In a seven-minute segment on Friday, MSNBC political analyst, former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean did not apologize for his speculation during Monday night's presidential debate about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's use of cocaine. As a reminder, here's the specific tweet: "Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?"
Instead, as will be seen in the video of the first portion of that segment which follows, Dean apologized for "using innuendo," but did not back away from his evidence-free speculation when given the chance.
Along with Dean's long history in Democratic politics, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle noted to viewers that he's currently also "a surrogate for the Clinton campaign."
So where's the demand for an apology from Mrs. Clinton? Oh, I forgot; The press only demands that Republicans and conservatives criticize and apologize for the actions of fellow party members.
The video segment shows that Dean wanted to change the subject from the very start. At first Ruhle resisted, but Dean pretty quickly went elsewhere anyway. Ruhle let him — and agreed with him:
Transcript (bolds are mine; HT Hot Air):
STEPHANIE RUHLE: Howard Dean has called Donald Trump a crazy person and a serial liar, but now Governor Dean is on the receiving end of some criticism for suggesting Trump uses cocaine. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted "this is nuts." And the left-leaning website Vox said, "Dean disgraced himself with his remarks."
I want to bring in former governor Howard Dean right now. He’s also an MSNBC contributor and former DNC chairman and a surrogate for the Clinton campaign. Good morning, Governor Dean. I have got to remind people, you did tweet this and and then you doubled down earlier this week with Kate Snow. Just take a look.
HOWARD DEAN: Right.
(previous clip begins)
DEAN: He sniffs during the, during the presentation, which is something that users do. He also has grandiosity, which is something that accompanies that problem. Do I think at 70 years old he has a cocaine habit? Probably not. It’s something that I think would be interesting to ask him and see if he ever had a problem with that.
(end of previous clip)
RUHLE: Do you stand by saying that? I mean, it's been a few days —
DEAN: I’m smiling because you said, "Right now, he’s a contributor for MSNBC." Does that mean tomorrow I may not be?
RUHLE: Of course not. I’m saying your newest endeavor —
DEAN: No-no-no. So okay, let me be serious about this. First of all, Donald Trump was up in the wee hours of the morning. I just saw Katy Tur’s tweets. He was tweeting at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning about sex tapes. This is a guy running for president of the United States.
RUHLE: Hold on a second. Listen. We’re going to talk about Donald, and Donald gives you low-hanging fruit to go after every day, just like why is he tweeting at 3:00 a.m. but you’re a member of the Democratic Party. Michelle Obama, who has had the line, "When they go low, we go high." Saying that Donald Trump was maybe coked up — come on, he has no history of that.
DEAN: If I could — well, I don’t know that we know that. If we — if I could finish my sentence.
RUHLE: Sorry, you're right.
DEAN: What I was about to say was that people who stay up at 3:00 and 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning tweeting about sex tapes, these are not normal people. And there is something the matter with him, and I don’t know what it is.
So let me say this: I would be very willing to apologize, not to Donald Trump. But I don’t think using innuendo is a good thing, but the problem is much greater than that.
I would like the media of this country to apologize. You have used a double — not you personally — but we have used a double standard on Donald Trump and created Donald Trump. $2 billion worth of free time. Why? Because his ratings are great. The Trump show, the Trump Chinese ties and the Trump meat and the Trump all this stuff keeping Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders off the air on the night of the Florida primary.
Calling in to talk shows, including the most venerable talk shows in the country, the Sunday talk shows. You think Tim Russert or Bob Schieffer would have let a candidate call in to the talk shows in his pajamas? The media has given this guy a free ride in the beginning because he was great for the ratings. The media’s only job is not to entertain. The real job of the media is to defend democracy by calling all of us out.
Dean would have an argument if the press had been calling Bill and then Hillary Clinton out for their scandals and disgraceful behavior during the past quarter-century, but it hasn't, so he doesn't.
If there's a genuine argument, it would be that the press indulged Trump during the primary process because it also believed that he was the weakest of the candidates, and that Mrs. Clinton would wipe the floor with him in the general election.
But the current fury of Democrats with the press right now has everything to do with the fact that Trump would appear to have a chance of defying the odds. The press, having to an extent enabled Trump, is having to go as far as it ever has to defeat a Republican.
Perhaps Dean, in his position at MSNBC, was complaining about all of Trump's free publicity in late 2015 and early 2016 as Trump rolled up repeated primary victories against theoretically stronger opponents. But most of the rest of the press, though complaining about Trump, hardly ever looked inward to see how much it was enabling him — or thought it was a marvelous idea.
The idea that Dean is now using complaints about press coverage as an excuse not to apologize for calling a guy who doesn't even drink alcoholic beverages a coke user is so rich in hypocrisy that the former Vermont governor could be a billionaire if he could somehow cash all of that hypocrisy in.
I'm continuing with an additional portion of the interview transcript which is not part of the video above, because Dean made several representations (bolded) which are laughably and historically untrue.
RUHLE: And Donald Trump is the nominee for the Republican Party. He did win the primary.
DEAN: And why do you think that is, having beat three or four or six people who were perfectly capable of being an adequate president of the United States? It’s because the mainstream media gave him a pass. When his surrogates said that Hillary Clinton had Parkinson’s disease and would be dead in six months, did I hear any pompous hand-wringing editorials on Bloomberg News? No, I didn’t. So I’m always —
RUHLE: When Rudy Giuliani was going after Hillary Clinton’s health, I promise you we raised our hands. Our own Chris Matthews went after Rudy Giuliani himself. Donald Trump got the nomination. Can we say it’s the media’s fault? Is there not a large part of this country who has said, ‘We want change whether it’s Donald or not’? The media wanted change or the country wanted change?
DEAN: I think the media’s job, above all, and yes, you have to make money and you have to have ratings — the media’s job above all is to protect American democracy by telling the truth. And for eight months of Donald Trump’s campaign, you gave him free air time, let him call in, let him say anything he wanted. Again, this is not about you personally, and it’s not about MSNBC.
I’m proud to be a contributor of MSNBC, even if I may not be tomorrow, but I think this is a serious problem. I’m not unwilling to apologize for using innuendo. I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. Donald Trump has used innuendo from the day he got into this campaign, and you media have not called him on it. You are calling him on it now. It’s a little late after he knocked off some very capable Republican people who could have given us a real race and had confidence that either one of these people could have been a good president. We don’t have that confidence now. We have somebody running who is completely incompetent and you know shouldn’t be President of the United States, and so do evidently all the editorial boards in this country including those of the most conservative papers in the United States.
As to the first and third bolded items, where Dean describes the Republicans as having other candidates who "could have been a good president," the Democratic Party and its media apparatchiks have described every Republican presidential candidate, since Dwight Eisenhower, with the possible exception of George H.W. Bush in 1992, as either intellectually not up to the job (with much worse adjectives) or incredibly dangerous people.
Thomas Dewey, Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, and now Trump were and have been relentlessly characterized in Hitleresque fashion. Goldwater, Nixon and to a lesser extend Mitt Romney (with the utterly fictional "war on women") were going to make domestic repression centerpieces of their agenda. George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Reagan were dunces. There's absolutely no reason, based on the historical pattern seen almost every time since World War II, to believe that the Democrats and the press wouldn't have demonized whoever else the Republican Party might have nominated.
As to Trump's "innuendos," they have been, since Day 1, been noted by the media, but they couldn't resist Trump and, as argued above, likely relished the ratings boost Trump gave them as a win-win: We get more viewers, and the GOP gets their worst candidate. The press surely thought that the second part of that equation would have been obvious by now, but it's not.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.