On Tuesday’s MSNBC Live, host Katy Tur and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof turned what was supposed to be a hard news segment on the North Korean nuclear crisis into a conspiratorial mess when they seriously posited that President Trump might launch a nuclear war that would kill millions of Koreans just to boost his domestic poll numbers.
The lead up to these baseless and dangerously idiotic musings came as Tur and Kristof discussed the NYT columnist’s latest opinion piece on the odds of a war between the U.S. and Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian regime:
TUR: Your op-ed about North Korea was sobering, to put it mildly. You were talking about the chances of potentially going to war being much greater than the American public seems to understand.
KRISTOF: That's right. I’ve talked to a number of experts and the ranges that people offer of the risk of war over the next year or so are from about 20% to about 50%. And this is staggering. I mean, this is not another Iraq War. It’s not even another Vietnam war. This is a war that if it goes nuclear, one assessment says that a million people will die on the first day. I mean, this is a staggering blow to the entire globe, to the global economy. And I'm afraid that the public, and frankly, probably we in the media, are too complacent about this. It feels to me a little like, a little reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq war.
Both Tur and Kristof were correct to note that any war, especially if it went nuclear, would be absolutely devastating for everyone present on the Korean peninsula. However, Kristof’s concern that the media have been “too complacent” in their coverage of the North Korea issue seemed pretty ill-founded, especially insofar as MSNBC is concerned. On Morning Joe alone, the show’s hosts and guests have repeatedly demonized Trump as a potentially genocidal maniac and put little to no onus on dictator Kim Jong-un to stop threatening to murder millions of Americans, Japanese, and South Koreans. This pro-Kim propaganda tendency eventually got so bad that even host Joe Scarborough half-jokingly remarked that co-host Mika Brzezinski had achieved a sort of “mind meld” with North Korean leaders.
For her part, Tur responded to Kristof’s above comments by asking for him to clarify if he really believed that the media needs to cover the prospect of war with North Korea more:
TUR: We should be raising the alarm bells much more, you believe? Covering the story more? Talking about it every day?
KRISTOF: I think we should be ringing the, ringing the alarm bells in the night because I'm afraid -- and, I guess I worry a little bit also that, that at the time when there is a lot of political pressure on the President, political crises at home, that that may lead leaders to behave in more aggressive ways, take more risks. And, right now, Korea is kind of on a knife edge and both sides can miscalculate. They are both on a hair trigger. It would be very easy to have an escalation.
Picking up on Kristof’s insinuation that Trump or some other American political leaders might behave aggressively to relieve domestic political pressure, Tur pushed the point further: “To be extraordinarily skeptical [sic], you can point out that wars tend to raise people's polling average, their approval ratings, at least in the short term.”
Tur’s cynical and conspiratorial suggestion that Trump could launch one of the most deadly wars in human history simply to raise his personal approval ratings is usually the sort of garbage that festers in #Resistance echo chambers on the internet, not a serious point that a supposedly “hard news” cable anchor would make.
So what did the paper of record’s prestigious columnist have to say in response to Tur’s ridiculousness? Well, in short, he agreed with Tur and did not push back in any way whatsoever:
Yeah. I wasn't being quite that cynical, although I take your point. But I do think that they also lead people to be more aggressive and I think that it, to, to, you know -- that [sic] stand up to foreign leaders. And that's the kind of thing that in this context can lead to a nuclear war, frankly.
One might have expected better from the Times in the past, but with the current level of anti-Trump hysteria, it’s no wonder that liberals regard the idea that Trump is an unstable potential mass-murderer as completely uncontroversial these days.