Sounding Too Much Like Michael Moore, Chuck Todd Cites NewsBusters

On Thursday's "Morning Joe," after being told that a critique of his on the auto industry bailout sounded very similar to one made by liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, MSNBC political director Chuck Todd told co-host Willie Geist that he dreaded what the people at NewsBusters would say: "By the way, I can't wait 'til our friends at NewsBusters, you know, compare, compare me to Michael Moore. I appreciate that. I appreciate that, Willie."

The exchange occurred after Todd argued that there was a class warfare reason behind the fact that the October financial bailout seemed to have less resistance than the auto industry rescue plan now being considered. He argued, "We are holding the automakers and the UAW to a tougher standard than, it seems to me, that we held the Citibank guys and, it seems to me, that we held everything that's going on with the white collar bailout on Wall Street." [Audio available here]

He later added, "...And maybe it's because we also don't know anybody that works at GM...We don't know those families. But, we do know somebody at JPMorgan Chase." Geist then played a clip of Moore "making almost the same point you're making right now."

After featuring a snippet of Moore ranting about the Wall Street "thieves" and how much nicer those executives were treated, Todd responded with his quip about NewsBusters. Of course, one difference that both Moore and Todd ignored: The October bailout was followed by a seemingly endless call for more bailouts and also that it was a few weeks before a presidential election. Those facts could certainly be an alternative theory to the class warfare argument. And it must be said, Todd was making almost exactly the same point Moore made.

A pervious example of Chuck Todd's interaction with NewsBusters occurred in August when he talked about (then) presidential candidate Barack Obama's appearance with Rick Warren and attempts to forestall "personal hatred" against the Democrat from evangelical Christians. He later contacted NewsBusters to express regret for the comment.

A transcript of the December 4, 2008 segment, which occurred at 8:10am, follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Chuck, are they going to get a lifeline?

CHUCK TODD: I do want to get at this issue- No, I want to get at this issue that Barnicle just brought up which is the blue-collar bailout versus the white-collar bailout. We are- It does seem "we" and the collective "we" here is the Washington intelligentsia, Amtrak intelligentsia. So, it's Congress. It's political community. It's the media. We are holding the automakers and the UAW to a tougher standard than, it seems to me, that we held the Citibank guys and, it seems to me, that we held everything that's going on with the white collar bailout on Wall Street. And it does- this is how class warfare starts. And, so, that is something I think we all have to be mindful of here is, you know, you do wonder, are we being more lenient- we don't mean to be, maybe, but are we being more lenient about what's going on Wall Street because maybe we don't understand the problem as well, it's a lot harder to comprehend and we're sitting there going, 'Oh, man, you're telling us the financial system, our ATMs might not-- okay, fine, bail them out.' The car industry, we all feel like we know something about and we're tougher on 'em and maybe it's because we also don't know anybody that works at GM, which is what Barnicle just said. We don't know those families. But, we do know somebody at JPMorgan Chase.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

WILLIE GEIST: Chuck, to your point really quickly. I just want to play something that we've been playing this morning. Michael Moore on "Countdown" last night, making almost the same point you're making right now. Let's listen to Michael Moore.

MICHAEL MOORE: When the three automaker chiefs went to Washington, they were treated like errant schoolchildren and then sent back home to Detroit to write an essay on why we should get free cash. When the Wall Street bankers and thieves came down there back in October, it was just the opposite. Nobody asked them what they flew down on. It was just, 'Step right up, boys. Oh, yeah. Big finance. Great. We love that.' Car guys show up from the Midwest, 'Oh, what's this, manufacturing? What do you guys do? You build things? Oh, no, we like the guys who just make money off their money.'

GEIST: Chuck, Congress did just kind of back up the flatbed of money to Wall Street but not so easy this time.

BRZEZINSKI: Wow. With no strings attached.

TODD: Right. By the way, I can't wait 'til our friends at NewsBusters, you know, compare, compare me to Michael Moore. I appreciate that. I appreciate that, Willie.

GEIST: You can handle it, Chuck.

TODD: No, but it does go- it does seem that there were not enough- whatever you want to call it- congressional checks on what the $700 billion will go for.

BRZEZINSKI: Correct.

TODD: It's why it was unpopular around the country. It was really only popular in the Amtrak corridor, you know? The New York to Washington corridor which, you know, in some ways forced the passage of this. And it still may be the right thing to do. Nobody- I'm not- I'm not criticizing it, but it is just the perception of how we covered that, how politicians reacted to that versus how they're reacting to the auto bailout. And it may be that, you know what, it is time to get tougher on those guys. But, you know, the tough love should be spread out when we're handing out billions of dollars in bailout money.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org