Heilemann Calls Willie Geist's Claim of Wearing 'Church Clothes' a 'Lie'

John Heilemann: self-appointed avenging angel and scourge of lies and liars? Earlier this month, Heilemann accused Dan Senor to his face of "lying" about Paul Ryan's presidential ambitions. Heilemann was back at his accusatory beat on today's Morning Joe, this time making the affable Willie Geist, of all people, his target.

To introduce a feel-good segment congratulating Willie on his new gig, Morning Joe rolled a clip of the opening of Geist's hosting debut of NBC Sunday Today yesterday. Willie told viewers they were welcome to hang out on their couches in sweatpants, while he got dressed in his "church clothes." But Heilemann, raining on the parade, jumped ugly: "Do you think it was a good idea to start off a show with a lie like that?" Challenged, Heilemann said that he realized many people go to church "but I don't assume Willie goes to church." For the record, Willie said he had been to church last weekend, but even then Heilemann remained skeptical: "what were you doing there?"

Note: Sam Stein injected a light note into the uncomfortable proceedings. Stein, who's Jewish, readily admitted "I don't go to church."  Ah, but does he go to shul? ;-)

WILLIE GEIST: I'm Willie Geist. I'm usually where you are this time of of the week: on the couch in my sweatpants with a cup of coffee, but from now I'll be here, in my church clothes, spending the morning with you. You get to keep your sweatpants on. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Nice! That was the opening.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Boom! Right there!

WILLIE: The first few seconds of Sunday Morning.

MIKA" You weren't nervous at all? I would have been. 

WILLIE: Yeah, sure, but you know how it is: once you get past that first commercial and you're like [snaps fingers]: all right, we got this. Off and running.

JOHN HEILEMANN: Do you think it was a good idea to start the show off with a lie like that? 

WILLIE: What? What was the lie?

HEILEMANN: "Church clothes?" 

WILLIE: You know, John, some of us --

HEILEMANN: When was the last time you've been to church? 

WILLIE: John, some of us, some of us in this country -- 

HEILEMANN: When's the last time you've been to church?

WILLIE: Last week.

HEILEMANN: Last week, huh? 

WILLIE: Some of us --

HEILEMANN: What were you doing there? 

WILIE: John, just because you're morally bankrupt doesn't mean the rest of us are. 

HEILEMANN: Fair point. 

JOE: Wait, wait: do you really assume that because you don't go to church nobody goes to church? 

HEILEMANN: No, I assume a lot of people go to church. I just don't assume Willie goes to church. 

JOE: I assume Willie goes to church --

HEILEMANN: That's a very different thing. I assume others go to church. I'm aware of the phenomenon of church-going in America.

JOE: Okay.

SAM STEIN: I don't go to church.


Religion Christianity NBC Today MSNBC Morning Joe Video Willie Geist John Heilemann Joe Scarborough

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