Megyn Kelly to Scarborough's Face: How Can You Be a True Conservative If You Are at War With So Many of Their Icons?

Speaking for a lot of frustrated conservatives FNC’s Megyn Kelly tore into MSNBC host Joe Scarborough last night for claiming to be a man of the right, even though he routinely attacks “conservative icons” like talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

During a lively back and forth interview, on Tuesday’s The Kelly File, the host called out the former GOP congressman: “You don’t get along with [Sean] Hannity, our own Hannity. You don't get along with Rush [Limbaugh]. You criticize Glenn Beck. So how can you be a true conservative if you’re so, if you’re at war with so many of the conservative icons?” (video after the jump)

Invited on to promote his new book The Right Path Scarborough took several shots from the feisty Kelly. And while the overall tone of the interview was friendly Kelly didn’t let Scarborough get away with much. When Scarborough insisted he only attacked “establishment” types and “amateur” candidates Kelly challenged him:

KELLY: I don’t know if it’s so much your criticism of people like Christine O’Donnell but you don’t get along with [Sean] Hannity our own Hannity. You don’t get along with Rush [Limbaugh].

SCARBOROUGH: I love Sean Hannity. I love Rush.

KELLY: You criticize Glenn Beck. So how can you be a true conservative if you’re so, if you’re at war with so many of the conservative icons?

SCARBOROUGH: Well first of all I’m not at war. As you know I’m a uniter not a divider. Rush and I get along very well.

KELLY: I don’t know that! I don’t know you at all!

SCARBOROUGH: Well I’m just making this up as I go along. No, Rush and I get along well. And Glenn and I have talked a good bit. Sean, you have to talk to Sean. I don’t know about Sean.

The FNC host didn’t waste time in putting Scarborough on the defensive early on in the interview she brought up Scarborough’s past shaming of conservatives: “Now in researching you and your book, I found that at past, you know, conservative confabs like CPAC you said at one point that, that is for many about hate and resentment and pushing talk radio and so on. That, comments like that are what lead a lot of Republicans to say you are a faux conservative who they think are lecturing, is lecturing them on the way forward.”

Scarborough insisted that was an old charge: “No they, they don’t - that’s so 2011. They don’t say that about me any more.”

To which an incredulous Kelly responded: “They don’t?!”

The following exchange was aired on the May 27 edition of FNC’s The Kelly File:

MEGYN KELLY: Now in researching you and your book, I found that at past, you know, conservative confabs like CPAC-

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.

KELLY: -you said at one point that, that is for many about hate and resentment and pushing talk radio and so on. That, comments like that are what lead a lot of Republicans to say you are a faux conservative who they think are lecturing, is lecturing them on the way forward.

SCARBOROUGH: No they, they don’t - that’s so 2011. They don’t say that about me any more.

KELLY: They don’t?!

SCARBOROUGH: Well you know I think what happened was, we had, we had 10 years of big government Republicanism and what people found out was after the Bush years that big government Republicanism -

KELLY: Spending.

SCARBOROUGH: - was as bad as big government liberalism. And I was always critical of the Republican establishment. In 2010 a lot of people who agreed with me got elected. But there were also some zany candidates who said some really stupid things out there. And when we were putting candidates up that had to go on and have 30-second commercials that started with “I am not a witch.”

KELLY: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: Or they tried to redefine rape. I’m just sitting there in my living room going-

KELLY: It wasn’t a high point for the Republican Party.

SCARBOROUGH: I’m just sitting there thinking this is probably not gonna  help us get the swing voters. I was always talking about the fact that we had amateurs on the field. Listen I think what’s happened in this year’s elections, great news. You’ve got the establishment, you got the Tea Party, they’ve fused together.

KELLY: You think they are coming together?

SCARBOROUGH: Oh there’s no doubt about it. Listen, again, I’m on the side of those candidates that was critical of the Republican establishment in D.C., the Chamber of Commerce and a lot of people who just wanted to be in charge, wanted to be in power. If we’re going to be in power we can’t be big government Republicans. You know we passed $7 trillion drug benefit plan when Bush was president and we didn’t pay for a dime of it.

KELLY: Well let me ask you this because it’s-

SCARBOROUGH: Same thing with the bank bailouts in 2008.

KELLY: I don’t know if it’s so much your criticism of people like Christine O’Donnell but you don’t get along with [Sean] Hannity our own Hannity. You don’t get along with Rush [Limbaugh].

SCARBOROUGH: I love Sean Hannity. I love Rush.

KELLY: You criticize Glenn Beck. So how can you be a true conservative if you’re so, if you’re at war with so many of the conservative icons?

SCARBOROUGH: Well first of all I’m not at war. As you know I’m a uniter not a divider. Rush and I get along very well.

KELLY: I don’t know that! I don’t know you at all!

SCARBOROUGH: Well I’m just making this up as I go along. No, Rush and I get along well. And Glenn and I have talked a good bit. Sean, you have to talk to Sean. I don’t know about Sean. But I can tell you, the most important thing is that we move forward with conservative ideas. There’s no doubt I’ve upset a lot of people because I was against the Republican establishment. When I left Congress we had a balanced budget. Eight years later, nine years later a lot of Republicans kept their mouth shut. They just saluted because they were in power at the White House. Hold on a second!

KELLY: Well why do you take so much income then? You know is it because your this lone voice that-

SCARBOROUGH: I’ve got to finish. The fact of the matter is we doubled the national debt, we took $155 billion surplus.

KELLY: You’re talking policy, I’m talking about perception. You know because-

SCARBOROUGH: Well policy matters to me.

KELLY: I’m giving you an opportunity because I get the e-mail from a lot of our viewers. They say, “well I don’t want to hear from him he’s a faux conservative. He’s, he’s a R.I.N.O.! You know we, anybody who’s not on team-

SCARBOROUGH: I gotta say you keep saying that. I just don’t hear that. I've been to New Hampshire, I’ve been to South Carolina.

KELLY: It’s true. Trust me.

SCARBOROUGH: No, no I’m saying-

KELLY: I’m not saying you are, you are, I’m saying that’s what they’re saying.

SCARBOROUGH: I’m telling you look at my record and that’s the great thing about being on TV, being in Congress, I’ve been consistent. I’ve been a small government conservative for a very long time. And the fact is, if people don't like me because I was critical of the Republican establishment when there was a Republican in the White House that’s fine. But here’s the deal. I’m conservative when Republicans are in the White house, I’m conservative when Democrats are in the white house.



KELLY: Are you going to be in the White House? Do you want to be in the White House?

SCARBOROUGH: No. I’m happy where I am right here. This is a great studio!

KELLY: Isn’t this nice? It’s beautiful isn’t it. There’s still a blond woman on that set interrupting you at every turn.  

SCARBOROUGH: I swear to God. Whether it’s like 6:00 in the morning or 9:00 at night. Come on. Somebody help me out here.

KELLY: Only, only if you snapped your fingers at me you’d would have eight fingers instead of ten.

SCARBOROUGH: There you boy. Boy you really, you did your research, didn’t ya?

[Kelly laughs]

SCARBOROUGH: You take my low point over the past five years.

KELLY: C’mon you didn’t think I would give you a complete pass when you came over here? That’s the fun of having you!

SCARBOROUGH: That is the great thing about being here. You’re just like boom, boom. I’ll be ready for Mika tomorrow morning. But you know, again, the bottom line is, the most important thing is if people are upset at me they can be upset at me. I went after Newt Gingrich when he stopped being conservative.

KELLY: You sound like a politician, you sound like you’re gonna run some day. You bring it all back to policy. Every answer is like, “I’m gonna make my point to the American people. I did not have...” What? I went some place else.

SCARBOROUGH: And you sure did. You’re confusing me with somebody else.

KELLY: I gotta go. This is the book. “The Right Path” by Joe Scarborough. And he wants everybody to buy it. And we have so many viewers here on the Fox News Channel.

SCARBOROUGH: You do, it’s amazing! That’s why I came here. I want to thank, thank you Roger! I love you Roger! Thank you Bill Shine.

KELLY: You are paying homage to the right men.

SCARBOROUGH: Now let me just tell ya.

KELLY: It’s over between us. You got your own show! I got other guests!

SCARBOROUGH: If I wasn’t conservative. If I weren’t conservative would Roger Ailes let me come on this show?

KELLY: Thanks for being here. If you want to see more of Joe you can join his four viewers and see you tomorrow morning. No, just kidding, just kidding.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.