Krauthammer and Shields Spar Over Pelosi-Taliban Joke and Rush Limbaugh

Charles Krauthammer on Friday made a humorous comparison between the Taliban's popularity in Afghanistan and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Cali.) approval rating in America that clearly riled Mark Shields.

So put off was Shields on PBS's "Inside Washington" that he not only took issue with Krauthammer's joke, but he also went after something conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said about Pelosi earlier in the week (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Look, I think if you think of this in the long run you’re pessimistic. You think of Karzai and corruption and the unreliable Pakistanis. If you think in the shorter run, in, in the tactical level, I believe the administration when it says that they are making progress, meaning they are expanding the circles of the territory in the Pashtun areas in the south and Kandahar, where we are in control and not the Taliban. The Taliban, remember, have an approval level of about six percent, around Pelosi levels, and the reason that people support them is not ideology. It’s fear. Which makes it easier. If it’s ideology, you’ve got to change people's ideas. If it’s a fear, you have to provide protection, as happened in the surge in Iraq. If you can do that, then you can expand the area under our control. But then in the long run, is Karzai a guy who can handle it? That’s where the real issues are.

GORDON PETERSON, HOST: Mark, Richard Holbrooke had a 40-year career in which he’s served under four presidents. Vietnam to Bosnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, where he is special envoy. Remarkable career.

MARK SHIELDS: Remarkable career that, just one personal note: I object to, clever as it was, mentioning Nancy Pelosi in the same sentence with the Taliban. I think that’s a cheap shot, and I think it’s beneath the panelist who made it.

KRAUTHAMMER: Let me specify that Nancy Pelosi is not a terrorist…


KRAUTHAMMER: …in case it was unclear.

SHIELDS: Well it was, that was the burden of the message of Rush Limbaugh yesterday, calling her a terrorist on national, on national radio. I did not want to put you in the same category of the echo chamber. But let me talk about Richard Holbrooke.

KRAUTHAMMER: I would not normally say that you lack a sense of humor, but, but it’s a pretty blatant example of it.

SHIELDS: I don't see the humor in Taliban in, in, but maybe you’ll explain it to me.

Later in the program, when the discussion moved to Mark Zuckerberg being picked as Time's "Person of the Year," Charles ribbed his liberal colleague for his poor sense of humor:

KRAUTHAMMER: Time picked Hilter I think in 1939, so. And again, I'm not comparing Hitler and Mark Zuckerberg lest Mark misinterprets what I'm saying.

For the record, Limbaugh's comments were made on Wednesday not Thursday as Shields said.

Regardless, what this demonstrated was how sensitive liberal media members like Shields are to any joke when one of their own is involved. 

Krauthammer was certainly not equating the current House Speaker to the Taliban by comparing their approval ratings.

That Shields thought Krauthammer was indicates just how protective he is of politicians he reveres.

How can a "real journalist" be objective about those he's writing about if he feels he needs to defend them from innocent joshing?

Inside Washington PBS Mark Shields Gordon Peterson Charles Krauthammer
Noel Sheppard's picture