MSNBC's Deutsch Frets Over 'Anger in America,' Incorrectly Labels IRS Plane Bomber a Republican

MSNBC's Donny Deutsch kicked off a week-long segment on Monday about "America the Angry" and hinted that the "rageaholics" in this country could create another Oklahoma City-style bombing. After one guest mentioned Joe Stack, the man who flew a plane into an IRS building in February, Deutsch wrongly derided, "I don't know whether he was Republican or Democrat. I'm assuming he was probably a Republican."

In fact, Stack's manifesto, found after his death, included rants against capitalism, George W. Bush and religion. These are hardly the standard comments of a Republican. At times during the interview, Deutsch, who is serving as a substitute host on News Live, seemed annoyed that his three guests didn't agree that the U.S. is on the verge of another domestic terrorist event.

After former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating shot down his argument, he retorted, "Governor Keating, I wish I agreed with you that this time doesn't feel any different than any other times." Author Peter Wood also disagreed that all this "jubilant anger" could lead to "a lot more Oklahoma City's."

Trying a third time, Deutsch turned to conservative Kevin Jackson. The guest MSNBC host chided:

DONNY DEUTSCH: Am I crazy or is the level of vitriol, the bombings haven't happened yet, and, God willing, they're not going to happen, but, the level of vitriol that one would suggest is a precursor to violent acts, it is a heightened sense at least a heightened sense in my adult lifetime. Am I the only one feeling this?

Jackson dead panned, "Yeah, I think you may be."

A transcript of the April 19 segment, which aired at 3:32pm EDT, follows:

DONNY DEUTSCH: I'll be here all week with a special focus, "America the Angry." We have become a nation of finger pointers and rageaholics, all with a list of grievances against the government, Wall Street, our parents, our kids. You name it, we'll blame it. So, this week, I want to look at what's causing this cultural shift and what it might mean for America. And, maybe we can release one tenth of one percent of the anger. So, let's get right back to it. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City that murdered 168 people, including 19 children. It remains the worst act of domestic terrorism in the nation's history and it was the direct result of anger at the government. April 19th has been a very dark day in America. In '92 three people died in the siege on Ruby Ridge, Idaho. One year later 82 people died at the ranch at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas and then two years later Oklahoma City, all on this day. Frank Keating is the former governor of Oklahoma and president of the American Council of Life Insurers. Kevin Jackson is the author of The Big Black lie and founder of the BlackSphere.net. And, finally, Peter Wood is the author of A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America. Now, guys, let me just start this off. This is a little different than what mostly happens on cable TV. I'm going to challenge each of you to play a little bit of the other side. 'Cause Maybe there are two sides to a lot of views. Maybe purple is a sexier color than blue or red. Former Governor Keating, I want to start with you. President Clinton came out and said that, you know, there is a lot going on right now that feels pre-Oklahoma City, then of course Rush Limbaugh came back at him and said it's all on your shoulders from here on in. What do you see today versus what you felt in the days, weeks, months leading up to that horrible tragedy?

FRANK KEATING (Frm. Oklahoma governor): Well, Donny, with all due respect to President Clinton I, as a former FBI agent, I was the first Reagan U.S. attorney confirmed and supervised most of the federal law enforcement establishment from the Secret Service, Customs, ATF, U.S. marshals and the like at both Justice and Treasury. So, I see a larger sweep. I mean, the tax protest movement, obviously that was a significant, remains a significant source of anger and frustration. Back in the '70s, when I was an FBI agent in San Francisco there was nothing more violent and angry than the SDS, the Weather fugitives, the Weather Underground. Those people wanted to destroy the United States as well. So you always have an American history, a common denominator, anger and hostility at tax collectors and government. But, you rarely cross the line into violence. That's when legitimate First Amendment rights end. But with all due respect to President Clinton, there has always been anger in society. Here in Oklahoma City, McVeigh somehow or other was freaked out over what happened in Waco with the Branch Davidian compound two years earlier and he did this mayhem act here in Oklahoma City and killed 168 of my neighbors and friends. But, unfortunately, it's not infrequent in American history and, fortunately, of course, most people are excellent citizens and hopefully will blow the whistle on people, the crazies like those that did this act here.

DEUTSCH: Governor Keating, I wish I agreed with you that this time doesn't feel any different than any other times. Peter Wood, you talk about new anger old anger. The old anger was the days where, almost angry, Gary Cooper type angry was not masculine, was not the way- you didn't show the anger. You kind of kept it inside. And now jubilant anger, in your face anger, self-serving anger is in vogue. Doesn't that lead to potentially a lot more Oklahoma Citys than Keating is saying than any other point in time?

PETER WOOD: No. I don't think so. I think Governor Keating is right that explosions of anger into violence have always happened, that anger, itself, doesn't necessarily lead to violence. And this exuberant kind of anger now where it feels good to be angry and tearing off verbally at other people doesn't necessarily mean we're going to start blowing up more buildings.

DEUTSCH: Kevin, I guess, boy, you guys are feeling something different, seeing something different, watching different kind of TV shows. Am I crazy or is the level of vitriol, the bombings haven't happened yet, and, God willing, they're not going to happen, but, the level of vitriol that one would suggest is a precursor to violent acts, it is a heightened sense at least a heightened sense in my adult lifetime. Am I the only one feeling this?

KEVIN JACKSON (Author, The Big Black Lie): Yeah. I think you may be. I certainly don't sense that at all. I think people are angry that the government is not listening to them and they're doing- they're exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and to address these grievances. But I don't really get the feeling that anybody is going over the edge with this. In fact, I think the passive anger of the left sometimes goes unnoticed. For example-

DEUTSCH: Kevin, let me interrupt you a second. I'm not talking left or right here. I'm talking about a guy who flew a plane into an IRS building a couple months ago because of a tax issue. Forget- I don't know whether he was Republican or Democrat. I'm assuming he was probably a Republican. But, either way-

JACKSON: He was a Democrat.

DEUTSCH: Okay. I stand corrected. Either way, that is not a bit of an over reaction and that's a one in a million situation. Is that what we're all saying here?

JACKSON: Well, I just don't believe that- you're going to get the one offs and a lot of times politics plays the game of let's look at the extreme. And in this case the majority of the people are not going to over react. And I believe it's really an attempt to demagogue movements like militias which for the most part are very law abiding and the tea party is a secondary- ancillary. They're trying to essentially grab that as well. I don't believe most people are reacting to that kind of anger.

DEUTSCH: Governor Keating, obviously a former FBI guy-

KEATING: Donny, let me-

DEUTSCH: Go ahead.

KEATING: Okay. I was going to say I don't mean to inject wry humor here but I think the tea party movement generally upper middle aged people, white males, and prosperous. You know, most of us can't be violent. We're too old. But the reality is I know a number of people who are mad as heck at the government, high taxes, heavy regulation, they just aren't happy at all and for the first time in their lives they're not just voting. They're picking up cardboard signs. They're putting together a sign saying down with the government. Down with whomever the elected official is. I don't think that's unhealthy at all. Matter of fact I think to let that steam out is probably fine. The challenge for me as a former FBI agent, former law enforcement guy, is to encourage people if they see somebody going beyond that and really whacking out to let us know so we can do something about it because we want to save lives. We lost all these wonderful people here in Oklahoma City 15 years ago including 19 babies. McVeigh was mad at the ATF, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the FBI. Guess what? Not one ATF agent was harmed and the FBI wasn't even in this building. He killed 168 people, some standing in line to get Social Security. What did that have to do with his beef? Absolutely nothing.

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