Mike Barnicle to Air Travelers: If You're Upset, Take the Bus

Columnist Mike Barnicle had some pointed words on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday for travelers exasperated with the new TSA airport scanning procedures: "Take the train or take the bus."

"Here's a tip for travelers this Thanksgiving," the "Morning Joe" regular remarked Tuesday. "If you're upset about this at airports, take the train or take the bus." He added later in the show "Hop in your car and drive to Detroit," as another alternative for air travel.

Barnicle, continuing his rant from Monday, lamented that Americans are so upset with the controversial security procedures when the U.S. is involved in two wars and real unemployment stands at 15 percent. "This again, if we ever needed it, is proof-positive that we live in a time where we have such a limited attention-span as a nation, it is sickening," he preached. "We're now more afraid at airports, apparently, of being felt-up rather than blown-up in the air."
 

Neither "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski nor former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham challenged Barnicle's points. Meacham referenced the feeling of national pride and identity in the months following September 11 and thought that there would have been no uproar over such scanning methods back then.

Shortly after September 11, when armed National Guard members were present in airports, Meacham remarked that "Everyone felt as though you were in something together. You were willing – you would have been felt-up, you would have done the feeling-up."

"If an airliner had blown up over Detroit on Christmas Day, this conversation would feel very different," Meacham argued.

Brzezinski channeled the sentiments of the two guests, downplaying the controversy of the TSA scannings. "It's kind of in line with some of the complaints about this administration from the get-go," she complained.  "What else are they supposed to do?"

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 23 at 6:03 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: USA Today reports that the companies that supply the nation's body-scanning machines have more than doubled their spending on lobbying in the last five years. See, I think this is actually the real story, as opposed to the pat-downs, if something may not be working the way it should have been.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: (After Pistole Video) (Grimaces) Does that help?

MIKE BARNICLE: You know, this again, if we ever needed it, is proof-positive that we live in a time where we have such a limited attention-span as a nation, it is sickening. We're now more afraid at airports, apparently, of being felt-up rather than blown-up in the air.

BRZEZINSKI: I don't disagree with that.

BARNICLE: Here's a tip for travelers this Thanksgiving. If you're upset about this at airports, take the train or take the bus.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, on the other hand, Willie –

BARNICLE: No. This is ridiculous.

(...)

JON MEACHAM: I just think there's this odd psychological factor, not only to what Barnicle's saying, but you know when you're traveling, you're sort of – like me, you're intrinsically harried. You know, just, it's hard, and you know, you've –

It's a pain in the neck.

MEACHAM: Children –

BRZEZINSKI: Trying to get somewhere.

MEACHAM: Trying to get somewhere in the lines, and  – and so your tolerance and your capacity to remember why we're doing it diminishes in direct proportion –

BRZEZINSKI: But you know what, it's kind of in line with some of the complaints about this administration from the get-go. Because I completely agree with you, the issue about being worried about being felt-up rather than blown up is a perfect point. I agree with you, what else are they supposed to do? But it seems like this came out of nowhere. There was no rollout, no explanation.

BARNICLE: That's true.

BRZEZINSKI: No communication with the public. I mean, you show up at the airport and people are groping you, it's a little unusual. If you think perhaps –

(Crosstalk)

MEACHAM: Just remember how you felt in October-November of 2001, when those – the National Guard guys, the military guys were there, were armed. They were in the airports. Everyone felt as though you were in something together. You were willing – you would have been felt-up, you would have done the feeling-up.

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

MEACHAM: And that sense has disappeared and dissipated. And the threat is still there.

(...)

MEACHAM: If an airliner had blown up over Detroit on Christmas Day, this conversation would feel very different.

BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. I completely agree with you.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: 64 percent support the use of full-body x-ray scanners, while 32 percent oppose it. Before we move on, I would just say that if the body scanners completely worked, that's probably the answer, but I'm not sure. I mean there are conflicts as to whether they actually make a difference.

BARNICLE: What do you suppose the question is that the 32 percent answered. How did they phrase the question. How could you be against this at an airport? Why would you be against a body scanner?

WILLIE GEIST: Invasion of privacy and radiation are the two things people point to.

BARNICLE: Then hop in your car and drive to Detroit.

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