During MSNBC's Friday coverage of the inauguration, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow played up a report from the Huffington Post claiming that President Trump's transition team requested military hardware for the inaugural parade. Matthews wondered, "Wouldn't that look like a little shades of Pyongyang?" Maddow added, "It would be a little Red Square to do that." Minutes later, Maddow revisited the supposed request for a "Red Square-style show of military force," and lamented, "It's embarrassing — to be the only president with no public service or military experience being the one who wants to most show off the military." [video below]
Matthews, who had labeled Trump's inaugural speech "Hitlerian" earlier in the afternoon, raised the Huffington Post's reporting as the President's motorcade was getting ready to depart the U.S. Capitol: "You know, I love this guy who's on the transition team — got quoted in the paper today — I think it was the Times — the New York Times — that his hope was that they would include rocket launchers and tanks." Maddow clarified that it was from the left-wing website. Matthews replied with his "shades of Pyongyang" line.
The female MSNBC host did disclose that "it was a single source," and soon added that "the request had been for missile launchers and tanks....to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue — which, of course, would do a number on Pennsylvania Avenue, for one." The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson agreed with her point: "You wouldn't have a Pennsylvania Avenue if you rolled a bunch of tanks down it."
Maddow then adopted Matthews's invoking of North Korea, which Robinson and Steve Schmidt agreed with as well:
RACHEL MADDOW: And it would be a little Pyongyang — it would be a little Red Square to do that—
EUGENE ROBINSON: It would be a lot Pyongyang—
STEVE SCHMIDT: May Day in Red Square—
MADDOW: The military apparently talked them out of that idea. But again, as commander-in-chief, presumably, if he did order that, he would get that.
<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>
Just over ten minutes later, Maddow revisited the Huffington Post report as the presidential motorcade proceeded towards the White House. Matthews made an attempt of psychoanalysis during this second exchange. Brian Williams chimed in and cut their banter short by introducing a guest:
RACHEL MADDOW (off-camera): One of the things that's going to happen today — we are advised — is an unusually-large military flyover. We were talking earlier about these reports that the Trump transition had requested more of a Red Square-style show of military force — including tanks and missile launchers in a military parade — which is not something that we do in this country. But the other thing that they have requested — and reportedly, that they're getting — is a military flyover from all five branches of the United States military — including helicopters from the Coast Guard. That's a very unusual thing. The last time we had a military flyover at an inauguration was in 1949 under Harry Truman. There was a flyover a couple of day ahead of the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush at a separate event. But to have one at the inauguration, it's the first time since the — since before the midpoint of the last century — and it will be a big one involving all the branches of the military.
President Trump has said — said in a recent interview — that he wants to show off the military — that he that wants military parades — that that's part of what he wants to be a hallmark of his presidency. I don't know — I don't know why he wants that, but we'll see the first of that today with these flyovers—
CHRIS MATTHEWS (off-camera): You know why. You know why—
MADDOW: Why is it? Why do you think?
MATTHEWS: You know why! A show of strength — it's a — it's a head of state's show of military strength.
MADDOW: It's embarrassing — to be the only president with no public service or military experience being the one who wants to most show off the military, when your only military experience is getting deferments—
MATTHEWS: Is this a small-hands thing, do you think — a small-hands phenomenon?
MADDOW: No! I mean, you got multiple deferments from the war that happened when you were in your prime — and then, you want to show off the military once you're in office? I mean, it's—
MADDOW: I hope there's a different explanation.
BRIAN WILLIAMS (off-camera): Well, look at the time. (Maddow laughs)
The transcript of the relevant exchange between Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow from MSNBC's live coverage of President Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017:
CHRIS MATTHEWS (off-camera): You know, I love this guy who's on the transition team — got quoted in the paper today — I think it was the Times — the New York Times — that his hope was that they would include rocket launchers and tanks in future presidential—
RACHEL MADDOW (off-camera): That was the Huffington Post today — yeah—
MATTHEWS: Well, it also made the Times, too. Wow! I mean, wouldn't that be — look like a little shades of Pyongyang?
EUGENE ROBINSON (off-camera): Yeah. That was wisely turned down—
MADDOW: I mean, it was a single source — although, I saw it on the Huffington Post, right? I didn't see the Times version of it. And that's what they said — the request had been for missile launchers—
MATTHEWS: Missile launchers—
MADDOW: And tanks—
ROBINSON: And tanks—
MADDOW: To be part of — to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue — which, of course, would do a number on Pennsylvania Avenue, for one—
ROBINSON: Well, exactly — that's the point. You can't — you know, you wouldn't have a Pennsylvania Avenue if you rolled a bunch of tanks down it—
MADDOW: And it would be a little Pyongyang — it would be a little Red Square to do that—
ROBINSON: It would be a lot Pyongyang—
STEVE SCHMIDT (off-camera): May Day in Red Square—
MADDOW: The military apparently talked them out of that idea. But again, as commander-in-chief, presumably, if he did order that, he would get that. An at least reportedly, the Trump — the incoming Trump transition did ask about the possibility of doing something like that.