MSNBC’s Alter Endorses Obama Team's Slam of Boehner: He ‘Can’t Even Deliver a Pizza’

MSNBC contributor Jonathan Alter on Saturday continued the liberal media pattern of siding with the Obama administration on the current government shutdown. Appearing on Weekends with Alex Witt, Alter claimed that House Speaker John Boehner is not acting in a “patriotic fashion” and “can’t even deliver a pizza,” as Team Obama says.

Fill-in host Mara Schiavocampo had asked Alter about the unidentified Obama official who told The Wall Street Journal that the White House was “winning” the shutdown, but Alter got off track and started ripping into Speaker Boehner. He huffed, “[E]verything he's doing is to protect his own skin. I wish I could say that he was acting in a patriotic fashion, but he's just not.” [See video below.]


Alter then directly sided with the Obama administration’s characterization of Boehner: “The White House likes to say John Boehner can't even deliver a pizza, and there is some truth to that, that he just cannot deliver those Republican votes because he has these radicals in his party.”

It gets tiresome to hear media members slam proponents of small government as “radical” over and over while never using that word to describe Democrats or liberals. The mainstream media don’t seem to find it “radical” to require every American to purchase one particular product under penalty of law. Instead, they only see opponents of such a move as radical or unpatriotic.

As for the unnamed White House official’s comment, Alter naturally downplayed it, calling it “a very small bump in the road.”  He also took another shot at Boehner: “It let John Boehner cry some crocodile tears where he said, ‘this is not a game.’” 

Below is a transcript of the discussion:

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO: Jonathan, I want to read you what an unidentified official in the Obama administration said to the Wall Street Journal. Here’s the quote: "We are winning. It doesn't really matter to us how long the shutdown lasts because what matters is the end result.” The president then tried to walk that back yesterday. Let’s listen to what he said.

BARACK OBAMA: There's no winning when families don't have certainty about whether they're going to get paid or not. As long as they’re off the job, nobody's winning. And that's the point.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Jonathan, what are you hearing from the White House about this quote and this source?

JONATHAN ALTER: Well, it complicates things a little bit, but it's just a very small bump in the road. It let John Boehner cry some crocodile tears where he said, “this is not a game.” They have to say this. Kind of a kabuki dance in Washington where somebody makes a “gaffe,” which is saying the truth, which is it is a game. They are playing a very deadly game of poker. And then everybody on both sides has to claim no, it's not really a game. The bottom line here is that John Boehner got more than he bargained for. He's in a very tough position because if he doesn't figure out a way out of this, he could lose his speakership. And this is the most important thing to him. Mara, this is what a lot of people I think haven't fully understood. Politics is personal. John Boehner was booted out of the Republican leadership in 1998 . It was very humiliating for him. His worst nightmare is that he can't hold this caucus together and that after the dust settles, they throw him out of the speakership and humiliate him once more. So everything he's doing is to protect his own skin. I wish I could say that he was acting in a patriotic fashion, but he's just not. And it's clear that he went back on a couple of deals that he made in September that would have prevented this. He went back on them because he couldn't hold his caucus. The White House likes to say John Boehner can't even deliver a pizza, and there is some truth to that, that he just cannot deliver those Republican votes because he has these radicals in his party. So we'll see whether he can finesse all of this. I don't envy him but I also don't think he's showing real strength and character at this moment.
 

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