s choice of words demonstrates a basic assumption held by so many liberal pundits who comprise the bulk of the network intelligentsia. The panelists automatically started from the premise that there exists some heretofore undiscovered piece of legislation which necessarily could prevent the majority of gun deaths in America.
Thus, they consider it their duty to advocate for the passage of such legislation; “the actual issues,” as Heilemann puts it. And as evidenced by the exchange between Heilemann and Brzezinski, those who question that premise will find that they are labelled personae non gratae.
Bill D'Agostino previously worked as an intern for Senator Marco Rubio's office.