Rich: Co-Panelists 'Pushed' O'Donnell Into Anti-Mormon Rant

The devil made Larry do it.

Don't blame Lawrence O'Donnell for his ugly anti-Mormon rant. It was really the fault of O'Donnell's fellow panelists. That's Frank Rich's take on the unseemly episode on the McLaughlin Group a couple Fridays ago.In his NY Times column of today, Rich claims that O'Donnell was:

pushed over the edge by his peers’ polite chatter about Mitt Romney’s sermon on “Faith in America.” [Emphasis added.]

Questions:

  • How does Frank Rich know this?
  • What's his evidence that O'Donnell didn't act with malice aforethought?
  • Why does the Times columnist believe that a few polite words about the speech by Pat Buchanan and Eleanor Clift were enough to send poor Larry off the deep end?
  • Would Rich be so quick to excuse Pat Buchanan if he went similarly off on, oh I don't know -- Islam?

Rich later reveals his profound misunderstanding -- or cynicism -- about religion in general and Mormonism in particular. He writes [emphasis added]:

Mr. O’Donnell then raised the rude question that almost no one in Washington asks aloud: Why didn’t Mr. Romney publicly renounce his church’s discriminatory practices before they were revoked? As the scion of one of America’s most prominent Mormon families, he might have made a difference.

Rich doesn't explain just how he thinks Romney might have made that difference. But consider that according to the LDS church, the policy was changed in accordance with a revelation received by the religion's leader directly from God. If Frank thinks Mitt is truly that influential, then surely he should be supporting him for president!

Note: O'Donnell just can't help himself. On the one hand, he's written a [l-o-n-n-n-g] column at HuffPo clarifying his comments about Romney and the LDS, claiming "religious affiliation is not a good reason to vote for or against a candidate for president." But he then proceeds to twice refer to Mormonism as "crazy" and to rehash all his objections to the religion.

Perhaps O'Donnell should issue his personal list of crazy and non-crazy religions. Don't expect him to be entirely candid, though. Larry has admitted that he's afraid to criticize Islam.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.