MSNBC: Harassment of Trump Officials a Tool to Avoid Genocide

Over the weekend, MSNBC repeatedly failed to condemn the removal of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from a Virginia restaurant because of her political affiliation. The story received only minutes of coverage, often being squeezed into the last moments of a program in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of the immigration crisis, but the tacit approval of the removal was remarkable. 

On Saturday’s MSNBC Live with Alex Witt, former White House aide Peter Emerson supported the restauranteur’s actions with great dramatic effect. Asked if he thought it was appropriate, he responded: “Absolutely. This is a time for moral and ethical courage. It's not time for courtesies.” The behavior of the Trump administration, according to Emerson, “demands, demands some public response that's appropriate.” The appropriateness of public humiliation of government officials went unquestioned. 

 


 

Emerson went on to reaffirm his stance: “So, I'm all in favor of that because, let's not forget what happened in Germany when people were silent, Cambodia, Rwanda, now Myanmar with the Rohingyas,” in an apparent reference to the genocidal regimes in those countries. Alex Witt, for her part, agreed and observed that there are “Too many people being silently complacent.”

Things did not get much better on Sunday. On Kasie DC, Vice reporter Shawna Thomas refused to classify Sanders’ treatment as wrong. Assessing the situation, she asked rhetorically if that was “the right way for the owner of that restaurant to handle the situation of Sarah Sanders eating in that restaurant? Well, it's definitely not going to further the conversation.” Not exactly a condemnation.

Then, she turned to whataboutism and questioned the behavior of Sanders: “Was Sarah Sanders using her White House account, her at press secretary Twitter account to basically rally the anger against this restaurant in Virginia? Was that a proper use of her function and her title.” Both people, then, were in some way guilty in her mind. 

The Daily Beasts’ Betsy Woodruff also chimed in: “The other piece of this is that it doesn't frighten the White House or Republicans to have these protesters show up.” Instead, she said Republicans relish such treatment because, “these kind of protests result in sort of a conservative backlash that the White House likely believes can be politically useful to them.” Any outrage about Sanders, according to Woodruff, is little more than a political ploy. 

Over the weekend, MSNBC journalists alternated among outright approval of the treatment, victim-blaming, and even cynicism. Almost anything but real disapproval

 

The full transcripts can be found below:

MSNBC Live with Alex Witt
6/25/18
1:55:10PM- 1:56:00PM (50 secs)


ALEX WITT: Is all of this fair game, in your opinion? 

PETER EMERSON: Absolutely. This is a time for moral and ethical courage. It's not time for courtesies. And what this administration is doing, along with its surrogates, who so boldly lie every day, whether it's the press secretary or secretary of homeland security, demands, demands some public response that's appropriate. And my understanding was, she was asked not to serve -- not to be served. And she left quietly. So, I'm all in favor of that because, let's not forget what happened in Germany when people were silent, Cambodia, Rwanda, now Myanmar with the Rohingyas. 

WITT: Too many people being silently complacent. Shermichael Singleton, Peter Emerson, I want to thank you for joining us. 

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON: Thank you so much. 

EMERSON: Thank you. 
 

Kasie DC
6/24/18
7:24:59 PM - 7:25:59 PM (1min) 7:28:58 PM - 7:29:29 PM (31 secs)

KASIE HUNT: So I don’t know who wants to take this-- to start, Shawna Thomas, how about we start with you. 

SHAWNA THOMAS: There is a real conversation here about civility, right, and our ability to be in the same spaces at the same time with people who we do not agree with. And the Sarah Sanders example is one of those where was that the right way for the owner of that restaurant to handle the situation of Sarah Sanders eating in that restaurant? Well, it's definitely not going to further the conversation between Republicans and Democrats for her to do that. However, the counter is, was Sarah Sanders using her White House account, her at press secretary Twitter account to basically rally the anger against this restaurant in Virginia? Was that a proper use of her function and her title and her job as well? Neither of those things gets us any closer to being people who can actually talk about issues in the same room together, but it does really point to kind of where we are, which is-- it's an example of how divided we actually are. And it's scary that we're that divided...

BETSY WOODRUFF: The other piece of this is that it doesn't frighten the White House or Republicans to have these protesters show up. In fact, there is some evidence that part of the reason Donald Trump was able to turn the primary significantly against Ted Cruz when he was, was because some of these protests against Trump happened and Republican voters said, we want to support whoever is getting protested. So, especially on the right, especially among the president's base, these kind of protests result in sort of a conservative backlash that the White House likely believes could be politically useful.

NB Daily Culture/Society Immigration Double Standards MSNBC Vice Video Daily Beast Kasie Hunt Shawna Thomas Alex Witt


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