Democrat Rep. Grayson's Campaign Ad So Bad, Even Contessa Brewer Finds Fault With It

MSNBC daytime anchor Contessa Brewer has recently drawn much attention for her shameless bias towards gay-rights activists, especially since she anchors an MSNBC news hour and not a talk show. But today, interviewing ultra-liberal Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Brewer actually grilled him for his shamelessly-edited ad attacking his Republican opponent Daniel Webster.

Grayson, a freshman Democrat, has made a name for himself in the past year for his outlandish soundbites and theatrics on Capitol Hill. His latest venture into psycho talk is an attack ad accusing Webster of degrading women, calling him the "Taliban."

"So Congressman, your opponent is a fellow American, a longtime public servant of the people of Florida, and you called him the 'Taliban'," Brewer began. "How do you defend that?"

Brewer also asked Grayson to explain his editing of Webster's reference to Scripture. The commercial showed Webster quoting the Bible, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands." However, the ad conveniently left out what Webster said before the quote, distorting the whole context of the remark.

"I have verses for my wife," Webster told his audience. "Don't pick the ones that say 'She should submit to me.' That's in the Bible, but pick the ones that you're supposed to do. So instead, that you'd love your wife even as Christ loved the Church, He gave Himself for it. As opposed to 'Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands.'

Grayson was unremorseful for anything he had said, instead trying to turn the interview into an occasion to rehash his leftist talking points about Webster being anti-woman. "We didn't twist his words," Grayson explained. "But what's not out of context by any stretch of the imagination... is the fact that he has a terrible record on women's rights."

Brewer then argued that Grayson should stick to arguing about specific issue disagreements and avoid calling his opponent the "Taliban" and editing his speeches. At that point, Grayson then accused Brewer of avoiding the real topics and focusing on his smears of his opponent, to which Brewer reminded Grayson that he had endorsed his own attack ad, and concluded the contentious interview.

A full transcript of the interview, which aired on September 28 at 12:33 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
CONTESSA BREWER: Welcome back to MSNBC on this Tuesday. I'm Contessa Brewer. Democrats are pushing to get women to show up at the ballot box in November, because without their support, the party in power may lose their majority. And no one is pushing harder than congressman Alan Grayson, running for re-election in Florida.

(Video Clip)

VOICE: Religious fanatics try to take away our freedom, in Afghanistan, in Iran, and right here in Central Florida.

DANIEL WEBSTER: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.

VOICE: Daniel Webster wants to impose his radical fundamentalism on us. (...) The Taliban Dan Webster – hands off our bodies and our laws.

(End Video Clip)

BREWER: That latest campaign attack ad getting a lot of attention, and here's Congressman Grayson now, good to see you today.

Rep. ALAN GRAYSON, (D): Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

CONTESSA BREWER: So Congressman, your opponent is a fellow American, a longtime public servant of the people of Florida, and you called him the "Taliban." How do you defend that?

GRAYSON: Well, the Taliban try to impose their bizarre religious views on the rest of us, and so does my opponent and the group that he belongs to, the Institute for Basic Life Principles. Among other things, the Institute for Basic Life Principles doesn't want women to work outside the home. Where would that leave you?

BREWER: Well, you know, here's what's interesting. The Taliban is so far beyond wanting their women to work outside the home. I mean, there are acid attacks on young girls, and there are killings and murders based on what happens with women there. And your opponent has never been accused of that.

Politifact for the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald have actually fact-checked your ad. Their research reveals the full context of what Dan Webster was saying. He was talking to fathers at this conference that you just mentioned, the Institute – let me play the full part, the full context for what he was talking about when he was saying "You submit to me."

(Video Clip)

WEBSTER: I have verses for my wife. Don't pick the ones that say she should submit to me. That's in the Bible, but pick the ones that you're supposed to do. So instead, that you'd love your wife even as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, as opposed to wives submit yourselves to your own husbands.

(End Video Clip)

BREWER: He's basically encouraging, Congressman, men to focus on Bible verses other than "Submit to me." Your ad was rated false on Politifact. Why not just use his stand on women's issues? Why twist his words?

GRAYSON: We're doing that. We're doing that, and we didn't twist his words. And by the way, it's a 15 minute speech, and he released only four minutes of it. But we could argue endlessly about whether it's in context, out of context, whatever. He's a 28-year career politician, and when a career politician is tagged with his own words, which we quoted in the ad, of course he's going to respond "It's out of context." But what's not out of context by any stretch of the imagination – let me finish – what's not out of context by any stretch of the imagination is the fact that he has a terrible record on women's rights. He introduced a bill to eliminate divorce for battered women. He introduced another bill in which only the women who cheat on their husbands cannot get alimony, but husbands who cheat on their wives could. He introduced another bill to eliminate health care for battered women on the basis that battery is a preexisting condition. He actually voted on that.

BREWER: Why not just use –

GRAYSON: Now you tell me what really matters.

BREWER: So if that's what really matters – if those stands on those issues are what could motivate women to turn out to the polls, then why take a speech where he was saying – again, this is his word – "I have verses for my wife. Don't pick the ones that say, um, 'She should submit to me'." Your people cut that, "submit to me," "submit to me," and they put that in. That's not what he was saying. His stand on the issues should stand alone, shouldn't it?

GRAYSON: Contessa, look at what you just did. When you ran the ad, you only ran the parts that you wanted to talk about. You didn't run the parts that I just discussed. You're doing it. We want to discuss women's issues, and you're preventing that from happening.

BREWER: No. No, I'm not, actually I've given you to join me, and I want to talk about women's issues, and I think that women are interested in candidates' stands on abortion, and on health care, and on family issues, and on equal pay for equal work. I think women want to know those issues. And I think that if your opponent has an appalling stand on those issues, that absolutely you should point it out. My question is, why would you take a piece of sound and make it seem like he's saying something that, in that moment, he wasn't saying. As I said, the non-partisan Politifact organization says this ad was false.

And here's his wife, Sandi Webster, who responded: "Alan Grayson's latest attack on my husband was shameful. Mr. Grayson seems to have a problem telling the truth, and no problem misleading the public. Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I've ever known. Mr. Grayson should be ashamed of his nasty smears against my husband."

Given Dan Webster's stand on women's issues, are you afraid that this negative attack ad could backfire against you?

GRAYSON: Contessa, I invited you just now to go into what the issues were, and you completely avoided them. Instead, you gave time to my opponent's wife to express her indignation without addressing g those issues. Dan Webster was on TV the day before he ran this ad, and he was asked point-blank, "What would you do if a women is raped? Would you require her to have the child?" As his legislation requires – he introduced legislation to require raped women – raped women – to bear the child. And he refused to answer the reporter's question. I think we should talk about these issues, and I don't think that you should get us off-track, or anybody else, including Dan Webster and his wife.

BREWER: Congressman, your ad begins with you approve that message. That's your message.

GRAYSON: Yes, and if you'd run the whole thing, people would have seen what I did approve.

BREWER: Congressman Alan Grayson, I appreciate your time today. Thank you.
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014