MSNBC’s Richard Lui Hypes GOP’s Supposed ‘Empathy Gap’

It should come as no surprise that when Republicans don’t support liberal polices such as raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid or extending food stamp benefits that MSNBC will slander them as heartless and compassionless. That was the basic message during a segment on January 8 between fill-in host Richard Lui and NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray.

The segment began with Lui hyping a NBC News “First Read” piece discussing how the GOP needs to close its “empathy gap” with Democrats and essentially support liberal policies in order to do so. Mark Murray began his analysis by claiming that, “2013 wasn't a really good year for the Republican Party delivering on what that RNC after-election autopsy recommended.” [See video after jump.]

Murray then began spewing liberal talking points on how the GOP can close its “empathy gap," referring to how more Americans polled on the matter believe Democrats care more about the plight of the disadvantaged:

The farm legislation ended up being separated out from food stamps that House Republicans ended up wanting. You saw Republican governors and Republican controlled state legislatures decided not to expand Medicaid in their states under the health care law and then most recently you’ve seen Republicans line up in opposition, not all Republicans as we saw a handful of Senate Republicans voted in favor of the legislation, but that unemployment benefits and it has put Republicans a little bit on the defensive on this particular issue. 

Lui followed this up by agreeing that the GOP has an “empathy gap” problem, asking Murray what the GOP can do to essentially be more liberal:

So is it possible then for 2014 and the midterms and 2016, to get them in line, if you will, so that this message does get through to voters in time for either one of those voting cycles? 

Later on, Murray employed a frequent MSNBC topic, referencing Mitt Romney’s “famous 47% remark” and how “Republicans want to be able to address, how do we get low-income voters, people who are impoverished to vote for us and see our party as the champion of us?”

Nowhere in the segment did Murray or Lui bother to discuss the serious problems with expanding Medicaid or increasing food stamps and unemployment benefits, instead agreeing that they just need to be done. To the folks at MSNBC, the GOP must be more liberal or in their words close their “empathy gap” if they want to be competitive in future presidential elections.

See relevant transcript below.


MSNBC

NEWS NATION

JANUARY 7, 2014

2:34 p.m. Eastern

RICHARD LUI: Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's “War on Poverty.” President Johnson declared that during his State of the Union address on January 8th, 1964. Marking that anniversary, Republican Senator Marco Rubio will be delivering a speech on income inequality and the American dream. Our NBC News "First Read" team says it's an attempt by the GOP to close its empathy gap. "First Read" notes in its post-election autopsy, the RNC said "The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life." So, how is that message doing? Joining us right now, NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray. So Mark, when you are looking at this and it's hard to believe the year has already gone by. That being put out coming from RNC, how does a rank and file react to that suggestion, if you will? 

MARK MURRAY: Well, 2013 wasn't a really good year for the Republican Party delivering on what that RNC after-election autopsy recommended. You end up seeing a few things on Capitol Hill. For example, the farm legislation ended up being separated out from food stamps that House Republicans ended up wanting. You saw Republican governors and Republican controlled state legislatures decided not to expand Medicaid in their states under the health care law and then most recently you’ve seen Republicans line up in opposition, not all Republicans, as we saw a handful of Senate Republicans voted in favor of the legislation, but that unemployment benefits and it has put Republicans a little bit on the defensive on this particular issue. 

LUI: So is it possible then for 2014 and the midterms and 2016, to get them in line, if you will, so that this message does get through to voters in time for either one of those voting cycles? 

MURRAY: Well, you are seeing Republicans like Marco Rubio as you mention in intro as well as Paul Ryan who was 2012 vice presidential running mate wanting to talk about poverty. Marco Rubio is giving a speech tomorrow. You end up having Paul Ryan in an interview with our colleague Brian Williams later this week. The big question Richard, is this kind of lip service in a speech here or there or is this something that's really going to be put into policy and have a lot of meat on the bones and something that these people want to talk about week after week after week month after month and that remains to be seen. 

LUI: So it might be possible. Put this in context for us. In previous eras if you will of the Republican Party and the RNC when such suggestions were made coming from headquarters, how are they handled? We commonly, in the '80s would talk about Republicans being rank and file, and definitely following a similar sheet of music. This seems to be very different this time around. 

MURRAY: Well, it is. And one of the goals of a political party is to win elections and when Mitt Romney ended up mentioning his famous 47% remark where he said I don't care about this kind of swath of voters, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in a presidential general election. Midterm elections, Republicans are looking pretty fine because not as many people turn out to vote. You end up having a disproportionate amount of white voters, more upscale voters, more seniors participating. But to win future presidential contests you want votes from everybody. And that was the message the RNC had at the beginning of 2013 and it is something, I think you are seeing Republicans want to be able to address how do we get low-income voters, people who are impoverished to vote for us and see our party as the champion of us. And that's one of the debates that’s going to be going on throughout the year Richard. 

LUI: NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray. And if you want to read more on that you can go to NBCnews.com on what we're talking about this segment. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.