MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Continues Defense of Obama; Comparisons to Katrina 'Obscene'

Joe Scarborough continued his open defense of the Obama administration’s response to the BP oil spill, on Wednesday’s “Morning Joe.” Facing off against Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Scarborough called comparisons of the president’s handling of the current crisis with Bush’s handling of Katrina “obscene.”

“Behind the scenes, President Obama from day one was actually very engaged,” Scarborough argued. “[Obama] told his White House staff ‘This is job one,’ ordered all of the agencies to throw the full force of the federal government behind this. I mean...we’ve got the minutes of the meeting from April 22 where he said that.”

Rep. King countered that the administration lacked style in its handling of the crisis, and took eight days to declare it a “matter of national significance.”

Though Scarborough said that President Obama has done everything of “substance” to respond to the spill, King also asked Scarborough what more President Bush could have done to handle the Katrina crisis.

“What could George Bush have done?” Scarborough asked. “A hell of a lot.”

“This is one of the most obscene comparisons, between Katrina and BP,” Scarborough spat out. “I was on the ground from day one. I can tell you the federal government was not there. The state government was not there. The local government was not there.”

“No, you’re wrong, You’re wrong. That is not FEMA’s job,” Rep. King shot back. “That is the job of the mayor and the governor for the first two or three days.”

A transcript of the show’s segment is as follows:

MORNING JOE
June 9, 2010
8:06a.m.–8:09a.m.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: But–but–but Peter, you do understand–you do though understand, Peter, that behind the scenes President Obama from day one was actually very engaged, told his White House staff ‘this is job one,’ and ordered all of the agencies to throw the full force of the federal government behind this. I mean we’ve got that actual–we’ve got the minutes of the meeting from April 22 where he said that.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: It’s actually also in a press release released to the media.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right. So is this about substance, or is this about style?

REP. PETER KING (R-N.Y.): It’s both. It’s about leadership. And the fact is, it did take them–what–eight days to even declare this a matter of national significance. You know, leadership and style–Ronald Reagan had it, Franklin Roosevelt had it, John Kennedy had it, Bill Clinton had it in Oklahoma City. And you have to show–you have to connect with the American people. If you lose the American people on an issue like this, you’re going to hurt your administration, you know, for the next two years.

SCARBOROUGH: So Peter, let me ask you, technically, can you name one thing that you would have done if you were running the White House operation technically, that Barack Obama did not do?

REP. KING: I would have paid more attention to Gov. Jindal. I think Gov. Jindal is showing leadership, in fact, he wanted those berms off the coast. I think that is something that should have been done, that should have made more attention to him–

SCARBOROUGH: But–but–but–but if you put the berms off the coast, that pushes the oil over to Mississippi. That may be great for Louisiana. I don’t think Haley would have liked that a whole hell of a lot.

REP. KING: Well...the President should have engaged with Gov. Jindal. He didn’t engage with the Louisiana delegation, didn’t engage with Gov. Jindal, and he stayed away. And again, what more could President Bush have done with Katrina? The fact is, people like you are very critical of him.

(Crosstalk)

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let me tell you–I’ll gladly tell you. I went down to Katrina the day after, and I can tell you unlike Florida, the year before, where we had four hurricanes, FEMA wasn’t there on the ground. The National Guard wasn’t there on the ground.

(Crosstalk)

SCARBOROUGH: This is one of the most obscene comparisons between Katrina and BP. I was on the ground from day one. I can tell you the federal government was not there. The state government was not there. The local government was not there. I saw children walking around in dirty diapers that they had been wearing for three days, four days. I saw kids wandering the streets of Biloxi and across Louisiana without any water, three days into it. What could George Bush have done? A hell of a lot.

REP. KING: No, you’re wrong, you’re wrong. That is not FEMA’s job. That is the job of the mayor and the governor for the first two or three days.

(Crosstalk)

REP. KING: And you’re wrong, you’re wrong.

SCARBOROUGH: No I’m not wrong! Peter! I’m in Pensacola, Florida. We have Ivan the year before and they’re flying supply planes in from Washington, D.C. the next day. Come on, Peter. I don’t tell you what’s happening in Long Island Sound. Don’t tell me what’s happening on the Gulf Coast.

REP. KING: Joe, I’m telling you that everything that was done could have been done, until– the federal government does not come in until the third or fourth day. There was a failure of leadership by Mayor Nagin, by Governor Blanco, and Haley Barbour did a great job in Mississippi, Bob Riley did a great job in Alabama.     
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014