MSNBC’s Ruhle Blasts GOP ‘Enablers’ Backing ‘Sociopath’ Trump

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During her 9:00 a.m. ET hour show on Friday, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle cherry-picked a hostile town hall question directed at Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst about the impeachment of President Trump. After hailing the questioner, Ruhle and her panel of anti-Trump guests proceeded to label the President a “sociopath” and demanded his GOP “enablers” turn against him.

“Democrats and Republicans are returning home to face constituents who, like journalists, want answers,” Ruhle proudly declared at the top of the segment, though never actually showed any Democrats getting tough questions. Instead, she focused on “Amy Haskins, who pressed Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst at a town hall about her unwavering support for the President.”

 

 

A soundbite ran of Haskins demanding: “Where is the line? When are you guys going to say enough? You still stand there silent and your silent is supporting him and not standing up.”

Following the clip, Ruhle turned to Ethics Public Policy Center senior fellow and virulent Trump critic Peter Wehner, who delivered a moral lecture to Senator Ernst and claimed to be able to read her mind:

I mean, Donald Trump’s pathologies have gotten worse, his behavior’s gotten worse, his illegal conduct has gotten worse. This was inevitable, it was always gonna happen. I think where people like Joni Ernst made their mistake is that they hitched their wagon to him early on and they thought that he wouldn’t be as bad as he is....It’s painful to watch, because she knows that she’s acting against her conscience. She’s putting her political interests and survivability above what she knows is right. And watching somebody wrestle with that is painful.

He capped off his tirade by ranting: “It helps to be a sociopath like Donald Trump, where you actually have no objective moral standards and therefore your conscience is never troubling you.”

Rather than try to rein in the overheated rhetoric, Ruhle doubled down: “Okay, but historically...when you look at sociopaths, they are what they are. It’s the sane enablers around them that people really start to question.” She then offered this juvenile jab at the Republican Senate Leader: “So with things having gone as far as they have, can Mitch McConnell stay in the turtle shell?”

New York Times columnist Brett Stephens eagerly chimed in: “Well, you know, what struck me about that exchange with Joni Ernst and that, I think, very eloquent woman in Iowa, is that she had been, the Senator had been rendered sort of morally mute.”

Rather than try to have a substantive discussion about impeachment and treat the topic with the seriousness that it deserves, MSNBC instead resorted to lazy name-calling. No wonder the American people don’t trust the media anymore.

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Here is a transcript of the October 4 exchange:

9:40 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Right now a number of lawmakers are outside of D.C. and in their home districts, but this recess is a chance to get away from Washington and the impeachment drama. Well, they thought it would be, it’s not actually turning out to be much of that break. Instead, Democrats and Republicans are returning home to face constituents who, like journalists, want answers. Like Amy Haskins, who pressed Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst at a town hall about her unwavering support for the President.

AMY HASKINS [IOWA RESIDENT]: Where is the line? When are you guys going to say enough? You still stand there silent and your silent is supporting him and not standing up.

SEN. JONI ERNST [R-IA]: So President Trump – I can say yay or nay, whatever – but the President is going to say what the President is going to do.

HASKINS: What about the whistleblower?

ERNST: And I’ve already said that, too. Whistleblowers should be protected, I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place. Again, laws need to be enforced.

RUHLE: Joining me now to discuss, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics Public Policy Center, he served in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Brett Stevens, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. And Bob Kutner, senior fellow at the American Prospect and author of The Stakes.

Peter, right there I guess you could say we saw Joni Ernst stand with the whistleblower, but at the same time, give us the “Let Trump be Trump.” “Let Trump be Trump” worked when it was about the President making silly juvenile nicknames for his opponents. Isn’t this a different situation?

PETER WEHNER [ETHICS PUBLIC POLICY CENTER, SENIOR FELLOW]: I think it is a different situation. I mean, Donald Trump’s pathologies have gotten worse, his behavior’s gotten worse, his illegal conduct has gotten worse. This was inevitable, it was always gonna happen. I think where people like Joni Ernst made their mistake is that they hitched their wagon to him early on and they thought that he wouldn’t be as bad as he is.

There are two dynamics going on which are difficult for Republicans. I think for most of the public, they’re horrified, or deeply troubled at least, by what’s going on, but the base of the party is still with the President. And that’s what you’re seeing with Joni Ernst, she’s trying to straddle that. It’s painful to watch, because she knows that she’s acting against her conscience. She’s putting her political interests and survivability above what she knows is right. And watching somebody wrestle with that is painful. It helps to be a sociopath like Donald Trump, where you actually have no objective moral standards and therefore your conscience is never troubling you.

RUHLE: Okay, but historically, Brett, when you look at sociopaths, they are what they are. It’s the sane enablers around them that people really start to question. So with things having gone as far as they have, can Mitch McConnell stay in the turtle shell? Can Mitt Romney say “troubling” but not do anything? Or is this a moment?

BRETT STEPHENS: Well, you know, what struck me about that exchange with Joni Ernst and that, I think, very eloquent woman in Iowa, is that she had been, the Senator had been rendered sort of morally mute.

(...)

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