On Morning Joe Tuesday, co-hosts Mika Brezinski and Joe Scarborough attacked White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon as a "Leninist," based on remarks Bannon made to political scholar Ron Radosh, who wrote about the 2013 interaction in an article for The Daily Beast. In an email to Radosh, Bannon denied the remarks.
"I don’t remember meeting you and don’t remember the conversation. And as u [sic] can tell from the past few days I am not doing media,” Bannon told Radosh.
Based on President Donald Trump's remarks yesterday in front of the nation's governors that he is a "nationalist in a true sense," Brezinski and Scarborough took Radosh's piece as an assertion. "The same Soviet state that killed 300 million people and enslaved?"
Despite the different spelling in the last names of the former Soviet leader and the Beatles singer, Brezinski suggested that Bannon meant to say "John Lennon."
"Give peace a chance," she remarked.
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Quoting the article, Brezinski noted, "He said, 'I'm a Leninist.' Bannon proclaimed. Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment.”
"Well, children, that is our words of inspiration," Scarborough responded sarcastically. To which Brezinski said, "Have a good day, everybody!"
Turning to political analyist Mark Halperin, Scarborough said, "It would be hard to find a more villains historical figure this side of Stalin and Hitler."
"Pol Pot, Idi Amin," Halperin replied.
Scarborough proceeded to validate the comparison of Bannon to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution. "I think Lenin was far more responsible killing hundreds of millions in the 20th century and enslaving hundreds of millions of people," he said. "What's really shocking, he wants to bring everything down. He wants to destroy the state."
"You cannot imagine in a normal presidency someone as provocative as Steve Bannon has been but continues to be," Halperin responded.
Ironically, Radosh is a former Marxist and was a member of the Communist Party in the US until the Khrushchev era in the 1960s.
Here is the February 28th exchange:
6:27:17 AM – 6:33:24 AM [6 min., 7 sec.]
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I believe in free trade. I want so much trade. Somebody said, oh, maybe he's a total nationalist, which I am in a true sense but I want trade.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: An eruption of laughter.
MIKA BREZINSKI: President yesterday calling himself a “total nationalist.”
SCARBOROUGH: Total nationalist.
BREZINSKI: Is that the influence of Steve Bannon? Ron Radosh writes in the Daily Beast, Bannon called himself a believer in Vladimir Lennin.
SCARBOROUGH: The same Soviet state that killed 300 million people and enslaved? -- I'm more comfortable with – George Washington…
BREZINSKI: Or John Lennon. Give peace a chance. He said, “'I'm a Leninist.’ Bannon proclaimed. Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment.”
SCARBOROUGH: Well, children, that is our words of inspiration.
BREZINSKI: Have a good day, everybody!
SCARBOROUGH: This is so bizarre.
BREZINSKI: No, it's disturbing, horrifying.
SCARBOROUGH: Disturbing, horrifying. Mark Halperin, it would be hard to find a more villains historical figure this side of Stalin and Hitler.
MARK HALPERIN: Pol pot. Idi Amin.
SCARBOROUGH: I think Lenin was far more responsible killing hundreds of millions in the 20th century and enslaving hundreds of millions of people. What's really shocking, he wants to bring everything down. He wants to destroy the state.
HALPERIN: You cannot imagine in a normal presidency someone as provocative as Steve Bannon has been but continues to be.
SCARBOROUGH: This goes far even for the Trump crowd.
BREZINSKI: We need to win wars.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, what do you hear? I'm not so sure Steve Bannon who, by the way, was seen on the cover of "Time" magazine and at CPAC.
BREZINSKI: President Bannon.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm not sure President Bannon flying too closely to the sun.
JEREMY PETERS: He came in a little hot at CPAC.
BREZINSKI: Just a smidge.
PETERS: That’s Steve’s crowd. Conservative activists...
SCARBOROUGH: Can I correct you? That's Donald Trump's crowd. Steve think it's his crowd, therein lies a problem I can't believe the White House will handle much longer.
BREZINSKI: This all looks like the Bannon way of doing things.
ROBERT COSTA: When President Trump said “I'm a nationalist,” that's the part Steve Bannon knows and I've seen it up close, knows he can rouse, thinks in broad nationalistic terms.
PETERS: Even if he doesn't think --
COSTA: Doesn't think in ideological Lenin terms. First covered Bannon in 2010, 2011. He used to be with Bannon as a filmmaker, talked about growing up in working class Richmond, he thought global elites in his view had failed economically, culturally, political, destroy that consensus.
SCARBOROUGH: He is right, they have failed working class Americans. Donald Trump knows that instinctively. He doesn't need Steve Bannon. People running around going, it was Steve Bannon's idea to get the union people on trump's side. No it wasn't, that was Donald Trump. Steve Bannon's idea to push nationalism. I don't know where Steve Bannon was in 1989, but Trump was talking to Debra Norville saying the same thing about Japan he's saying about China. Steve Bannon, wherever Steve Bannon was, Donald Trump believed this a long time ago. All this press we've been hearing over the past month and a half. It's Steve Bannon idea Donald Trump is going to be an economic nationalist, please, pull tapes of Debra Norville.
BREZINSKI: Pre-Bannon era, pre, pre, pre.
SCARBOROUGH: Bannon comes in and says this guy thinks like me. The press has it the opposite. All the press and Steve Bannon. Donald Trump, I'm teaching Donald Trump how to think this way. No, Donald Trump thought this way a long time ago.
PETERS: What Steve is doing giving trump an ideological vocabulary to suppress these things so they sound...
BREZINSKI: More dangerous.
PETERS: They are in line even though they weren't describing with the same word.
BREZINSKI: This leads us to what Mark Halperin says biggest question in politics, here is what the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “Donald Trump's early weeks in office have been marked by insurgent politics of his aide, Stephen Bannon and convention GOP governance.” Thanks, Steve! “The paradox is that while Bannon-ism dominates the media and the public debate, trump's presidency will rise or fall object whether he can pass a conservative reform agenda through congress.” What conservative reform agenda? “That's the state of play as Mr. Trump prepares to deliver first address to joint session of congress Tuesday evening. The Trump-Bannon light deportation ramp up, broad against globalism, rhetorical assaults on media as enemy have produced an approval rating 44% five weeks into the job.” Thank you, Steve. “That's a modern low for a new president and a sign that the polarization strategy pressed by Mr. Bannon, his ally Stephen Miller and the Breitbart wing of the white house has a political ceiling.”