Tea Party-Slandering MSNBCer Reid Steadfastly Refuses to Call Putin or Assad ‘Evil’

Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Monday, MSNBC host Joy Reid repeatedly refused to characterize either Russian president Vladimir Putin or Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as “evil.” During a contentious debate over Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine, Hewitt asked his guest point-blank, “Do you agree that what Russia is doing is evil?”

Reid hedged on her answer, replying:



I think what Russia is doing is troubling and is a problem in the world. I don’t really need to use characterizations like "evil." I think Russia is a bad actor, absolutely.
 

Reid then tried to deflect attention to, of all people, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani: “I think Giuliani thinks that Putin’s a star. I think today he said he’s a great leader or something like that.” In fact, Giuliani said that Putin is more of a leader than President Obama, which is different than calling him a great leader or a “star.”

Reid wouldn’t say what she thought of Putin, so Hewitt pressed her: “[B]ut Joy Reid, it’s a simple question. Is he evil?” However, Reid still refused to make such a judgment. She replied, "I’m not inside anybody’s mind. I don’t need to characterize anybody as evil. I don’t know Vladimir Putin.”

Hewitt then asked if it would be an evil act for Russia to attack Ukrainian bases with women and children inside. Reid only said it would be a “world crisis.”

The conservative radio host then switched gears and asked the liberal MSNBC host if she thought Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was evil. With a chuckle, Reid replied, “Oh, well, you know. I’m not even – like I said, I’m not characterizing people.” She went on to call him “an even worse actor and an awful human being.”

Hewitt asked again if she thought Assad was evil, and Reid responded by answering a question that Hewitt didn’t ask: “Would I like to see Bashar al-Assad gone? Absolutely.” Hewitt asked one final time if Assad was evil, and Reid refused to label him as such one last time. She said, “I don’t see the point of characterizing people like that. I think he’s a bad actor. I think he is a despicable leader, a despicable human being.”

That is the world that too many liberals live in – a world of moral uncertainty, where there is no good or evil and no brutal dictator is anything more than a “bad actor.” By refusing to characterize Putin and Assad as “evil,” Reid is essentially equating them with conservatives, whom she has vehemently attacked over the years.

Last July, for example, Reid compared the Tea Party to terrorists when it came to budget negotiations:
 

To put it another way, when somebody is threatening to bomb the stadium, you don’t go out and make a speech about how you’re willing to dismantle the stadium in order to appease them.
 

In October, Reid likened Republicans to hostage-takers for shutting down the government. She railed, “So they are now essentially taking hostages. But this is beyond a hostage situation. They have shot a hostage. They went ahead and shut the government down.”

And in September, Reid claimed that anti-ObamaCare Republicans were basically asking people to kill themselves:
 

[H]erein lies the great irony about the conservative objection to Obamacare. What are they actually asking people to do? They're actually asking you to essentially kill yourself, because if you get sick and you don't have insurance, and you can't be treated, you cannot survive a catastrophic illness.
 

She makes conservative Republicans sound like “bad actors,” which is how she characterized Putin and Assad. I guess to Reid, there is no difference between two repressive world leaders and the liberty-loving political party in this country.

Below is a transcript of the segment from The Hugh Hewitt Show:



HUGH HEWITT: Do you agree that what Russia is doing is evil?

JOY REID: I think what Russia is doing is troubling and is a problem in the world. I don’t really need to use characterizations like ‘evil.’ I think Russia is a bad actor, absolutely. I think it’s pretty clear who the bad actor here is. It’s Russia – who, by the way, a lot of the right – I think Giuliani thinks that Putin’s a star. I think today he said he’s a great leader or something like that. You have a lot of people on the right who’ve been quite, you know, keen on Vladimir Putin up until now. I think people have to now decide, do they still want to make him their hero because they hate Barack Obama so much when this is the way he’s acting? He’s old, Kremlin, Cold War Vlad. He’s doing what Vladimir Putin does, and now the rest of the world has to realize that this is not, you know, Vladimir Putin 2.0. This is Vladimir Putin 1.0.

HEWITT: But is he – but Joy Reid, it’s a simple question. Is he evil?

REID: That – you know what? I’m not inside anybody’s mind. I don’t need to characterize anybody as evil. I don’t know Vladimir Putin – I know what he’s doing is – it’s risky to his own country. I mean, it’s risky, obviously, to what the Ukrainians need in terms of security. I think he is a bad actor. I don’t need to call him evil, he’s a bad actor.

HEWITT: They’ve got a deadline in a couple of hours. They’re gonna open fire on these Ukrainian bases with women and children in it. Would that be an evil act that he’s authorizing?



REID: Right, you have intel that I don’t know if the U.S. government has. I think that if Russia were to escalate militarily in Ukraine, it would be a crisis. It would definitely be a crisis, and it would be a world crisis. And it’s not – I think that one of the problems we have is that we have this binary system, right, where people on the right – it feels good to say, ‘this person is evil, let’s bomb them.’ That is not foreign policy. That is bluster that may make Americans feel good, but A) there is no military solution there. Americans are not sending our troops in there to deal with this. We are not doing that.

HEWITT: I didn’t suggest that. I just wanted to call him evil, ‘cause I –

REID: – couple times. I don’t think that’s necessary. We need to deal with it. We have to still deal with Russia.

HEWITT: Do you call anybody evil?

REID: – make it easier – yeah, but does that make it easier? It makes it easier for us to deal with Iran and Russia. We still have to deal with them on Syria. This is somebody that is there, that we’re not going to depose Vladimir Putin. We’ve got to deal with him.

HEWITT: Joy, is Assad evil?

REID: Bashar Assad?

HEWITT: Yeah.

REID: Oh, well, you know. [chuckles] I’m not even – like I said, I’m not characterizing people. Bashar al-Assad is an even worse, an even worse actor and an awful human being. That is a noxious, despicable regime. We’d be better off if he weren’t there. The people of Syria are trying their best to do something about it. Again, there’s no American military solution to be imposed there, either, and I doubt your listeners want us to go in there and try to impose that.

HEWITT: But is he evil?

REID: Would I like to see Bashar al-Assad gone? Absolutely.

HEWITT: Well, yeah, but I just want to know if you think he’s evil.

REID: I don’t – I don’t see the point of characterizing people like that. I think he’s a bad actor. I think he is a despicable leader, a despicable human being.

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