MSNBC host Chris Hayes devoted the final segment of Monday’s All In to weighing in on the retirement of longtime Republican Congressman Peter King. In addition to portraying King’s retirement as part of a large “red exodus” among House Republicans, Hayes attempted to characterize the retiring lawmaker as an “anti-Muslim” bigot.
Hayes rejected the media’s depiction of King as a “rare moderate Republican,” arguing “I don’t think that really characterizes him accurately.” According to Hayes, King “was one of the most notorious anti-Muslim bigots in all of Congress. He said there are ‘too many mosques in this country.’ He led hearings on what he claimed was the ‘radicalization of the American Muslim community’ and called for a nationwide surveillance program directed at Muslim-Americans.”
While Hayes has all too happily recycled Democratic talking points on air in the past, it appears as if he lifted the narrative about King as an “anti-Muslim” bigot straight from a press release published by the Soros-backed group Muslim Advocates. The press release described King as “a congressman with a long history of anti-Muslim remarks” and alleged that his career was “defined by his ability to stoke unfounded hate and paranoia against Muslims for pure political gain.” The press release also noted that King said “there are too many mosques in this country,” which Hayes made sure to point out in his monologue.
After he finished portraying King as a bigot, Hayes explained that King was the 20th House Republican not to seek re-election; implying that the “broader trend” that signals Republicans might have trouble winning back control of the House. Hayes is correct to point out that 20 Republicans have decided not to run for re-election but he neglected to point out that an overwhelming majority of retiring Republicans represent safe districts.
Fourteen of the retiring Republicans represent districts that President Trump carried by double digits in 2016 while only one of the 20 retirees represents a district carried by Hillary Clinton.
A partial transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s edition of All In is below. Click “expand” to read more.
All In With Chris Hayes
CHRIS HAYES: 14-term Congressman Peter King of New York announced today that he’s retiring and won’t seek re-election in 2020. The 75-year-old Republican saying he wants to spend more time with his family. King’s suburban Long Island district is the kind of district the GOP has recently been struggling to hold. Even though it was carried by Trump, King won re-election by just six points last year; which is the closest race he has had since he was first elected back in 1992. Now, King is widely described in the press as a rare moderate Republican, but I don’t think that really characterizes him accurately. He was one of the most notorious anti-Muslim bigots in all of Congress. He said there are “too many mosques in this country.” He led hearings on what he claimed was the “radicalization of the American Muslim community” and called for a nationwide surveillance program directed at Muslim-Americans. King’s departure is part of an amazing story that has played out before our eyes since Trump’s election. He is the 20th House Republican to decline to seek re-election in 2020; which is part of a broader trend. Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman notes that when Trump took office in January of 2017, “there were 241 Republicans in the House. Since then, 101 have either been defeated/retired/otherwise left office or are retiring in 2020.” That’s more than 40 percent. The Republicans who stay are mostly the Trump diehards. Like the party in general, the elected GOP is becoming Trumpier in every way. So, what does that mean for 2020? To help answer that, I want to bring in two Democratic pollsters and strategists, Cornell Belcher and Margie Omero. Margie, this is an interesting district because Peter King’s district, suburban Long Island, it went for Obama over Romney by four points but it…it went big…swung big for Trump, plus nine over Hillary Clinton, and then Peter King won by six points but he had a…he had a contested race. What…what do you see here as the decision making of King, who is old enough that it doesn’t…it’s not crazy he’s retiring?