MSNBC's Martin Bashir: Obama Didn't Walk Out of Debt Talks, 'Childish' Cantor 'Had a Tax Tantrum'

It has been widely reported that President Barack Obama walked out of Wednesday night's debt limit meeting, but MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Thursday was in complete denial that the Democratic president, who's merely "exasperated by Republicans playing this dangerous game," would conduct himself in such a way.

During his daily "Clear the Air" segment, Bashir offered mounds of incredulity but not a shred of evidence to contradict numerous reports of Obama abruptly and prematurely terminating the meeting:

Hmm, I'm not so sure about that...The president losing his temper, abruptly, and rudely cutting short the conversation? Running from a room inside the White House? Does that sound the like president that we've gotten to know during the last two and a half years? Or is that the kind of behavior we've now come to expect from Eric Cantor over the last few weeks?

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Politico, Reuters, and even the Huffington Post, among others, all reported that Obama "abruptly" ended the "tense" meeting by walking out, yet all Bashir could muster to refute the copious reporting was disbelief that this commander-in-chief would resort to tactics he called Republicans "childish" for engaging in.

Reminding viewers that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor "petulantly" walked out of debt negotiations with Vice President Joe Biden last month, the former ABC "Nightline" anchor excused the president for reportedly behaving similarly last night.

Bashir is making a hobby out of attacking Republicans: on June 17, he smeared Mitt Romney as "insensitive" and Tim Pawlenty as a "coward." Most recently, he wondered aloud whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was "suffering some kind of mild dementia."

Just to "clear the air," Democrats dispute the account, claiming Cantor's repeated interruptions prompted Obama to end the negotiation early. Was that so hard, Martin? That's called the full picture.

A transcript of Thursday's "Clear the Air" segment can be found below:

MSNBC
Martin Bashir
July 14, 2011

3:57 p.m. ET

MARTIN BASHIR: It's time now to Clear the Air. And although the protracted and heated discussions about raising the debt ceiling are provoking anxiety in the markets and fears for the American economy globally, these meetings have provided us with an interesting insight into the character of certain participants. In particular, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. First, you'll remember that Mr. Cantor petulantly walked out of the Biden talks last month because he says Democrats continued suggesting that in order to achieve a balanced budget, there had to be some forms of revenue raising. Mr. Cantor didn't like it, and so he stormed off. Then earlier this week, when John Boehner and the president got really close to an agreement, well Cantor stamped his feet again and all their efforts were dashed. And then, last night, Mr. Cantor came out of the fourth and most contentious meeting so far and he suggested the president had lost temper before abruptly leaving the meeting.

Hmm, I'm not so sure about that. Of course the president is exasperated by Republicans playing this dangerous game with the nation's economic standing. Of course he's frustrated that at one moment he seems to have a deal with Speaker John Boehner, only to find that Eric Cantor doesn't like it and Mitch McConnell wants to stop talking completely. But the president losing his temper, abruptly, and rudely cutting short the conversation? Running from a room inside the White House? Does that sound the like president that we've gotten to know during the last two and a half years? Or is that the kind of behavior we've now come to expect from Eric Cantor over the last few weeks?

It seems like, having failed to win the argument, Mr. Cantor had a tax tantrum, and is now reduced to smearing and deriding the president's behavior and conduct. But it's a cheap and disingenuous shot. And I think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had it about right when he opened the Senate this morning by describing Mr. Cantor as "childish." And Mr. Reid may be more accurate than he realizes. Eric Cantor's high school yearbook contained the following line written in his own fair hand: "I want what I want when I want it." Seems like not much has changed in the life and times of Eric Cantor. Thanks very much for watching, Dylan's here, fired up, and ready to take us forward. Good afternoon, Dylan.

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.