On Tuesday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, two Florida politicians, a Republican and a Democrat, made back-to-back appearances to discuss gun control. Host Andrea Mitchell took a radically different tone with each interviewee – both of whom are seeking statewide elected office in 2018 – thus epitomizing MSNBC’s inescapable liberal bias.
While speaking with Republican Florida State Representative Jay Fant, Mitchell assumed an adversarial role, grilling him on his recent vote against a measure to ban assault rifles. Throughout the brief interview, she argued that the Second Amendment was not absolute, citing the late Justice Scalia’s decision in the frequently-referenced District of Columbia v. Heller case. In a particularly telling lapse of judgment, she suggested that perhaps guns ought not to exist at all:
If the guns did not exist, you would not have had the terror, the massacre that you had. You can talk about mental health and other restrictions, and everything is part of this mosaic, but guns are the differentiator here.
Fant was adamant that a ban on weapons like the AR-15 constituted a violation of Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and he pointed out that events like the Columbine massacre had occurred during a federal assault weapons ban.
Mitchell failed to mention that Fant was running for Florida Attorney General in 2018 until her next guest, former Democratic Mayor Philip Levine, was on the air, and even then she did so only as an afterthought. By contrast, she made note of Levine’s ongoing campaign for the Florida Governorship while introducing him, after which she casually acknowledged Fant’s campaign.
Levine had the following to say about Fant’s assertions:
It’s a shame. You know, you see the puppet strings behind him. They’re being actually coordinated by the NRA. You should have had a disclaimer running across the bottom. That’s just double talk, he doesn’t want to do the right thing. We understand what’s going on.
Of course, Mitchell offered no pushback, instead allowing Levine to give what essentially amounted to a campaign speech. Her participation in the interview was minimal, consisting of a single question about what made him a superior candidate to fellow Democratic politician Gwen Graham, one of his primary challengers.
Little needs to be said of the stark disparity in treatment that Fant and Levine received. At this point, even casual viewers of cable news have come to expect the sort of bias that Mitchell demonstrated. However, it is rare that we are presented with so clear a juxtaposition as the two successive interviews that Ms. Mitchell conducted on Tuesday.
A full transcript of the segment can be found below. Click "expand" for more:
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports
12:21 p.m. EST
ANDREA MITCHELL: Thank you very much for joining us today. Give me your thinking about why you wouldn't want TO ban assault weapons given their – semiautomatic assault weapons, given the role that AR-15s and other weapons of this type have played in not just Parkland but other killings.
FL REP. JAY FANT: Andrea, remember my first obligation as an elected official is to defend the Constitution and make sure we don't trample on Constitutional rights when emotions are high and as that last video showed, emotions are high. Families are still in Tallahassee grieving and talking to us about their losses. But ultimately, semiautomatic rifles are included in the family of firearms that Americans hold dear as Second Amendment right. And it is my obligation to make sure that right is preserved, as well as move to solutions that wil actually defend the children at the schools. Of which the house and Senate bills have good measures on.
MITCHELL: Let me ask you about that Second Amendment right, because there’s plenty of legal analysis that the Second Amendment, in Heller even the Late Justice Scalia wrote, that the Second Amendment is not an absolute. They certainly upheld the handguns, but the fact that there could be reasonable restrictions on these kinds of weapons has been upheld by many courts.
FANT: Well, remember also that there are very many reasonable restrictions already in place in Florida. I'll make two points. Preventing 18 to 21-year-olds from possessing or purchasing any firearm whatsoever, which is major Constitutional infringement from the Bill of Rights, still doesn't prevent a criminal of any age from obtaining a weapon of any kind on the street or through theft, or through borrowing, or what have you. So we come down to this, Andrea, how do we protect the kids? If we somehow waved a wand and said no law-abiding citizen should have a firearm, these crimes will not stop. And I can't sleep at night knowing that's the case. That's why we’re looking at sentinels and marshals in our schools to protect the kids.
MITCHELL: At the same time though, if the guns were not available to an 18 or 19-year-old, that could be one step. If the guns did not exist you would not have had the terror, the massacre that you had. You can talk about mental health and other restrictions, and everything is part of this mosaic but the guns are the differentiator here. If these weapons were not so available on the streets, and easily purchased by someone with the terrible mental problems of Nicholas Cruz, this would not have happened.
FANT: I know you're very well read on these matters, Andrea, but I will point you to the past federal ban on semiautomatic rifles. There were still plenty of heinous crimes that occurred during time, including Columbine. What we need to do is harden the schools so that when I drop my children off, I know that if someone comes in to do harm, they will be met with force. Not a policy that may or may not have an effect. S what we are looking for now are real-life solutions, realtime.
MITCHELL: Thank you very much. I know this debate will continue in Tallahassee and around the nation and we appreciate very much your coming on today. Thank you.
FANT: My pleasure.
MITCHELL: And while at the same time, more a thousand gun control activists, including students from Parkland, Florida, are rallying at the state capitol, pushing for tighter gun laws. One of the leaders of that rally is former Democratic mayor Philip Levine, who is now running for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Thank you. Let me ask you to respond a to what you just heard from Representative Fant, who is running for Attorney General, I should say.
MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE: It’s a shame. You know, you see the puppet strings behind him. They’re being actually coordinated by the NRA. You should have had a disclaimer running across the bottom. That’s just double talk, he doesn’t want to do the right thing. We understand what’s going on. I led, with the Women’s March of Florida, a massive rally yesterday in Tallahassee. The students that came up, the teachers that came up, they all have one mission: to make our schools as safe as possible. Unfortunately the Senate sided with the NRA, like with this gentleman, that he just talked about right there. But it is unfortunate. Andrea, we delivered about 7,000 petitions from Floridians that want sensible gun reform. I'm a gun owner. I have a concealed weapons permit. But we know we must ban those AR-15s. But I can tell you, Andrea, what you happens in Florida will effect the whole country. Let's just hope that people around the country that are watching this will come on to our website, PhilipLevine2018, and sign a petition so we get these petitions, to let these people in Tallahassee know that we mean business.
MITCHELL: One of the other people in your race is Gwen Graham, former Member of Congress. She is also in favor of some gun restrictions. So why would you be a better candidate than she?
LEVINE: I can only speak for myself, Andrea. I'm a successful entrepreneur who started with $500 and built a company, and became a successful two-term mayor. I’ve reformed a police department. We’ve done a lot. All I know is I’m somebody who can get things done. But more importantly, it is not about me. It is about Floridians. It is about making our state safe. It’s about actually everybody coming together. An AR-15, a bullet, it’s not a Republican or Democratic issue. Gun reform is a human safety issue. That's what is so sad about this whole situation. These kids go back it school tomorrow. What a shame they have to go back it school knowing that these folks in Tallahassee sided with special interests and NRA, and not doing the right thing for the people of Florida.
MITCHELL: We should point out that same situation is taking hold in Congress that despite all of the passion, the marches, the protests. Right now at least, Congress seems hopelessly gridlocked on this issue. Mr. Levine, thank you for coming. Thanks for being on. And we are of course reaching out to others in that race, including Gwen Graham.