MSNBC Eagerly Promotes Dem Ad Comparing Jim Jordan to Joe Paterno

On her 2:00 p.m. ET hour show on Friday, MSNBC anchor Katy Tur seized on a nasty ad put out by the Democrat’s House Majority PAC that – among other things – compared Republican Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan to disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who helped cover up child sexual abuse for years. Rather than criticize the outrageous attack, Tur and Politico’s Jake Sherman touted the Democratic strategy to paint the GOP as “crooked” and “corrupt.”

“How do you win back the House? Well, one pro-Democrat super-PAC thinks the best strategy is launching a blistering attack on Republican leadership,” Tur proclaimed as she teed up a clip of the ad. After tearing down Republican House speakers over the past 20 years for having “shut down the government, resigned in shame, paid hush money, and tried to end Medicare and Social Security,” the ad warned: “Here’s who Republicans might have to answer for next.”

 

 

The smear continued with footage of House speakership contender Jim Jordan appearing on screen, along with the newspaper headline: “Rep. Jim Jordan is Named in New OSU Sexual Abuse Lawsuit.” The narrator ominously remarked “Jim Jordan, remind you of Joe Paterno?” Jordan has denied the charges, and on August 9, one of those accusing Jordan of a cover-up actually recanted his claims.

Footage then appeared of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with a headline hyping a rumored affair: “2015: ‘Kevin McCarthy Quits Speaker Race Amid Allegations of Affair.’”

Finally, a third potential Republican candidate for speaker, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, was shown, with a New York Post headline that blared: “Steve Scalise Once Defended Himself Against Links to David Duke.” That hit piece, reminding readers of years-old allegations that Scalise once unknowingly spoke to a white supremacist group, was published just days after the congressman was nearly shot to death by a Bernie Sanders supporter at congressional baseball game practice in the summer of 2017.   

The only fact-check or context Tur provided after airing the harsh ad was this vague statement: “We should note that Jordan and McCarthy have denied these allegations, and the Scalise story is not as quite as cut and dry.” She then turned to Politico Senior Writer Jake Sherman and added that it was “an eye-opening ad.”

Sherman agreed:

It is an eye-opening ad....Democrats are trying to position Republicans as being unworthy and unfitting of holding the House majority....but now House Majority PAC, the main House Democratic super-PAC, is putting this on blast and is trying to kind of encompass all of Republican leadership as being scandal-prone going back to Newt Gingrich, going back two decades, and kind of encapsulating everybody that might run for speaker.

He highlighted how the inexpensive ad was “running for five figures, digital only” but that what the liberal group was “trying to do is to get this to catch on fire online and turn that into some sort of narrative for Democrats.” The PAC was also probably counting on friendly media outlets like MSNBC to air it for free.

Sherman declared that the ad was part of “a drum beat of things that Democrats are trying to blow up to make House Republicans seem like they’re basically crooked and don’t deserve the majority.”

Tur wondered: “What are they focusing most on? Is it this idea that Republicans are corrupt or is it what Democrats can do for voters in terms of Medicare, Medicaid, health care, the economy, that sort of thing?” In other words, should Democrats be running on how awful Republicans are or on how awesome they are?

Sherman argued for both:

I think basically there’s a school of thought that it’s good to have this corruption in the background. And in a lot of ways, it’s taken center stage on its own. Democrats don’t have to mention it....But in individual races across the country, if you look at Ohio 12, the special election a week ago, Danny O’Connor, the Democrat, made it about some of those kitchen table issues like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. So it definitely cuts both ways.

Tur wrapped up the segment with a smug reference to a Phish song lyric: “It seems like Democrats don’t want Republicans to look like they’re wading in a velvet sea, but rather, wading in primal soup.”

This was not the first time this midterm election season that MSNBC teamed up with Politico to push the Democrats’ corruption narrative against Republicans. On August 10, Tur cited a Politico article hyping a poll from the left-wing Center for America Progress supposedly showing “that the corruption message is gaining traction against the GOP.”

Absent from Friday’s coverage was any acknowledgment of the numerous scandals Democrats have been embroiled in over the past two decades.

Here is a full transcript of Tur’s August 17 exchange with Sherman:

2:28 PM ET

KATY TUR: How do you win back the House? Well, one pro-Democrat super-PAC thinks the best strategy is launching a blistering attack on Republican leadership. Take a look.

NARRATOR [HOUSE MAJORITY PAC POLITICAL AD]: They’ve shut down the government [footage of Newt Gingrich], resigned in shame [footage of Bob Livingston], paid hush money [footage of Denis Hastert] and tried to end Medicare and Social Security [footage of Paul Ryan]. Here’s who Republicans might have to answer for next. Jim Jordan [headline on screen: “Rep. Jim Jordan is Named in New OSU Sexual Abuse Lawsuit”], remind you of Joe Paterno? Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan’s protégé, [headline on screen: “2015: ‘Kevin McCarthy Quits Speaker Race Amid Allegations of Affair’”] with a lot of baggage. And Steve Scalise [headline on screen: “Steve Scalise Once Defended Himself Against Links to David Duke.”] –  

TUR: We should note that Jordan and McCarthy have denied these allegations, and the Scalise story is not as quite as cut and dry. Joining me now, Senior Writer for Politico, Jake Sherman. Jake, that ad is – that’s an eye-opening ad.  

JAKE SHERMAN [POLITICO]: It is. It’s a bit of a curve ball, Katy. It is an eye-opening ad. And we’ve talked about this so many times before. But Democrats are trying to position Republicans as being unworthy and unfitting of holding the House majority. That’s something that we’ve seen in individual races, but now House Majority PAC, the main House Democratic super-PAC, is putting this on blast and is trying to kind of encompass all of Republican leadership as being scandal-prone going back to Newt Gingrich, going back two decades, and kind of encapsulating everybody that might run for speaker.

And we should note here, this is an ad that’s running for five figures, digital only. So what they’re trying to do is to get this to catch on fire online and turn that into some sort of narrative for Democrats. But, again we’ve seen this in many races, in many instances before – Chris Collins in New York with the insider trading allegations – just a drum beat of things that Democrats are trying to blow up to make House Republicans seem like they’re basically crooked and don’t deserve the majority.

TUR: What are they focusing most on? Is it this idea that Republicans are corrupt or is it what Democrats can do for voters in terms of Medicare, Medicaid, health care, the economy, that sort of thing?

SHERMAN: I think basically there’s a school of thought that it’s good to have this corruption in the background. And in a lot of ways, it’s taken center stage on its own. Democrats don’t have to mention it. And there’s a school of thought among top Democrats in D.C. that a lot of this stuff is in the background and you don’t need to mention it and you can talk about how Republicans, they believe, Republicans want to dismantle entitlements and things of that nature. So there’s – that’s another school of thought. But in individual races across the country, if you look at Ohio 12, the special election a week ago, Danny O’Connor, the Democrat, made it about some of those kitchen table issues like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. So it definitely cuts both ways.

TUR: It seems like Democrats don’t want Republicans to look like they’re wading in a velvet sea, but rather, wading in primal soup.


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