Maddow Laughs at RNC Chair for Suggesting GOP Debates on MSNBC Were a Bad Idea

On Thursday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow mocked Republican party chairman Reince Priebus for listing as a lesson from 2012 "controlling the debate process, getting involved in moderators and networks and all of these other issues so that we don`t have chaos."

Maddow found it odd that the GOP chair would (very sensibly) say "we just can`t have MSNBC, you know, hosting a debate at the Reagan Library only to have their network comment -- you know, make the commentary afterwards for three hours about the debate of the Republican Party. I mean, it’s ridiculous."

The GOP allowed that in 2011 with Brian Williams, and was "rewarded" with a bucket of nasty, shamelessly liberal questions. The worst one was thrown at Texas Gov. Rick Perry: "Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?"

MADDOW: Do you think they know that MSNBC would talk about what happened at a Republican debate even if it happened on another network? We were the reason you guys lost? We're what needs to be fixed in the Republican Party? Seriously? I find this to be excellent news.

Remember, Maddow likes to look silly and tell people that MSNBC is "not operating with a political objective...We are not being directed in poltitical talking points in any way."

Maddow then turned to top Obama strategist David Axelrod for his favorite warmed-over Democrat talking points on how those far-right Republicans did all the damage to themselves for being so fringy and ultraconservative:

AXELROD: It’s interesting to hear Chairman Priebus posit what he did there because my recollection is the most damaging -- one of the most damaging exchanges in all those debates came on a Fox debate when they all said they wouldn`t accept one dollar of new revenue --

MADDOW: Right.

AXELROD: -- even if it entailed -- brought with it $10 of cuts. The problem wasn`t the format. It wasn`t the venue. It wasn`t the commentary after the debates. It`s what the candidates said in the debates. And they were responding to the most strident voices in the party, who were in control of that party.

A video clip of the entire segment is below:

Axelrod then strangely argued Republican candidates don’t want any primary debates, since it makes them go through an extreme "right-wing tollbooth".

MADDOW: I'd like to think that they could fix that too by not having MSNBC or even NBC host a debate. But everybody would still weigh in.

AXELROD: Well, the truth is if you talk to them privately what they want is no debates. They don`t want any primary debates, because what happened to Mitt Romney is he had to pass through this toll booth, this right-wing toll booth in order to get the nomination and he made a calculation that it was worth doing because Barack Obama in his view was so vulnerable that just getting the nomination by any means necessary was enough.

MADDOW: Well, the other thing that's going on on that subject, on stridency and having to go through the sort of ideological toll booth. Since it is an odd-numbered year now, we keep getting told, well, the Republicans are going to moderate on these positions, they're going to moderate on gay rights, they`re going to moderate on immigration, they're going to start dialing back some stuff that was so alienating during the general election.

And we're seeing all sorts of ex-elected officials do that and all sorts of talking heads and columnists and things do that, but elected Republicans are not shifting on that subject even in an odd-numbered year. What`s holding them back?

AXELROD: Because many of them run in venues that are homogenous in terms of the party participation and the only thing they ever fear -- they never face a general election -- the only thing they fear are primaries. And those primaries tend to be dominated by the most strident voices in their party.

On Planet MSNBC, no Democrat is ever strident, and there are no ideological extremes to the Left.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis