MSNBC.com Deceptively Edits Dave Brat to Suggest He Was 'Dodging' Questions

Editors at MSNBC.com trimmed down Republican congressional nominee Dave Brat's June 11 phone interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd in order to paint him as dodging questions from the Daily Rundown host. 

But a review of the full interview [listen to the mp3 audio here] shows that Brat had already and seemingly quite gladly answered a few policy questions on such hot issues as the minimum wage, immigration reform, and his stance on Wall Street's influence on the business wing of the GOP.


"Brat dodges Chuck Todd's questions," blared a teaser headline. "Brat: I just wanted to talk about the victory," reads the headline at the video link. "Virginia primary winner and Tea-Party member Dave Brat joins Chuck Todd to discuss his primary win – and it appears that’s all he wanted to talk about," was how MSNBC.com summarized the clip. 

Readers of the MSNBC.com website who hadn't the benefit of watching the interview earlier in the morning would have come away with a wildly different perspective than someone who watched the full interview. 

Below is the full segment's transcript. The portion underlined is the portion that MSNBC.com isolated:

CHUCK TODD, anchor: Back now with more on Congressman Eric Cantor's defeat last night. . I'm joined now by the man who defeated him. Economics professor Dave Brat. He pulled the stunning upset, and he joins me now on the phone. Professor Brat, good morning to you, sir. Congratulations.

DAVE BRAT: Hey, morning, Chuck. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

TODD: Well, let me ask, do you believe your victory is all the immigration issue? Do you say, if people say, boy you won this on immigration, you would say yes or, you would say, well, it's more than that?

BRAT: No, I think it's more than that. I mean, I've been trying to get it through to my local press.  I can give a stump speech that goes about 20 minutes, and immigration is a part of that aspect but I ran on the fiscal issues and the Republican creed, which starts off with the main thing I'm interested in, and that's a commitment to free markets. So then I went through them yesterday in the speech in brief, but the six planks in the Republican Creed are commitment to free markets, equal treatment of everyone under the law, fiscal responsibility, right, we're clearly in the ditch on that one, adherence to the Constitution, you know, 10th Amendment, moving things that don't belong at the federal level back down to the states, and a strong defense and faith in God and strong moral character. And that's what I ran on.

Amnesty at the end was a clear differentiator between myself and Eric Cantor. So it fits into the whole narrative and it also fits into the narrative that Eric just has not been present in the district and he was out of touch in supporting the Chamber [of Commerce] agenda on that one. I was door knocking. I know what's on the mind of the folks.

TODD: Would you call yourself an anti-Wall Street Republican?

BRAT: I'm not anti-Wall Street, I'm anti-distortions to free markets. Anything that distorts the free market I'm against. So when Wall Street goes astray, which they often do, I'm completely pro-business, but Adam smith, the founder of free market economics said when two or three business men get together, look out because collusion is right around the corner, right? And so our Founders were smart enough to know that. I'm not anti, but James Madison knew that what we want [is] a lot of competing factions, many people competing against each other so that no one becomes a monopoly and has power. Right now we have too many mini princes up there in D.C. We need more competition, not less.

TODD: Let me ask you a few other issue questions. We've talked a lot about immigration. Where are you on the minimum wage? Do you believe in it, and would you raise it?

BRAT: Minimum wage, no, I'm a free market guy. Our labor markets right now are already distorted from too many regulations.

I think [the] Cato [Institute] estimates, you know, there's $2 trillion of regulatory problems and then throw ObamaCare on top of that, the work hours is 30 hours a week. You can only hire, you know, 50 people. There's just distortion after distortion after distortion and we wonder why our labor markets are broken.

TODD: So should there be a minimum wage in your opinion?

BRAT: Say it again.

TODD: Should there be a minimum wage in your opinion?

BRAT: Um, I don't have a well-crafted response on that one. All I know is if you take the long-run graph over 200 years of the wage rate, it cannot differ from your nation's productivity. Right? So you can't make up wage rates. Right?

I would love for everyone in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, children of God to make $100 an hour. Right? I would love to just assert that that would be the case. But you can't assert that unless you raise their productivity. And then the wage follows. You know the -- 

TODD: It sounds like you're making the case against--

BRAT: -- the Left sometimes just thinks you can mandate, sure --

TODD: So it sounds like you're making a case against a federal mandated minimum wage.

BRAT: Um, I'm just making the case I just made, which is that you cannot artificially make up wage rates, they have to be related to productivity.

TODD: Let me ask you about trade agreements. There's a couple of big ones that actually [are] likely to come for you to vote on assuming you do get elected to Congress in November, a big one with Europe and a big one with Asia. In general, what are your view of trade agreements. Are you open to big trade agreements or not?

BRAT: Yeah, I'm a free trader. I mean, after World War II, the free trade GATT association brought tariffs roughly from 50 percent down to about four percent or less today. And that's been good for European trade with us. We set up our archenemies Japan and Germany after the war, started trading with them, and it enriched all of us. So I have a win-win positive view about relationships with other countries that respect the rule of law. And so we've got to move forward on that front as well. 

TODD: Let me ask you about something, a foreign policy question. Arming the Syrian rebels. Would you be in favor of that? With the U.S. military helping to arm the moderate Syrian rebels?

BRAT: Hey, Chuck, I thought we were just going to chat today about the celebratory aspects. I'd love to go through all of this but my mind is just uh, I didn't get much sleep last night.

TODD: No, no, I understand that. I just want to get a sense of--

BRAT:  I love all the policy questions, I'm happy to do them, but I just wanted to talk about the victory ahead and I wanted to thank everybody that worked so hard on my campaign. I'm happy to take policy issues at any time, I just wanted to call out a thanks to everybody today.

TODD: No, I understand that. Quickly on something on national security. Do you consider yourself an interventionist or an isolationist?

BRAT: I think the press is in the habit of doing juxtapositions like that that don't capture reality well. I'm a Ph.D. in economics and so you analyze every situation uniquely because every international situation is unique.

So I don't have a pattern that fits every single incidence, but I think it's absolutely necessary that the United States does project its power abroad. I think our Defense Department is bigger than the next ten combined. Without that I think would you have chaos, without our commitment to rights abroad and keeping the peace. But that does not mean that we should not ask some of the European countries to pay up part of the bill now. They've all become rich and developed and so it's time to share the burden.

TODD: All right. Mr. Brat, I will let you go. I know you're coach of your debate team there at Randolph Macon, or have been, so I figured you wouldn't mind a few extra policy questions.

BRAT:  No, I mean, I love it but give me [unintelligible] next time and I'm happy to do it. Thank you, Chuck.

TODD: You got it. We'll ship more coffee. Alright, thanks very much, Mr. Brat. We'll be following your campaign very closely.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters