MSNBC’s Witt Distorts Huckabee’s Comments, Then Essentially Blames the Victim

In a weird way, you have to love the blatant, in-your-face disingenuousness of MSNBC. On Saturday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, the program's host trotted out the newest liberal rallying cry – former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s (R) recent comments about the Democratic Party and women. As was the case on some other MSNBC programs last week, the network edited out all context from the former governor’s remarks, showing only the most embarrassing part.  

After playing that edited, context-free clip of Huckabee, Witt remarked to Politico’s Juana Summers, “So Juana, Mike Huckabee has since said that the media distorted his comments. But why even open the door to that possibility?”


Notice that Witt didn’t refute the notion that the media have distorted Huckabee’s comments. She also didn’t mention, of course, that she herself had just distorted the comments by playing a truncated clip of the governor which gave viewers -- particularly those completely unaware of the context -- a rather distorted view. If Witt can tacitly acknowledge the media’s tendency to distort those comments, shouldn’t she be able to avoid distorting them herself? Instead of doing the responsible thing and playing the comments' full context, she blamed the former Republican presidential candidate for opening the door to the possibility that media members like her might distort his comments.  

What’s more, Witt failed to admit that her own network is front and center in distorting conservative comments in order to make right-wingers look bad. It’s part of MSNBC’s eternal war on the GOP. As NewsBusters has already reported, Alex Wagner played a similarly context-free clip of Huckabee on her Thursday program.

Here are Huckabee’s remarks, with the portion that Witt played in bold:
 

Women I know are outraged that the Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything that anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That's not a war on them, it's a war for them.
        
And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be, and women across America need to stand up and say, enough of that nonsense. And I think it's time we lead that discussion.
 

And here is a transcript of the Saturday Weekends with Alex Witt segment:

 

ALEX WITT: Juana, I’m gonna begin with you who I want to first refresh everyone's memories to exactly what Mike Huckabee said. Let's play that.

MIKE HUCKABEE: If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.

WITT: So Juana, Mike Huckabee has since said that the media distorted his comments. But why even open the door to that possibility? I mean, how do you explain the GOP constantly making comments with respect to women?



JUANA SUMMERS: Alex, you’re exactly right. This is a really sticky situation. Mike Huckabee has said the media is focused on what he said – a point of view that he's attributing to Democrats. That said, for a party that has been pillaried constantly in the media for having a so-called ‘war on women,’ for having this really bad narrative around social issues, for not being able to broaden the tent, this is exactly what not to do from the point of a political analyst. And I think that you heard that from Sean Spicer, you heard that from the RNC chairman, not speaking directly about these remarks, but saying you’ve got to be careful how you word these things, you have to think about what you’re saying and what your messaging is on these types of social issues, which are incredibly important in politics right now.

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