Joe Scarborough Attempts to Backpedal on Anti-Israel Remarks

In response to the media backlash following Joe Scarborough’s harsh remarks about Israel on yesterday’s Morning Joe broadcast, the former Republican congressman spent almost four minutes of air-time on the August 1 edition insulting “the usual suspects” that lacked “the intellectual capacity to actually grasp” his earlier “statement.” He stated that he would use “simple talk that simple minded people can understand” to refine his stance.

For Scarborough, “simple talk” meant backing away from many of the statements he made yesterday. As my NewsBusters colleague Connor Williams noted, on the July 31 edition of the MSNBC morning show, after speaking with MSNBC’s notoriously biased journalist Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza, Scarborough went on a rant, blasting the “asinine” and “indiscriminate” attacks by Israel on Palestinian civilians. In contrast, today he asserted that “America must stand with Israel” as “they are America’s strongest ally in the region.”

You may recall that Scarborough previously described Hamas as a “power hungry corrupt people that despise Israel” rather than a “radical Islamist group,” but today he affirmed that “they are a terrorist organization, who started this confrontation by launching thousands of missile attacks on the people of Israel.” While “Israelis uses their missiles to protect people” the MSNBC host conceded, “Hamas use their people to protect missiles.”

Moving away from blaming Israel for running an “asinine” campaign, the former Florida congressman tried to twist his earlier statements to show more support for Israel, claiming that he was merely commenting that the “images of children being pulled out of the rubble of bombed out schools” only makes support for “Hamas stronger and threatens Israel's long-term security.”

Scarborough remained defiant throughout the “clarification,” punctuating his rhetoric by sarcastically asking, “are you still with me?” According to him, “blindly supporting Israel and Israeli politicians when their actions may actually be strengthen their enemies and our enemies like Hamas is no way to show your support, and no way to show your friendship.”

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
August 1, 2014
7:02 a.m. Eastern
3 minutes and 57 seconds


MIKA BRZEZINKSI: Of course, we were talking about this yesterday and comments you made on the show yesterday blasted over the internet in lots of different ways.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, and on talk radio and other places on TV where people like to keep it as simple as possible. What is the quote?

JON MEACHAM: Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

SCARBOROUGH:  Okay, thank you. That is why we bring Pulitzer prize winners on. So as Jon Meacham said, I think he made this up and why he got the Pulitzer. Since a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds adored by little politicians and partisan barkers in the public square, I didn't expect the usual suspects to have the intellectual capacity to actually grasp the statement that didn’t neatly line up with their political punch list for the do's and don't's of mindless political posturing. So let me start with simple talk that simple minded people can understand. America must stand with Israel. They are America’s strongest ally in the region. Hamas, they are a terrorist organization, who started this confrontation by launching thousands of missile attacks on the people of Israel. Are you still with me? Israeli uses their missiles to protect people and Hamas use their people to protect missiles. U.N. condemnations don't matter much, since the U.N. has long been a hot bed of anti-Israeli sentiment. What matters most now is Israeli neighbors in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Jordan support the Jewish state over the Islamic terror outfit. Turkey and Qatar, of course, have chosen to be backers of Hamas, but they are practically alone in the region. It’s also true that the United States has less leverage to move both sides to a peaceful solution because of Israeli long time distrust of President Obama, and lining up with Turkey and Qatar in peace talks doesn't help bridge that divide. But, in international diplomacy as in domestic political life, we have got to follow the wisdom of William F. Buckley. And you take the world as you find it and not how you wish it to be. And the reality on the ground in Gaza is clear to all. The prolonged killing of children and women in Palestinian territories will only serve to weaken Israeli and serve to strengthen Hamas. And tragically this comes at a time when Hamas leadership was on the run. They were hated at home. They were isolated abroad. And then this began. Yes, they fired missiles into Israel. Why? Because they were on the verge of political destruction in Gaza. But now, every day that goes by with images of children being pulled out of the rubble of bombed out schools, bombed out hospitals, and bombed out marketplaces, is a day that only makes Hamas stronger and threatens Israel's long-term security. That's bad for Israel. That's bad for America. And that is bad for Middle East peace. And think about this. While you're going down your punch list of what you think people on the extremes will like. Blindly supporting Israel and Israeli politicians when their actions may actually be strengthen their enemies and our enemies like Hamas is no way to show your support, and no way to show your friendship.

BRZEZINKSI: That would make your point clear.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, I think it's simple enough but, Gene, let's talk quickly about how Hamas, this is a great tragedy after the humanitarian crisis, Hamas, I saw some polls that said over 80 percent of people in Gaza hated Hamas, wanted them out. They were forced to strike a deal with the Palestinian authority. Egypt is against them. Saudi Arabia is against them. U.A.E. is against them. You go down the list. Jordan is against them. They were isolated. This is only serving to prop them back up and it's the last thing in the long run that Israel needs.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.