MSNBC's Sharpton Sees GOP 'War Against Healthy Children'

On Thursday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton led his show bellowing about a "war" against First Lady Michelle Obama's school lunch nutrition efforts as he mocked Republicans for wanting to allow financially struggling school districts to delay implementing nutrition standards.

With the words "GOP's War Against Healthy Children" on screen in the background, Sharpton began:

Tonight's lead, the GOP declares war on the First Lady's healthy eating initiative. Today House Republicans voted for a bill that would mean more salt, more sugar, and less fruits and vegetables in our nation's schools' lunches. It was a direct assault against changes championed by Michelle Obama. And the arguments offered up, well, they were just laughable.

As he continued his introduction, the MSNBC host did not inform viewers of critical GOP arguments against the nutrition requirements, such as the waste of schools throwing out food children refuse to eat, or the expensive nature of complying with the standards, as he simply lambasted Republicans and played soundbites that failed to delve into substance and proclaimed that "the move makes zero sense."

After clips of GOP Congressmen Robert Aderholt and Hal Rogers joking about the less than perfect diets consumed by members of Congress, without clarifying that the proposal merely delays implementation temporarily, Sharpton cracked:

Let me get this straight: Our kids should eat poorly because members of Congress eat poorly, too? I mean, that's what Republicans think?

It took five minutes into the segment for the issue of cost to be mentioned as guest and Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur arrogantly dismissed the argument and suggested that schools turn off lights or cut sports, as if she knew individual schools had not tried doing so already. Rep. Kaptur condescended:

They say, "Well, if a local school district is losing money, the answer is cut good food for the children," rather than figure out another way to save money: turn the lights off, maybe you can't have as many sports teams, I don't know.

As he began posing questions to his guests, the MSNBC host suggested Republicans are "opposed to healthier kids." Sharpton: "When did the GOP become a party opposed to healthier kids? I mean, why are they doing this?"

The MSNBC finally asked a question about the issue of cost in the next to last question he posed:

Congresswoman, what about the substance of their argument about the cost? Is there anything to the cost that they're raising, the substance of this saying this costs too much money?

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, May 29, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:

AL SHARPTON: Tonight's lead, the GOP declares war on the First Lady's healthy eating initiative. Today House Republicans voted for a bill that would mean more salt, more sugar, and less fruits and vegetables in our nation's schools' lunches. It was a direct assault against changes championed by Michelle Obama. And the arguments offered up, well, they were just laughable.

REP. ROBERT ADERHOLT (R-AL) CLIP #1: I would dare say that most of you, what you  had for breakfast this morning would not meet that standard. And you would be sent to detention for what you had this morning.

ADERHOLT CLIP #2: You weren't served Snickers and hamburgers every day. That's not what my small town up in northwest Alabama, that's not what the lunch lady served every day.

REP. HAL ROGERS (R-KY): The breakfast snacks being served this morning here in the room undoubtedly would not pass anybody's test. Pistachio nuts. peanuts, crackers.

SHARPTON: Let me get this straight: Our kids should eat poorly because members of Congress eat poorly, too? I mean, that's what Republicans think?

Their bill would allow schools to opt out of nutrition rules requiring schools to limit salt, sugar, and fat, and to add more fruits and vegetables to school lunches. The move makes zero sense.

And today the First Lady hit back in an op-ed piece, saying, quote, "As parents, we always put our children's interests first ... our leaders in Washington should do the same."

They should. But the Republican who wrote the bill says the First Lady just doesn't understand the problem.

ADERHOLT: I do think Ms. Obama is well-intentioned, and I don't mean to be disrespectful to her program. I think it's just what is happening in this, I'm not sure that she realizes the full impact in greater America.

SHARPTON: She doesn't realize the impact in greater America? Show me on the map where this greater America is because in my America we're facing a national health crisis. One in three children is overweight or obese. And one in three is expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime. That's what these Republicans in Congress apparently don't understand. And today Democrats let them know it.

[REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH)]

[REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH)]

[REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT)]

SHARPTON: We have a responsibility to our children, but Republicans would rather play political games and try to undermine the First Lady. Joining me now is Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Democrat from Ohio. She was a strong voice for Democrats in that meeting today. And Helen Phillips, senior director of school nutrition for Norfolk, Virginia, Public Schools. She met with the First Lady this week to discuss school nutrition. ...

When did the GOP become a party opposed to healthier kids? I mean, why are they doing this?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH), TOWARD THE END OF HER RESPONSE: ...They used all kinds of arguments. They say, "Well, if a local school district is losing money, the answer is cut good food for the children," rather than figure out another way to save money: turn the lights off, maybe you can't have as many sports teams, I don't know. But you figure out ways to trim, but not nutritious food for children, not with what's going on with the rising incidents of diabetes, high blood pressure, of conditions for our children that are extremely dangerous for them and our country.

(...)

SHARPTON: Now, when you look at the cost here, Helen, school lunch is big money, a big money industry. It costs taxpayers $10 billion a year. So what's at play here? The junk food industries trying to get into a cut of that pie? Is that what we're looking at? [HELEN PHILLIPS, NORFOLK PUBLIC SCHOOLS]

Congresswoman, what about the substance of their argument about the cost? Is there anything to the cost that they're raising the substance of this saying this costs too much money? [KAPTUR]