Time Columnist: New TSA Screenings a 'Minor Inconvenience'

Columnists Michael Crowley and Mike Barnicle seemed to agree on one thing on Monday's "Morning Joe"  – the new TSA airport screening methods are not that big of a deal, in the scheme of things.

Early on Monday's "Morning Joe," Crowley, Deputy Washington Bureau chief for Time magazine, expressed muted criticism of the American public's reaction to the new screenings. "I think that people are getting very upset about something that's not that big a deal," he said of the new procedures which feature the choice of undergoing either a  revealing body scan or a thorough pat-down.

"We talk about sacrifice in a time of war, it's not happening. There's this minor inconvenience that people are having to go through," the columnist continued.

Mark Halperin earlier flatly disagreed with Barnicle and Crowley. "It's not a minor inconvenience," he said of the new airport checks. "Wait 'till you've been subjected to it," he told Crowley. Barnicle said he had experienced the screening and admitted its controversy, but said it did not merit the backlash that has ensued.
 

"I understand the radiation thing in the machines, but what does it say about us as a culture that we get more bent out of shape about this issue then we do about massive unemployment?" he complained.  

Co-host Mika Brzezinski seemed to echo the sentiments of Crowley and Barnicle. Later in the show, the panel interviewed the head of the TSA, John Pistole. After Mark Halperin pressed him on how he felt personally after undergoing the controversial new procedure, Brzezinski spoke up in the Pistole's defense, "Seriously. What is [Pistole] supposed to do, given the fact that people are hiding bombs in their underwear and anywhere else?"

With that, the live interview continued. Mike Barnicle channeled his sentiments from earlier in the show in criticizing the American people for reviling the new screening methods while the country is engaged in wars and real unemployment stands at 15 percent.

"Mr. Pistole, let me ask you this. What do you think it says about us as a culture, as a nation, where we are all up in arms over the past week or so about getting frisked at airports, and potential radiation from these machines, much more so than we are about the fact that we are engaged in two wars in Afghanistan, and have a 10 ½ – 15 percent real – unemployment rate in this country?"

A transcript of the segments, which aired at 6:03 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. EDT, respectively, is as follows:

MICHAEL CROWLEY, Time magazine Deputy Washington Bureau chief: I don't know the solution either, but it does seem like, you know, this is a country where we have one war – a hot war raging, and winding down another war in Iraq. There are terrorists coming at us from all directions, and our day-to-day lives have largely been unaffected, I mean, you know, we talk about sacrifice in a time of war, it's not happening. There's this minor inconvenience that people are having to go through. It's not idea, we should fix it. But I just – I think that people are getting very upset about something that's not that big a deal. And the general context of what is happening with America –

MARK HALPERIN: Have you been subject – (Crosstalk)

CROWLEY: I haven't --

HALPERIN: You haven't. ...Wait 'till you've been subjected to it.

MIKE BARNICLE: I have.

HALPERIN: It's not a minor inconvenience.

BRZEZINSKI: Barnicle went in three times.

BARNICLE: I ha – yeah, I did. (...) I understand the radiation thing in the machines, but what does it say about us as a culture that we get more bent out of shape about this issue then we do about massive unemployment –

BRZEZINSKI: Thank you.

BARNICLE: About less than one percent of the people in this country fighting two wars for us – what does it say about us?!

(...)

HALPERIN: Sir, let me ask you two questions about both of the new parts of the two pieces of this. You say the machines are safe for use. Would you be willing to have to go through it four times a week?

TSA chief JOHN PISTOLE: Yes. I travel quite a bit. I go through a security screening every time. I have full confidence that they are safe and secure.

HALPERIN: Okay. And have you been subjected, either as a test or as you've traveled, to the full pat-down?

PISTOLE: Yes. I have.

HALPERIN: And how'd you feel about it?

PISTOLE: Well I felt like it was thorough. I felt it was doing exactly what it was designed to do, to try to detect somebody who was trying to kill hundreds of people on an airplane.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay. I mean, that's the – I mean look guys, or fight me on it – what is he supposed to do?

HALPERIN: Well –

BRZEZINSKI: Seriously. What is he supposed to do, given the fact that people are hiding bombs in their underwear and anywhere else?

BARNICLE: That's what I would like to ask him. Mr. Pistole, let me ask you this. What do you think it says about us as a culture, as a nation, where we are all up in arms over the past week or so about getting frisked at airports, and potential radiation from these machines much more so than we are about the fact that we are engaged in two wars in Afghanistan, and have a 10 ½ – 15 percent real – unemployment rate in this country. What does that say about us?

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: TSA Administrator John Pistole, thanks very much. You're in a tough spot, and we appreciate it. We appreciate your coming on the show this morning.

 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014