Chuck Todd, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent, Political Director, and the host of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, openly attacked Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough for daring to criticize Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s father who in Scarborough’s words “is reaching out to pro-Taliban forces talking about killing Americans.”
The NBC reporter seemed to take direct offense at Scarborough’s disdain for Bergdahl's father and remarked: “Don't criticize the parents. Don't criticize the parents in here...I wouldn't criticize the parents. I'm sorry..That are missing a child. Their son is missing for five years. You know what? It is not logical. You cannot handle it. Put yourself in his shoes.” [See video below.]
Scarborough seemed taken aback and insisted that he “Can criticize parents that have reached out to the Taliban” despite Todd’s attempts to silence the MSNBC host. After Todd tried to condemn Scarborough’s disgust with Bergdahl’s father, the Morning Joe co-host shot back:
If my son -- I have a 26-year-old son. And if my son is out on the wire and he is out there with fellow troops and he writes me up and says he hates America and he's thinking about deserting and he's thinking about leaving his post, I can tell you as a father of that 26-year-old or 23-year-old son, I'd say Joey, you stay the hell right there.
I would call his commander. I would say get my son. He is not well. Get him to a military base in Germany. I would not say follow your conscience, son. I would not reach out to the voice of jihad.
Rather than acknowledge the legitimacy of Scarborough’s objection, Todd doubled down in his criticism and maintained that “I'm not back seat driving how someone parents.” Scarborough argued “That is not back seat driving. I am a father. Any good father would not tell their son to follow their conscience.”
As the back-and-forth concluded, Todd continued to challenge Scarborough and wondered if “He's a bad father?” Scarborough had no reservations and insisted that “Yes. Yes, he is. Oh, my God, Chuck.”
One would think that because Todd is a journalist he would express more skepticism in Bergdahl’s father rather than rushing to condemn Scarborough for his criticism. Unfortunately, Todd’s actions are not surprising, given his recent history of providing cover for the Obama Administration and he now seems to have shifted to defending the Bergdahl family at all cost.
See relevant transcript below.
June 5, 2014
7:23 a.m. Eastern
JOE SCARBOROUGH: This image, and I keep holding up this image that Nancy Gibbs pointed to where Barack Obama has his arm around a man who is reaching out to pro-Taliban forces, talking about killing Americans.
CHUCK TODD: Wait.
SCARBOROUGH: Who wants to wait me here?
TODD: Joe, Joe, don't criticize the parents. Don't criticize the parents in here. I think
SCARBOROUGH: I can criticize parents that have reached out to the Taliban.
TODD: I wouldn't criticize the parents. I'm sorry.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, my God Chuck.
TODD: That are missing a child. Their son is missing for five years. You know what? It is not logical. You cannot handle it. Put yourself in his shoes.
SCARBOROUGH: If my son -- I have a 26-year-old son. And if my son is out on the wire and he is out there with fellow troops and he writes me up and says he hates America and he's thinking about deserting and he's thinking about leaving his post, I can tell you as a father of that 26-year-old or 23-year-old son, I'd say Joey, you stay the hell right there. I would call his commander. I would say get my son. He is not well. Get him to a military base in Germany. I would not say follow your conscience, son. I would not reach out to the voice of jihad.
TODD: I'm not back seat driving how someone parents.
SCARBOROUGH: That is not back seat driving. I am a father. Any good father would not tell their son to follow their conscience and --
TODD: So he's a bad father?
SCARBOROUGH: Leave men and women on the line. Yes. Yes, he is. Oh, my God, Chuck.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The criticism here is whether you think as president you would reach out and put your arm around him and embrace him while making this announcement.
SCARBOROUGH: I’m talking about as a father. No, I would not. I'm talking about as a father. And I can say this as a father of a 26-year-old son. I would never in a million years tell him to follow his conscience and desert his comrades in arm who depend on him. I would say son -- I'd say Joey, Andrew if you desert, they're going to have to come looking for you. And if they come looking for you, chances are good some of them are going to get killed. Son, stay where you are. I'm sorry. This is obvious. And I don't know why anybody's not -- can't say this on TV.
BRZEZINSKI: Listen, as a father you know that it must be impossible to judge another father in his time of need. But you can't judge --
SCARBOROUGH: No, it's not.
BRZEZINSKI: But you can judge our commander in chief for making these decisions.
SCARBOROUGH: I would never ever allow my son to put other American troops who are on the line in danger.
SCARBOROUGH: And if he was writing me an e-mail, I would -- I'm sorry. Am I all alone in the world?
BRZEZISKI: You're not.
SCARBOROUGH: Would somebody else–hold on. Am I alone in America? Would somebody say, son, stay right where you are. Okay, don't move. We're going to take care of you. We need to get you out of there. I'm not going to allow you to put other men and women in uniform in danger. That's not being a good father saying follow your conscience.
BRZEZINSKI: Joe, I'll go right there and get in this conversation. I'm going to tell you right now, there's no problem with what you're saying about how you feel about how this father reacted. The story is what the president did with this family and whether or not that was the right decision given all the other things surrounding these decisions and whether it was helpful or hurtful to the national conversation. That's all. And I think when you start judging parents, a lot of people are going to come at you. And I’d rather not see that.
HAROLD FORD JR: Joe's response is logical. I think that's a rational response.
BRZEZINSKI: It's fine. It's fine.
FORD JR: This father, he responded a certain way. But I think Mika’s point is right. Should the president have embraced this. I think that is the issue. And Chuck, I don't think anything is wrong with Joe raising this issue. You have every right to raise it.
BRZEZINSKI: I don’t have a problem with Chuck’s point of view.
TODD: I don’t disagree. I just think we got to -- look. I think a parent's reaction, none of us have been there. You know, I don't have a child that was missing for five years. So I can't -- we don't know how any of us would react in a situation like that. That was the point I'm making. I think we leave the parents out of this.
SCARBOROUGH: Chuck, that was my reaction when I first saw this story and I thought the kid was a deserter. I saw the father crying and that was my reaction. And I said I'm not going to judge this guy. I'm going to keep my mouth shut. The more I've read, the more disturbed I've been by the fact that this son wandered off in part probably because he didn't have parents saying, son, stay right there. You're under emotional duress. I understand. And by the way, we parents, listen. One of the smartest things Willie I can warn you, I can warn you as well Harold, Bill you already know that. Big children, big problems. Right? We've been there. As your kids get older, the problems get bigger. And sometimes you need a parent to be actually stronger and more forceful and say, son, stay right there. I'm coming. I'm taking care of it.