MSNBC is so liberal that even the left-wing Stephen Colbert wouldn’t buy the idea that the network is objective. Network host and Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber appeared on The Late Show Tuesday night. Not surprisingly, the Mueller probe came up.
After Melber and host Stephen Colbert analyzed and discussed the prospects for impeachment, the MSNBC host insisted, “We’re not reporting it out gunning for one outcome.”Colbert shockingly pushed back on Melber’s claim of objectivity: “Come on…you guys bang a drum over there sometimes.”
The discussion focused primarily on the standoff between the executive branch and the House of Representatives, with Colbert asking Melber: “What the hell is going on right now?” and “Are there still laws Ari Melber?” To the delight of Colbert and his liberal audience, Melber declared that “Bob Mueller found evidence that Donald Trump committed five felonies in office.” Channeling his inner Jerry Nadler, Colbert asked “isn’t that the definition of a constitutional crisis? You get to a point where the Constitution did not deal with this level of obstruction...and the system breaks down.”
Colbert also complained that Trump administration officials “flout the constitutional norms in broad daylight and nothing seems to happen.” Eventually, Colbert asked Melber what “The people over at the People’s Republic of MSNBC” think of impeachment. Melber responded: "I think there is substantial evidence in the Mueller report that the President committed crimes in office.”
Melber seemed to believe that the Democrats have not been strong enough in their push for impeachment: “now they’re saying, ‘well, we don’t want to impeach because of politics.’ I don't think that’s a good reason to do anything, really.” When Melber proclaimed that “we’re not reporting it out gunning for one outcome,” Colbert shockingly pushed back: “you guys don’t advocate at all over at MSNBC? You guys, come on...you guys bang a drum over there sometimes.”
Melber once again tried to pass himself off as objective before the interview came to a close: “On The Beat, we’re not advocating for an outcome.”
The facts tell a different story. Just weeks ago, the MSNBC host expressed his hope that the “hidden Mueller report” would contain “very substantial” information damaging to President Trump. In an awkward attempt to compare Attorney General Bill Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report to a 1996 love song entitled “Four-Page Letter,” Melber made many of the same points that he made on The Late Show.
Melber declared that the Democrats were “still trying to be careful, thinking about whether they put too much love or faith in the Mueller investigation” after arguing that “a four-page letter isn’t going to cut it for Congress to make an informed judgment about what the President did.”
Weeks later, Melber ended up complaining about the Democrats’ reaction to the Mueller report on The Late Show: “I think it is fascinating and kind of silly that the Democrats in Congress have talked for so long about wanting to get Mueller’s report” and when they finally got it, they hesitated to take decisive action on impeachment.
When even Stephen Colbert scoffs at the idea of your objectivity, it might make sense for Melber and the media to step back and examine the crisis of confidence they have created by their biased reporting.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of The Late Show is below. Click “expand” to read more.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
STEPHEN COLBERT: My next guest is the Emmy award-winning journalist who hosts The Beat with Ari Melber. Please welcome Ari Melber!
COLBERT: Welcome to the show. Nice to meet you. Thanks for being here.
ARI MELBER: Great to be here.
COLBERT: Now, are you…we, we taped the show a little earlier in the day. Are you about to do your show or have you done your show?
MELBER: I skipped my show for you, Stephen.
COLBERT: What? Wow, I robbed…I robbed the American people of their, of their nightly Melber.
MELBER: It’s weird because we had RuPaul booked.
COLBERT: Oh. So sorry. Sorry I scooped you. Now, you’re MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent, besides hosting your own show. It’s great to have an expert, you know, on right now, because there’s a, there’s a legal question that I have and it’s a bit technical. It’s what the hell is going on right now?
COLBERT: What is…is…are there laws? Are there still laws, Ari Melber? House Judiciary votes tomorrow to see if Barr should be held in contempt because Barr said, “I’m not going to come testify.” They subpoenaed him, and he said, you know, “subpoena-schmena, I’m not coming.” What happens if they, if they hold him in contempt, anything?
MELBER: Well, here’s what’s going on. Bob Mueller found evidence that Donald Trump committed five felonies in office. Congress subpoenaed, as you mentioned, the rest of the Mueller report.
COLBERT: Aren’t there ten examples of probable obstruction?
MELBER: Ten examples of obstruction, and then about five or seven, depending on, on how you count, where Mueller said there was “substantial evidence” of all the things you need to make it a crime.
COLBERT: Oh, okay, okay.
MELBER: And then Barr says, “No, I’m not going to share it with you and I’m going to skip the hearing.” And then the Congress says we may hold you in contempt to force you to come in court and some people in Congress are thinking about impeaching the President so there’s a couple things going on.
COLBERT: But what happens? But wait, I understand that part. But like, if they say, “you are in contempt, Bill Barr.” And then what? So what? Like, do they…does the executive branch, Barr, go, “good for you?” Or can something happen to him? Are there fines? Is there jail time? When someone’s in contempt of Congress, can’t they go to jail?
MELBER: So, when normal people are held in contempt, they go to jail immediately, like in “My Cousin Vinny.”
MELBER: Where the lawyer…
MELBER: …same hour, right off to jail.
COLBERT: Very similar, very similar circumstances here, yes.
MELBER: For, for, for some reasons that are good reasons, the President, the Attorney General aren’t in that “normal people” category, but it’s a real thing because once Congress holds that vote, it sends it to the courts, where an independent judge can rule and can force either the documents to come out or those other sanctions you’re talking about.
COLBERT: But how do you force it? What’s the enforcement mechanism? You know, you know, what is it, what did…was it John Mar…was it Andrew Jackson said, you know, “The Supreme Court has passed the ruling. Now let them enforce it.” So how is it enforced?
MELBER: This is a question you have been circling here on this show. I mean, I saw you talk to Emily Bazelon about it.
COLBERT: But I’m really curious because isn’t that the, the height of a constitutional…isn’t that the definition of a constitutional crisis? You get to a position where the Constitution did not deal with this level of obstruction and, and the system breaks down.
MELBER: I would put it in two categories. If what you want is controlled solely by the President, you can end up in that crisis, and that’s a problem. Most of these things don’t depend on the President alone. So if, you were talking about the monologue…if they lose in court the battle over Trump’s tax returns.
MELBER: He’s not the only person holding them. They’re not just under his bed. There are other people…accounting firms, the I.R.S, that have them, and those people could be jailed in real time in a way the President can’t.
MELBER: And our system in that way forces other people to follow the order.
COLBERT: Now, McConnell today said…
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: That would be nice. Consequences.
MELBER: Applause for the Constitution, Stephen.
COLBERT: Well, I, I think people are thirsty for any consequences because you see…
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: You see abuse of power…
COLBERT: …you see abuse of power…
MELBER: …some people…
COLBERT: …and flout the constitutional norms in broad daylight and nothing seems to happen.
MELBER: Right. And some people are just thirsty. That’s why they post so many pictures online.
COLBERT: That’s true. Now, McConnell said today, case closed on Mueller. Trump tweeted on Sunday Mueller should not testify. Does Trump have the legal ability stop Mueller from testifying, even when he’s not…no longer a D.O.J. Employee?
MELBER: No, not even a little bit.
COLBERT: Okay, so Mueller will testify at some point.
COLBERT: In your opinion. Your guess.
MELBER: The Congress can subpoena him…
MELBER: …and there would be almost no valid way to stop him from testifying.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COLBERT: What do the people over at the People’s Republic of MSNBC say? Do they…do you and your colleagues think impeachment’s a good idea? What’s the vibe over there?
MELBER: The vibe?
COLBERT: What’s the vibe over at MS…if I can use jazz terms right here. What is the vibe over there? Impeach or no impeach?
MELBER: I think there is substantial evidence in the Mueller report that the President committed crimes in office.
COLBERT: So you say impeach?
MELBER: So that is a thing that’s…
COLBERT: It’s a bad thing.
MELBER: That’s a, a bad thing.
COLBERT: A bad thing.
MELBER: You know what, I’ll go further. It’s a bad thing, Stephen.
COLBERT: Okay, great.
MELBER: That’s a thing that the report provides evidence of. And then the Congress has to decide whether they’re going to do anything about it. I think it is fascinating and kind of silly that the Democrats in Congress have talked for so long about wanting to get Mueller’s report. They got it. And it wasn’t like one felony, which wouldn’t be okay. Like, that’s not cool. But it was several felonies in the report. And now they’re saying, “Well, we don’t want to impeach because of politics.” I don’t think that’s a good reason to do anything, really.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MELBER: But... And there’s always a “but” after the applause…it’s up to Congress and the country to figure that out. I mean, we’re not reporting it out gunning for one outcome.
COLBERT: You guys don’t advocate at all over at MSNBC? You guys…come on, you guys bang a drum over there sometimes.
MELBER: We definitely have people who are affiliated with causes and parties and are analysts and some people…
MELBER: …are making the case.
MELBER: But, I mean if…can I just talk about The Beat?
MELBER: Instead of the whole, the whole thing.
COLBERT: Sure. Of course, yeah.
MELBER: On The Beat…
COLBERT: It’s the only show I care about right now.
MELBER: On The Beat, we’re not advocating for an outcome.
COLBERT: Okay, good. Good. Ari, thank you so much for being here. The Beat With Ari Melber airs weeknights on MSNBC. Ari Melber, everybody.