Broadcast Networks Ignore Obama Describing Republican Consensus as 'Wacky Ideological Nonsense'

On the August 11 edition of Morning Joe, the MSNBC morning show aired a clip from Obama’s interview with Thomas Friedman that was transcribed in print in the August 9 edition of The New York Times. In the video, Friedman asked the president to comment on “the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans.” According to Obama, the Democratic “consensus” is “a pretty common sense mainstream consensus” while the Republican consensus is based in “wacky ideological nonsense.”

That’s a heck of a way to reach across the aisle and work for bipartisan agreement on the nation’s pressing issues. Of course, the president’s partisan rhetoric has not been picked up by the Big Three broadcast networks. For its part, MSNBC only devoted 2 minutes and 18 seconds to the clip, 38 seconds of which was just a tease before a commercial break. [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

The president also groused to Friedman that “ideological extremism and maximalist position is much more prominent in the Republican Party than the Democrats.” The Democrats, Obama insisted are “generally...  fact-based and reason-based.” Unlike Republicans, he explained “we're not denying science, we're not denying climate change. We're not pretending that somehow, you know, having a whole bunch of uninsured people is the American way. We're doing things that are pretty sensible.”

This is the very same president who blamed partisanship in Congress for his inability to lead the country. Yet the mainstream media have not felt obligated to report on his outrageous statement dismissing virtually half of the American electorate.

When Scarborough asked Friedman about Obama’s response, he replied that this was “the only real comment about domestic politics” the president made and that it “speaks for itself.”

The MSNBC host ended the segment by stating “You know, I'm hoping that he was just being partisan, but unfortunately I think he really believes that.”

Unfortunately, Joe, that’s probably what your average die-hard MSNBC audience member believes too.

See MSNBC transcript below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
August 10, 2014
6:39 a.m. Eastern
38 seconds


JOE SCARBOROUGH: Alright, coming up on Morning Joe, what does President Obama think is the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans?

PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Overall, if you look at the democratic consensus, it's a pretty common sense mainstream consensus. It's not a lot of wacky ideological nonsense and, by the way, generally is fact based on reason based.

SCARBOROUGH: That's the President of the United States? Oh, Lord! We are reasonable and rational and fact based. Them! you know it’s witchcraft. Holy cow. I can't wait to ask Tom Friedman. Thomas Friedman who is coming on to talk about that interview.

8:24 a.m. Eastern
1 minute and 39 seconds


OBAMA: And I have to say here, you know, I've been speaking in generalities and trying not to be too political. But that ideological extremism and maximalist position is much more prominent in the Republican party than the Democrats. Democrats have problems, but overall if you look at the Democrat consensus, it's a pretty common sense mainstream consensus. It's not a lot of wacky ideological nonsense. And by the way, it generally is fact based and reason based. We're not denying science, we're not denying climate change. We're not pretending that somehow, you know, having a whole bunch of uninsured people is the American way. We're doing things that are pretty sensible.

SCARBOROUGH: Let's bring Thomas Friedman back in from the New York Times. Thomas, a fascinating interview. That answer, I don't even know where to begin with that answer. I guess I have to ask you, as you were listening to that answer, is this a president gearing up for a very important midterm election in 2014 or did you sense that's the president we're going to have through the end of 2016?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: This interview, really, Joe to be honest, was almost entirely focused on foreign policy. That was the only real comment about domestic politics. So I think it speaks for itself as they say, I think. It's out of my lane, but I'll let you handle that lane.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, I'm hoping that he was just being partisan, but unfortunately I think he really believes that.

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