Hypocritical MSNBC Slams 'Crazy' Conservatives

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough chided the "crazy" rhetoric of Republican presidential candidates Tuesday, as he called them out by name and affirmed "crazy never wins." This aired on the same network that employs Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz.

Scarborough insisted that "crazy never wins, one of the reasons we're seeing Rick Perry collapse, the same reason we're seeing Bachmann collapse, the same reason why Newt never took off, the same reason Sarah Palin never took off."

Regular Morning Joe guest John Heilemann made a similar statement about "crazy" being harmful to the credibility of mainstream media outlets, and the Daily Beast/Newsweek's Tina Brown hypocritically affirmed that "that's reassuring to know."

Newsweek's recent cover story on Michelle Bachmann, portraying her as "The Queen of Rage" with an unflattering picture of the candidate, made quite a stir on the internet and raised questions about the credibility of Tina Brown's publication. But the panel simply focused on "crazy" talk from Fox News and conservatives, not from liberals and MSNBC hosts like Thomas Roberts, or perhaps Al Sharpton or Ed Schultz.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 27 at 7:03 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[7:03]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Ailes is admitting he took the Republican Party –

TINA BROWN: Too far.

SCARBOROUGH: – too far over the cliff, and he's trying to pull it back now.

BROWN: Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that he really is admitting is that Glenn Beck – it was over-the-top. And also, I think that when the Gabby Giffords shooting happened, I think that was really a kind of come-to-Jesus moment for a lot of people. And I think Ailes, who's a shrewd, shrewd businessguy really thought his network could become toxic at a certain point if he wasn't going to just tack and pull back. So very carefully he's been pulling it back, and if you notice all below O'Reilly's talking points recently, when he's being interviewed – he gave an interview to Peter Boyer the week before – it's all about staying on message as being we're not going to be as extreme as the Glenn Beck tack went. So he has pulled it back. And he is amazingly deft the way he can just adjust all the time to the times and still keep ahead like that.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The Gabby Giffords shooting really was, do you think, a touchstone for the change in the conversation?

(Crosstalk)

BROWN: I see that whole moment became very much a kind of self-evaluation moment, and also the stuff that Glenn Beck was saying when he was calling – you know, he was making comments that seemed racist, and so on. I mean, these are the things – racist, and so on – I mean, these were the things that I think could be very harmful to a network.

BRZEZINSKI: It's amazing (Unintelligible)

HEILMANN: Could I – I'll just venture a controversial opinion.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes.

HEILEMANN: Which is that there is no place in American – the American mainstream media and politics where crazy and hateful are good for your brand.

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

HEILEMANN: In the long run.

(Crosstalk)

BROWN: And that's reassuring to know.

SCARBOROUGH: In the long run, you know I've actually –

HEILEMANN: You could drive ratings in the short term on crazy and hateful, but in the long run it's bad for business. It's bad for business.

SCARBOROUGH: It doesn't pay off, and if you look, it wasn't just at Fox, it was at other networks. You look, and at other publications, where after the Gabby Giffords shooting a lot of people were called to the front office and said guess what, we're in a new era now. Tone it down. Dial it back. And again, I find it so fascinating again that this Gabe Sherman article, which Fox pushed back at really hard, it's proven to be exactly right.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: To your point Heilemann that crazy doesn't sell, check out Joe's Politico piece this week, because crazy also doesn't win, ultimately.

SCARBOROUGH: And by the way, that was my – that's my argument in Politico today is that crazy never wins, one of the reasons we're seeing Rick Perry collapse, the same reason we're seeing Bachmann collapse, the same reason why Newt never took off, the same reason Sarah Palin never took off, is – and I talk about my dad again, who by the way in the primaries voted for Nixon in '60, Goldwater in '64, Nixon – I mean every time, Dole – crazy never wins.

BROWN: But crazy makes great television.

SCARBOROUGH: It makes great television, but –

BROWN: That – that's the issue, that in a sense we're all – there's a conspiracy to kind of make it seem for a while as if crazy will win.

SCARBOROUGH: Exactly.

BROWN: But it won't.

(...)

MARK HALPERIN: If Fox moved from being right to center-right, they could be more powerful than they are now, which is pretty darn powerful. And I think Roger Ailes understands the problem for the Republican Party is parallel to the problem for Fox, which is you need to get back a little bit to the center to try to expand your reach.

BROWN: He is doing that, you know, as you see with Chris Wallace I think is doing great, great stuff in the debates. He is –

SCARBOROUGH: The reality is, though, for Fox News, for Rush Limbaugh, for Sean Hannity, for a lot of the conservative talkers – and we're talking about right versus center-right – they live in a perpetual state where it is primary season in the Republican Party 1994. I mean, that's why – that's why – that's why they can influence primaries, as far as in congressional races, but they're never going to have the huge influence, like you said, until you move center-right, on actually who wins the Republican nomination, because nobody over there supported John McCain in 2008, and nobody over there is supporting Mitt Romney in '12. And yet, that's what's going to happen because again, they live in a world where it's constantly a GOP primary in a conservative year, and that's not just the reality.

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