Thursday, June 22, was marked, sadly, by the funeral services for American student Otto Warmbier following his captivity in North Korea. While others mourned the loss of this young man’s life at the hands of the tyrannical communist regime, MSNBC’s Morning Joe opted for a different route. How you ask? Why, by comparing Donald Trump to North Korea, of course! In an exchange with co-host Mika Brzezinski, Random House editor Jon Meacham compared the actions of the President at an Iowa rally to, “regimes like North Korea, where the dear leader speaks and we’re all supposed to salute.”
The comments occurred as Brzezinski sought analogies for Trump’s Wednesday Iowa rally from Meacham. A tentative comparison to Richard Nixon was made initially, but the editor opted for an even more extreme example after Brzezinski sought to “broaden” the scope her original question:
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So, Jon Meacham, I'm curious what this reminiscent of, what could this be reminiscent of if you had to make a parallel, a president telling networks to turn off their cameras, a president telling untruths, lies to an audience of supporters that basically treat those lies as applause lines.
JON MEACHAM: The best example is --
BRZEZINSKI: I'm at a loss.
MEACHAM: Yeah, well, the best example is President Nixon, and even that is a little tricky -- no dork pun intended. There was a sense during, really starting in the spring of '73, forward to the summer of '74, when President Nixon -- it was unclear at some point whether he was lying to us--lying to himself as well as to us.
BRZEZINSKI: Right, but can I broaden the question?
BRZEZINSKI: What is this reminiscent to even outside of the United States?
MEACHAM: Well, you're alluding to fabled and terrible totalitarian regimes in Europe in the 1930s, I think, and the idea that -- and also even now regimes like North Korea, where the dear leader speaks and we're all supposed to salute.
BRZEZINSKI: What are the parallels?
MEACHAM: That what the dear leader says has to be followed, whether it's associated with reality or not, whether it's grounded in reality or not. It's a cult of the state. It's a cult not of religion and neighborhoods and civic life and an obligation to facts as we perceive them and through common sense, which was a huge part of, really, the American experiment in the beginning. We weren't supposed to just listen to kings and clerics who for 1,000 years had had a monopoly on dictating the terms of reality. The point of the United States was that we all had the ability to look at reality, make our own decisions and participate in a collective enterprise to govern ourselves.
Otto Warmbier was arrested in January 2016 in Pyongyang after North Korean officials claimed that he had attempted to steal a propaganda poster. A mock trial followed shortly thereafter and Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Warmbier’s parents have credited the Trump administration with helping to secure his release earlier this month and have criticized his predecessor for not doing more. Consequently, the mainstream media have not shied away from criticizing the Warmbiers as ‘politically unsophisticated’ individuals. It is, therefore, not surprising that they would continue making similarly disgusting and insensitive remarks even on the day of their son’s funeral.
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