On his June 15 program, MSNBC's Martin Bashir misled viewers with claims that GOP presidential candidates, including and especially Newt Gingrich, were dead set on "grounding NASA." Yet not once did Bashir remind viewers it was President Obama who has been criticized by Apollo program veterans for ditching the agency's project to send missions back to the moon.
"Coming up, Newt Gingrich likes Tiffany diamonds but not manned space flight," Bashir teased viewers before a commercial break at 3:10 p.m. Eastern. "Why do he and the other GOP candidates want to ground NASA?" he added.
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"Next, Newt Gingrich and other GOP candidates want to ground NASA. The latest salvo in a concerted war on science?" Bashir provocatively asked on the way out to commercial break at 3:25 p.m., echoing a favored meme of MSNBC hosts that Republicans are anti-science.
Back from commercial break at 3:30, Bashir noted that aired a clip of President John F. Kennedy from May 25, 1961, laying out his goal for the U.S. to reach the moon by the end of the decade.
"Now I ask you to contrast that with what Newt Gingrich said at Monday's debate," Bashir snarled, showing a clip of Gingrich lamenting "bureaucracy after bureaucracy" and "failure after failure" in NASA's work since the moon landings of the late '60s and early '70s.
"Of course we now know how Mr. Gingrich likes to spend his money, but in difficult times, how much can America spend on space exploration?" Bashir asked as he introduced his guest, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium.
Yet at no point in that interview did Bashir note that Gingrich clarified his remarks in the debate by adding the following (emphasis mine):
I didn't say end the space program. We built the transcontinental railroads without a national department of railroads. I said you can get into space faster, better, more effectively, more creatively if you decentralized it, got out of Washington, and cut out the bureaucracy. It's not about getting rid of the space program, it's about getting to a real space program that works.
For his part, DeGrasse Tyson did dismiss Bashir's suggestion that the GOP candidates were anti-science:
BASHIR: Now, some people, finally, have suggested that this is another example of a war on science, some would say a war on education. Do you agree with that?
DEGRASSE TYSON: I didn't get that particular read when NASA was discussed in the Republican debate. Yes, NASA does a lot of great science, and there's very little criticism of that science.... There's broad support for this, bipartisan support in Congress.
Yet left unmentioned by Bashir was the displeasure that Apollo mission veterans like Neil Armstrong have expressed at President Obama's measures to slash NASA spending. From USA Today in April of last year (emphasis mine):
CAPE CANAVERAL — President Obama's plans for NASA could be "devastating" to the U.S. space program and "destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature," three legendary astronauts said in a letter Tuesday.
Neil Armstrong, who rarely makes public comments, was the first human to set foot on the moon. Jim Lovell commanded the famous Apollo 13 flight, an aborted moon mission. And Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan remains the last human to have walked on the lunar surface.
In statements e-mailed to the Associated Press and NBC, Armstrong and other astronauts took exception with Obama's plan to cancel NASA's return-to-the-moon program, dubbed Project Constellation.
Armstrong, in an e-mail to the AP, said he had "substantial reservations." More than two dozen Apollo-era veterans, including Lovell and Cernan, signed another letter Monday calling the plan a "misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future."
"Some of you may think we're being unfair by picking on poor old Newt Gingrich," Bashir admitted in his closing "Clear the Air" commentary.
Gee, Martin, when you distort and/or outright lie about the man's policy positions, what do you expect?
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