It appears that even quasi-conservative Joe Scarborough won’t put up with the ridiculous statements that appear on his network anymore. Such was the case during an interview with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday’s Morning Joe that centered on the mob attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the deadly attack by Islamists on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
McCain was asked by Scarborough whether or not Governor Romney should have waited several days to hold a press conference on Libya and Egypt, prompting the Senator to comment that he wasn't about to give Romney tactical campaign adivce and that "the fact is the United States in the Middle East is weak" under Obama and that Romney had to address "the big picture." [See video below break. MP3 audio here.]
Scarborough then used the opportunity to smack down Barnicle for comments made on Wednesday's program when he hosted the show in Joe's place:
Well, Senator, as you know, when Mika and I are off the show, Morning Joe turns into the "young Marxist variety hour." So we cannot be held responsible for anything that was said here yesterday when people like [Mike] Barnicle were running the ship.
Barnicle had suggested that Pastor Terry Jones -- the minister who promoted an unknown anti-Islamic film that led to the attacks in Egypt and Lybia -- should be prosecuted for Ambassador Stevens’ death.
It’s refreshing to see Scarborough stand up when hosts like Barnicle make ridiculous statements like the one he made Wednesday. Scarborough’s admission that his show is filled with liberal guests Is nothing new to us at NewsBusters, but his open condemnation of Barnicle needs to occur more frequently to prevent Morning Joe from being a ‘Marxist variety hour’ every day.
See relevant transcript below.
September 13, 2012
7:39 a.m. EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It is 39 past the hour. A live look at the sun coming up over Washington. And joining us now from Capitol Hill, Republican Senator from Arizona and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain. Senator good to have you on the show this morning.
JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, Mika.
BRZEZINSKI: We know that you spent July in Libya traveling with Ambassador [Chris] Stevens. We'd first love to hear from you about the loss of this man, America's Ambassador to Libya and a diplomat that you knew well.
MCCAIN: Well, thank you, Mika. And of course, Sean Smith and two others also, we mourn for them and their families. Chris Stevens was a unique individual. He literally came into Benghazi at a very dangerous time on a cargo ship. He lived in a hotel there. His life was endangered literally every day. As Ambassador, he had these very close ties with the Libyans. I was with him on election day in Libya when the overwhelming majority of Libyan people voted for a moderate non-Islamic government. He is a genuine American hero. But I also, could I make this point, the last thing that Chris Stevens would want is for America to withdraw from Libya. These people have a chance at democracy. And the fact is, there is al-Qaeda there. There is extremist groups. There's thousands of weapons. There's porous borders. And they're struggling, but they can have a democracy.
BRZEZINSKI: When you were traveling with the Ambassador, you tweeted on July 7th, you tweeted this. "U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens -- one of America's finest diplomats, also makes one of the best cappuccinos." Moving forward now in light of this loss and in light of all the events that we've been covering over the past few days, is there anything more that you think the administration should be doing to stabilize the situation, and what are the options moving forward?
MCCAIN: First of all, could I mention that there really is no ambassador's residence, so a lot of people live in a residence. And Chris -- we got up in the morning, and he made me a cappuccino. And he was very proud of the quality of it. Just a very genuine, great guy. I think, obviously, we have to protect our American citizens that are there. We cannot rely entirely on the Yemeni government. We have to understand that there is al-Qaeda elements and extremists that came into the country. Their borders are still porous. But they are struggling with the institutions of democracy and freedom, and we should be assisting them. They've got plenty of money, by the way. But they need our assistance, and particularly in building up their own police force and army so they can get these things under control. There are still these militias running around Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata and other places. But this experiment can work. And I want to emphasize again. They're wealthy. It's not money they need. It's the kind of assistance that we can provide technically speaking.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Senator McCain, let me ask you about what's going on specifically in Cairo. We get reports this morning that the police there were very slow to act in defending U.S. Embassy personnel there as the mobs continue to gather and actually scaled the walls. Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood has not spoken out against these heinous, cowardly attacks. And Mohamed Morsi who some had a good bit of hope for as the leader -- the new leader of Egypt has also been very slow to condemn these attacks and stand up for the United States. What does this mean moving forward?
MCCAIN: It's very tough. And I simply understanding of how difficult this is with the administration, he did speak up. President Morsi did finally speak up, as you know. But it is the host country's responsibility to ensure the security of our embassy. They have the military power to do that. And it was an unacceptable lapse that caused this to happen. I think we have to examine our relationship with Egypt but also recognizing, Joe, as you know, Egypt is the heart and soul of the Arab world.
SCARBOROUGH: They're a critical partner, aren't they?
SCARBOROUGH: For all these people that are suggesting we throw Morsi overboard this morning, we can't do that. They're one-third of the Muslim world, the Arab world. And what they do, usually the rest of the Arab world follows, right?
MCCAIN: Right. They are the heart and soul of the Arab world. I believe one out of every four Arabs that live in that part in the Middle East live in Egypt. Not only that, there's all the other historical implications. Look, I think we have to make sure that they know that our aid will be impacted. Our entire relationship. But to just say we're going to cut off aid and walk away, we can't. We can't, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Agreed. You know, four years ago you had a lot of conservative leaders whispering in your ear, yelling at you, telling you to be much more aggressive, much more forceful to do things that you refused to do. I suspect the same thing's happening to Mitt Romney right now in ways that only you could understand. I do understand you're not going to be critical of the Republican nominee this morning for what he did, but is it safe to say that if John McCain were in that same situation, he may have waited a week or so before bringing this tragedy into the middle of a political campaign?
MCCAIN: I think what happened, Joe, as I understand it was the statement was made before the tragedy in Benghazi.
MCCAIN: And it was a weak statement. The embassy retracted it and changed it. But obviously, the sequence of events focuses our attention on the tragic loss of four Americans. And obviously, it did not play out as clearly as they had anticipated.
SCARBOROUGH: Mitt Romney then doubled down, of course, yesterday morning when he did know all of the facts. Even after Secretary [Hilary] Clinton made, I thought, a very good statement, you agree with me there. In this case, would it be better to just wait a few days before having that kind of press conference?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Joe, it's in the heat of the battle, you get all kinds of advice. And you get all kinds of second-guessing. I'm not prepared to do that, but I would like to point out -- and believe it or not, I watched you yesterday, and quite often in your panel of people. The fact is the United States in the Middle East is weak we are seen as withdrawing and we are paying a price for that weakness whether it be unraveling in Iraq, the tragedy in Syria, the tensions with Israel, Afghans, the Afghan situation unraveling. There is a lack of leadership there, and that's what I would be talking about. And I hope that Mitt Romney will be looking at the big picture.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Senator, as you know, when Mika and I are off the show, ‘Morning Joe’ turns into the "young Marxist variety hour." So we cannot be held responsible for anything that was said here yesterday when people like [Mike] Barnicle were running the ship.
MCCAIN: Could I mention one thing about Israel?
SCARBOROUGH: I wanted to actually ask you about that next. The Israelis, obviously, for some time have not had the greatest confidence in President Obama's ability to protect them. Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a meeting. That request was rebuffed. It seems to me that this relationship between our leader and Israel's leader is actually splitting apart at a most critical time as we move possibly towards confrontation. What should the president do?
MCCAIN: I would make sure that the Iranians knew and the world knew that Israel and the United States have the same deadlines. They have the same criteria that we would expect to observe as far as Iranian progress towards nuclear weapons is concerned. Despite the sanctions, and they have been effective to a degree, there has been no evidence that the Iranians have been deterred from that path. We know that the United States has greater capability than Israel. Netanyahu's fear is that he waits and has to depend on the United States of America. And when the national security adviser and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff go to Israel and then tell the world, well, we told them not to attack Iran. What we need is Israel and the United States to be totally interlocked to present a united front to tell the Iranians, as the president has said, it is unacceptable for them to have a nuclear weapon. And so it's a very tense time between the United States and Israel when we need togetherness more than ever before.
SCARBOROUGH: More than ever before, and that certainly was curious going over to Israel, then coming out and actually talking about what you told Israel not to do. Whether you told them not to attack privately, you come out standing shoulder to shoulder and at least make the Iranians think that we are on one page. If we don't do that, that certainly makes the situation even more dangerous, doesn't it, senator?
MCCAIN: It does. And finally, the Israelis, as the prime minister keeps saying, they cannot put their future in the hands completely of the United States of America. And there is this difference of opinion, whether it's capability or actual production of a nuclear weapon, and that needs to be resolved. And again, when the Prime Minister of our dearest friend wants to meet the president of the United States, the schedule should be adjusted, I think.