MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts Calls Out Barney Frank for Politicizing Boston Marathon Bombing


Former congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) went on MSNBC this morning to react to yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. In a shameless moment of advocacy, Frank used the tragedy to make a political statement about revenue and the size of government. Considering that this happened on MSNBC, you might expect the host to condone the congressman’s liberal activism, but anchor Thomas Roberts actually called Frank out for his despicable attempt to politicize this tragedy.

Early in the interview, Frank stressed that none of us know much about who and what were behind this event as of yet. So the former congressman turned to what he does know how to do – attacking his ideological opponents:

 

"You know, it's very fashionable these days for people in my former line of work to brag about how they cut government, reduce government. Well, I'm glad that they weren't as successful as they wanted to be. This is an enormously expensive undertaking."

Roberts tried to steer Frank out of these waters by asking him about a quote from a Boston Globe columnist. However, the congressman soon returned to his push for more government spending:



"[B]y the way, the practical matter – this is very expensive for the city of Boston. Overtime. A whole range of people mobilized. I hope then that we will be able to find some revenue, I hope from the federal government so that Boston doesn't have to pay for this absolutely necessary expenditure by cutting back on other important services down the line."


At this point Roberts, who has not exactly been a model of journalistic excellence in the past, took Frank to task for his statements: “Sir, you keep talking about revenue and infrastructure and the fact that we have the capabilities necessary to respond to something as atrocious as this. Do you feel like you're capitalizing and making political hay of this event that happened?

But Frank apparently felt no shame. Defiant as ever, he only repeated his argument:
 

"I'm saying that if the sequester had gone through, and we had not had enough money, we couldn't be able to do this. Yeah, I'm making an argument about reality. And I think that's the only sensible response...And yes, I do want maybe for this to have some people be a little less enthusiastic about reducing the ability to respond to a crisis like this."


If you are so obstinately liberal that even an MSNBC host calls you out for politicizing a tragedy, you know you’ve gone too far. Kudos to Thomas Roberts for playing the role of a responsible journalist today and holding Congressman Frank accountable for his comments.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

MSNBC Live
04/16/13
11:07

THOMAS ROBERTS: The fact that we're coming up on a 24-hour period where we don't have more definitive answers about where the investigation is leading, when you hear about some of the details that have been reported and with your background information of working in D.C. for so long, how affirmed are you that the Homeland Security Department, and through their years of expertise in dealing with scenes like this, will be able to track down the proper leads, to get to the answers?

BARNEY FRANK: The answer is nobody knows. Look. I have to tell you, there's a terrible temptation. This is an awful event. And people are trying very hard but there's a temptation for all of us to tell people more than we know. I don't know. I'm very hopeful. I will say this and I hope -- look. The time has come to talk about what we do know. Let's be thankful that we have spent our tax money to build up the capacity to do this, let’s be thankful we have a police department, a fire department and public health people. You know, it's very fashionable these days for people in my former line of work to brag about how they cut government, reduce government. Well, I'm glad that they weren't as successful as they wanted to be. This is an enormously expensive undertaking. Large numbers of people and people complaining, oh, they're being paid too much. Well, I hope we have the best possible people. I hope we have people who are the investigators, the scientific investigators, the personality people who can do this. And I hope they're going to be able to get answers but I don't see how anybody can know right now.

ROBERTS: Sir, one thing that was written this morning by Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen about how the city has been affected, and I think you can speak to this. He wrote saying that we are left with this unnerving proposition. If it was homegrown, if it was probably an aberration, the work of a lunatic, if it was foreign-inspired or sponsored, we'll never feel safe in our own town. I know you said you want to feel optimistic. So what is your message to the people of Boston, the people of Massachusetts right now?




FRANK: That's greatly hyperbolic. We had a terrible attack. Millions of people – hundreds of people – thousands of people killed, many more, on 9/11. I'm sitting here in the New Haven train station now, about to take a train to Manhattan, and I feel safe. Again, this is awful. People died and they deserve their families great sympathy. People are injured. They deserve the best we can give them. But this isn't the end of the world. We're not Afghanistan, we’re not Iraq. And no, I think -- I'll make this prediction. People will feel safe in Boston fairly soon. Part of the answer, though, is, look, but I have to repeat this. Maybe we’ll resist this so much that-- less government, let's reduce the resources. No, let's continue to build up security and then by the way the practical matter – this is very expensive for the city of Boston. Overtime. A whole range of people mobilized. I hope then that we will be able to find some revenue, I hope from the federal government so that Boston doesn't have to pay for this absolutely necessary expenditure by cutting back on other important services down the line.

ROBERTS: Sir, you keep talking about revenue and infrastructure and the fact that we have the capabilities necessary to respond to something as atrocious as this. Do you feel like you're capitalizing and making political hay of this event that happened?

FRANK: Do I feel what? That I'm capitalizing?

ROBERTS: Well, that you're making a political argument about revenue right now.

FRANK: Yes, exactly. I'm talking common sense. I'm saying that if the sequester had gone through, and we had not had enough money, we couldn't be able to do this. Yeah, I'm making an argument about reality. And I think that's the only sensible response. We are spending a great deal of public money here. I am glad that we are. And yes, I do want maybe for this to have some people be a little less enthusiastic about reducing the ability to respond to a crisis like this. You're asking me am I trying to make an argument that I hope will affect how people make decisions about public policy? Absolutely. I think this is an important teaching moment about what we need if we're going to live the way we want to live.
 

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.