You almost need a flak jacket to go on an MSNBC show these days - at least judging by the rapid fire attacks displayed on the March 2 "The Dylan Ratigan Show."
Either host Dylan Ratigan was trying to play to MSNBC's rabid liberal audience or he really has it in for the Tea Party movement based on some exaggerated notion it is nothing but hate and fear mongers. In an interview with Mark Williams, a conservative talk radio host and sometimes spokesman for the Tea Party Express, Ratigan asked Williams what he was doing to separate his legitimate effort from radical fringe elements in American political culture.
"Mark, how do you draw the bright line between the very admirable and understandable principles that are advocated by so many in the Tea Party as it pertains to a Constitutional definition of a democracy, separation of things like banking and investing, church and - I mean, you go to all these things, and those who would choose a more radicalized view or racist view and hide, if you will, inside of the Tea Party umbrella?" Ratigan said.
"Well, that's real simple," Williams replied. "There's wing-nuts and normal people."
But that wasn't good enough for Ratigan, who went on a tirade about how Williams should be more forceful in denouncing people who say they want to "kill blacks and Jews," as if they're an every day element of the national Tea Party movement.
"It's not that simple because when wing-nuts go to other political organizations and say, ‘I want to kill black people, I want to kill Jews,' whatever it may be, the organizer, for instance, if I was holding a Dylan Ratigan event and a bunch of people held up signs saying they wanted to kill blacks and Jews, I would say, ‘Would you kindly remove yourself, I don't accept people who follow me who are into killing blacks and Jews and women or whatever it may be,'" Ratigan said. "What confuses me about the Tea Party if the Tea Party's willingness to accept the wing-nuts without defining more crisply what the Tea Party's agenda is relative to those who just want to kill black people, for instance."
A slightly befuddled Williams asked Ratigan if he was accountable for crazy people.
"So that's our fault they're nuts?" Williams replied.
That set Ratigan off again and he reiterated the notion that fringe elements are welcome in the tea party movement.
"You shame them, Mark," Ratigan said. "It is your fault that unlike the Democrats or the Republicans or any other political group - so you're saying you accept racists and Nazis, is that what you're saying? Do you accept them in the Tea Party?"
The stalemate ended with Williams walking off the set, but not without some angry parting shots from Ratigan - accusing him of trying to use his show as a vehicle for propaganda.
"Do you have any intention of answering any of my questions," Ratigan said. "Let me ask you a question, Mark because I don't want to continue with this. You're wasting valuable oxygen. Can we please cut off this man's microphone? He has no interest in answering any of my questions. Mark, a pleasure - actually not really a pleasure. It was offensive. You're offensive. Your treatment of my show as a vehicle to spread your propaganda, ignore my questions, offensive. And an indication of what is wrong with the dialogue in this country, period. Not to mention a group that would accept Nazis and racists."