"Sudden Respect" is our NewsBusters topic category for situations in which the liberal media suddenly lavishes praise on a conservative because he is now criticizing fellow Republicans or conservatives. Maybe we need a new category: "Sudden Disrespect," to cover cases in which the MSM turns on a Democrat who dares to not march in liberal lockstep.
Joy Reid provided a perfect example of the phenomenon on her MSNBC show today. Her guest was Bill Burton, who was a bosom buddy of the liberal media back when he was one of the earliest members of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, later becoming Obama's deputy press secretary. But now that Burton has had the audacity to become an adviser to Howard Schultz's potential presidential campaign, he came in for far from kid-glove treatment from Reid. Burton more than held his own. It made for some chippily entertaining TV.
Reid is clearly concerned that Schultz's possible independent candidacy would split the vote and lead to the re-election of President Trump. Reid opened with a clip of an awkward moment for Schultz, in which he asked an audience to clap. Burton sarcastically responded: "heck of a start to the segment."
When Reid told Burton that there doesn't seem to be a "boomlet" of support for Schultz, Burton replied: "we have gotten a lot of enthusiastic response. Just not in the Beltway or on the Acela corridor where you might be." Ouch!
Reid eventually tripped herself up. She suggested that Schultz believes that billionaires are not wielding too much influence. But when she played the clip, it turns out Schultz argues exactly the opposite: that the rich are indeed too influential. Whoopsie!
Here's the transcript of the less-than-friendly exchange. More than once, you'll hear Burton pause before responding, seemingly gathering himself rather than expressing the frustration he felt at Reid's willful misstatement of the facts.
Click "expand" to read the full transcript.
10:18 am ET
HOWARD SCHULTZ: This is not just a government issue. Schools can be bold and entrepreneurial. Look at Purdue! It's incredible what's happened here. And this can be scaled! Under President Daniels, the cost of an education here will be less expensive in nominal dollars in 2020 than it was in 2012. Congratulations. You gotta clap for that.
JOY REID: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had to ask his audience to clap twice, at a speech at Purdue University this week. Part of his ongoing exploration of a possible presidential run, and uncomfortably reminiscent of 2016 also-ran, and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush. Schultz also responded to criticism that his running as an independent could guarantee Donald Trump a second term.
BILL BURTON: Joy, heck of start to the segment—good to see you too!
REID: I started that way because, to be blunt with you Bill, there doesn't seem to be a boomlet of native enthusiasm, meaning just an organic cry and hue, to have Howard Schultz become President of the United States.
. . .
BURTON: We've gotten a lot of enthusiastic response. It's just not in the Beltway or on the Acela corridor, where you might be.
. . .
BURTON: A guy who had almost no name recognitions just two weeks ago. Suddenly, more than 50% of Americans know he's running for president. One in five Americans think it'd be a good idea if he were. So he is starting this race where Ross Perot ended his race in 1992.
REID: That means four in five say it wouldn't be. Bill, that means four in five think it wouldn't, four in five think he wouldn't.
. . .
REID: And by the way, again: would Howard Schultz prefer a second Trump term to an Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris presidency? Would he rather have Trump again?
BURTON: Howard Schultz will do everything he can to stop Donald Trump, whatever that means.
REID: Except to not run for president. It looks like your own polling would re-elect Trump.
BURTON: Joy, we're two weeks in.
. . .
REID: What do you say to people who say there's a certain arrogance to a Howard Schultz, who says hey, I'm a billionaire, therefore I'm entitled to lead and I ought to be your leader?
BURTON: I say, give him a shot. I think in the segment where you implored him not to run, even you pointed out --
REID: I'm not imploring him to do anything.
. . .
REID: What you're saying is that just being successful in business qualifies a person to be President of the United States? Is that what you're arguing?
BURTON: That's absolutely not what I said.
. . .
REID: You haven't answered my question. Does he accept the idea that he, and other people of his means, he does accept the idea they ought to pay more taxes? He says we're not allowed to call them billionaires any more.
BURTON: He literally said that in a speech. I mentioned that just a couple of minutes ago. He said that in a speech. And you know, that's a cheap shot on the "billionaires." What he was saying on that point --
REID: What is a cheap shot? Just calling him a billionaire is a cheap shot?
BURTON: The term billionaire is too narrow for the point that he was making.
REID: But isn't he a billionaire? Wait, wait, wait. Billionaire is not a cheap shot. Billionaire is actually just a description of what he is. He's a billionaire, he has over a billion dollars.
BURTON: No, Joy. Just to rewind, Joy. I appreciate this opportunity to have this conversation. But just to rewind, what you said was, he doesn't want to be called a billionaire.
REID: He said that.
BURTON: The point that he was making there, if you play the full context of it, was that the term billionaire is too narrow for the point that billionaires, corporations, wealthy individuals, have too much power and influence in Washington.
REID: You don't think they do.
BURTON: I'm sorry?
REID: You don't think that billionaires and corporations have too much power in Washington?
BURTON: That's exactly what he was saying: that they do have power.
. . .
REID: Do we have that soundbite, producers? Okay, let's play it real quick.
SCHULTZ: The moniker billionaire now has become the catch-phrase. I would rephrase that, and I would say that people of means have been able to leverage their wealth and their interest in ways that are unfair. And I think that speaks to the inequality. But it also speaks to the special interests that are paid for by people of wealth, and corporations, who are looking for influence.
REID: So just want to clarify that --
BURTON: Thank you: I appreciate that.
REID: He is not objecting to calling, he is not objecting to being called a billionaire. Because it sounds like what he was saying is, he wants to rephrase it as people of means, not billionaires.
BURTON: The whole point he was making was that people of means, billionaires, these special interests, have too much power, and if you just say billionaire, you're not talking about the whole problem.