It was quite the scene on Wednesday night as the viewers of MSNBC’s All In and The Last Word saw extensive meltdowns by two different panels over the revelation that Pope Francis took time during his visit to the United States to secretly meet with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis with panelists decrying how “deeply disappointed” they were at the “bizarre” meeting.
To close out All In, host Chris Hayes brought on Daily Kos columnist Shaun King and anti-religious bigot Dan Savage to commiserate with King starting it off by emphasizing how he’s “very deeply disappointed about meeting” but confessed that liberals collectively have been “read[ing] too much into what the Pope thinks about gay marriage and the LGBT community in general.”
Continuing the self-criticism, King suggested that those on the left had “imposed kind of out of hope a lot of our views onto him,” but then went in a bizarre direction when he compared the Davis to exonerated former Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman: “[T]he Pope meeting with Kim Davis would be like the Pope meeting with George Zimmerman. I mean, it is pretty shocking and for me and for so many of my friends, it was a deep disappointment.”
Turning to Savage, Hayes complained how the story’s “bizarre in many ways” since Francis “was very public about what he was choosing to kind of intervene in” whether it was climate change, his blessing of the little girl whose parents are illegal immigrants or meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor.
As he often does, Savage went right on the attack against religion and the Pope’s “revealing” meeting following what he dubbed “a smoke screen” employed by the Catholic church to appear that they’re becoming more liberal on social issues:
I think it’s very revealing. You know, the Pope has said the church needs to de-emphasize social issues, needs to not just talk about gay marriage and abortion, but this secret meeting where he encouraged this woman to continue to discriminate against LGBT couples and then framed her as a conscientious objector....I think it really reveals what goes on with the Catholic church under the Pope, which is that this de-emphasizing of these social issues is – I don't wall it a racket or a scam, but it’s kind of a smoke screen that the Pope still believes these things, the church – the church said it is not going to change its position on same sex marriage, but then for the Pope to turn around and meet with someone like Kim Davis, and tell her – and encourage her to keep it up, keep discriminating against LGBT couples, it just shows that the church wishes it could engage in this activity[.]
Noting that the issue of gay marriage has brought together Christians ranging from Catholics to evangelicals like Mike Huckabee, Savage whined: “It just shows you that homophobia is really what unites people across different Christian faiths now and it’s disgusting.”
Trying to make excuses for the Pope, King suggested that conservative activists were at work in dropping “an atomic bomb on the whole trip” with Davis being used like “a political football.” Similarly, Hayes wondered if there was a “degree of sophistication in the granularity of who is plotting the Pope's schedule” with “some other group setting the agenda.”
Striking a different tone on this part of the discussion, Savage shot back that the Pope is “not a figurehead” and instead “very involved in what the church is doing” to the detriment of “his other messages” that “have been completely wiped out and erased by this baffling meet-up.”
Over on The Last Word, host Lawrence O’Donnell also chose to end his show with Davis and the Pope. Talking with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, O’Donnell declared: “It also made no sense to me that of all the people in the 50 United States to work through that filter to get into a room with the Pope, it made no conceivable sense to me that Kim Davis would be one of them.”
Siding with O’Donnell, Dionne opined that “[i]t still makes no sense” but provided new information by reporting that he was told the encounter “was arranged the Vatican nuncio, I am told, Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican nuncio is the Vatican ambassador.”
In scolding the Vatican, Dionne ruled that they will “have to say more about this because so many conclusions are being drawn from this and it flew in the face of everything the Pope was saying here.” Dionne continued by trying to think out loud as to how and why the Pope could have consented to such a meeting:
I mean, yes, he's talked a lot about religious liberty. The conservatives here were quite happy he visited with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They didn't expect this meeting, but he didn't talk about same-sex marriage as such. He was fighting against culture wars. So, they have a lot of explaining to do about this meeting and I – you know, I hope they do just make public that yes, it was the Nuncio who arranged the meeting.