On Thursday’s broadcast of “Morning Joe,” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski brought on Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to talk about a variety of topics, including one of the NRA’s latest ads attacking mainstream media icons and Hollywood celebrities who support gun control.
For his part, Scarborough was utterly convinced that the ad in question, which had mentioned both “Morning Joe” and Mika by name, was a literal threat of physical violence against them. After introducing Blumenthal to the audience, Joe spent two solid minutes trying (pretty successfully) to get the senator to say that the NRA is actually trying to get their followers to kill journalists [emphasis in bold mine throughout]:
SCARBOROUGH: With us now we’ve got a member of the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who’s working on a bipartisan gun reform bill with Republican Senator Lindsay Graham.
I -- well, that’s personal to us because Mika’s name is mentioned. There are a series of these ads that clearly incite violence. Any reasonable person looking at these ads -- I’m sure you’ve seen them all -- they use violent language, violent images, violent rhetoric, and it -- let’s just say it has caused serious complications for many people named there. And so let’s start with that. I -- it’s beyond remarkable that Wayne LaPierre would use violent language and rhetoric and say that Mika’s time was running out, and I’m just -- I’m wondering: How does a lobbying organization do that? It has nothing to do with guns. Threatening people’s physical safety has nothing to do with lobbying.
Blumenthal played along with Scarborough’s accusations of serious criminal conduct and attempted to convert them into political hay against the NRA, arguing: “These kinds of physical threats, I think, ultimately work against the NRA. The tide is shifting against the NRA’s-.”
But Joe just couldn’t stand to see Blumenthal shifting the conversation ever so slightly away from his line of questioning, so he cut off the senator and repeated his query:
SCARBOROUGH: Is that an incitement of violence?
BLUMENTHAL: It could be, under some circumstances. It certainly betrays a kind of viciousness that I think the American people ought to reject.
SCARBOROUGH: [quoting NRA ad] Your time is running out.
BLUMENTHAL: [repeating] Your time is running out. And, the kinds of rhetoric that are used actually I think have been encouraged by the Trump White House in its vehemence on this topic. Now, the NRA goes way beyond what the President did during the campaign in terms of inciting this kind of violence, but it reflects the demeaning and diminishing of our civility.
Top Democrats openly supporting anarcho-communist terrorists in 2018 might be doing slightly more to encourage violence than Trump’s exhortations to his supporters to rough up people who were disrupting and/or trespassing at his campaign rallies back in 2016, but hey, who knows?
Scarborough almost moved on from talking about the NRA ads after Blumenthal’s capitulation to his interruptions, but apparently Joe didn’t think he had driven home his points forcefully enough, so he returned to bashing the NRA as a organ of terroristic incitement to violence:
SCARBOROUGH: Um, let’s talk about the Florida-
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Those need to go down.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it does. I mean -- and by the way, while they’re going around making threats -- and certainly, that’s not the only video. I’ve seen other videos where they say to the New York Times something like: You’re in our targets. Or: We’re coming after you. Or: We’re coming to get-. It’s always -- the language is just extraordinarily violent.
BLUMENTHAL: It verges on a legal threat. It certainly comes close. Whether it goes over the line or not we can debate. But-
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you were Attorney General-
BRZEZINSKI: [synchronized with Joe] Attorney General.
SCARBOROUGH: -of Connecticut. If somebody was running ads against the governor-
BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] If this was someone in your office, what would you do?
SCARBOROUGH: -and saying that: We’re coming after you. And: Your time is running out Governor Malloy. What would you do as an attorney general?
BLUMENTHAL: I think I would look at the context, whether it potentially was time is running out politically, as opposed to physically, but I think that the main point here is, Joe, that it incites and encourages the kind of violence we’ve seen by its followers.
Contrary to Blumenthal’s absurd claim that NRA members are frequent purveyors of violence, it was former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford who ended the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November when he shot the murderer with his AR-15 and then chased him away.
But the senator also did bring up a good point here. Why don’t we look at the context of one of the NRA ads to see if Scarborough is right that they contain “extraordinarily violent” language and imagery that “any reasonable person” would see as a threat of physical harm? In fact, let’s take a look at the “Time’s Running Out” ad that Scarborough was so frightened by:
"Dana Loesch: Time’s Running Out”
“We’ve had enough of the lies, the sanctimony, the arrogance, the hatred, the pettiness, the fake news. We are done with your agenda to undermine voters’ will and individual liberty in America.
“So, to every lying member of the media, to every Hollywood phony, to the role model athletes who use their free speech to alter and undermine what our flag represents, to the politicians who would rather watch America burn than lose one ounce of their own personal power, to the late-night hosts who think their opinions are the only opinions that matter, to the Joy-Ann Reids, the Morning Joes, the Mikas, to those who stain honest reporting with partisanship, to those who bring bias and propaganda to CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, your time is running out.
“The clock starts now.”
[Text: DANA LOESCH’S NEWEST SHOW COMES TO NRATV. MARCH 2018. THE CLOCK STARTS NOW.]
Oh no! Dana Loesch is going to start a new show to criticize Joe and Mika! And Joy-Ann Reid! And the New York Times! The horror!
Seriously though, this is just dumb. Really, really dumb. No moderately intelligent person could watch the NRA ad and actually think that Loesch is saying anything other than that she is going to push back against anti-gun and anti-American propaganda from the mainstream media and Hollywood with her new show.
If people are truly sending the “Morning Joe” co-hosts credible violent threats, then that’s both wrong and illegal, and they should stop, but trying to convince your audience that there was anything more to Loesch's statements than just a flashy show announcement is the very thing that could cause one of your own network’s more unhinged followers to attack Republicans. After all, if conservatives and NRA spokespeople are threatening to kill Joe and Mika, why not hit back?
Anyone remember James T. Hodgkinson? He was the Rachel Maddow/MSNBC super fan that tried to murder Republican lawmakers practicing for a baseball game. His deep-seated hatred for his victims was, at least in part, inspired by MSNBC:
The 66-year-old Illinois man who opened fire early Wednesday on members of Congress practicing for a charity baseball game had raged against President Trump and once singled out House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was wounded in the attack.
"Here's a Republican that should lose his job, but they gave him a raise,'' James T. Hodgkinson allegedly wrote in a 2015 post to his Facebook account, referring to the Louisiana congressman. The message was accompanied by a cartoon depiction of Scalise.
In a series of 2012 letters to the local Belleville News-Democrat, the gunman offered scathing critiques of GOP policies, focusing largely on tax issues.
"I have never said 'life sucks,' only the policies of the Republicans,'' he wrote on Aug. 28, 2012.
The next month, he cited the MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show as one of his favorite television programs, adding that a recent show had highlighted the contributions of 17 wealthy donors to the Republican Party.
"These men are trying to buy our country,'' he wrote. "You know they expect something for all this money. That something is that (then-GOP presidential candidate) Mitt Romney and a Republican Congress won't raise their taxes.''
No TV host, writer, or any other journalist can control what his audience members or readers do. The brunt (if not the entire burden) of responsibility for any violent crime should always fall on the offender. However, carelessly accusing others of making violent threats certainly doesn't help the current political climate, especially when so many #Resistance members genuinely believe that they are living under an Orange Hitler-Russky occupation government.
Then again, if Scarborough and his fellow pundits at MSNBC really cared about uplifting the climate of American political discourse, they would have to erase 99 percent of their network's daily output.
Check out the "Morning Joe" clip with Sen. Blumenthal here.