MSNBC's Martin Bashir on Tuesday snarled at a fellow liberal, Congressman Alan Grayson, for daring to compare the National Security Agency's spying program to Nazi Germany. This is the same Bashir who, on January 14, 2013, compared conservatives to Hitler.
Linking Grayson to the dreaded National Rifle Association, Bashir attacked, "The NRA says a bill which prohibits a gun registry is actually an echo of Hitler. And, of course, you've mentioned the Nazis in connection with the NSA." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] In January, however, Bashir lectured, "If anyone deserves to be equated with Hitler on the issue of firearms, then it's not the President. It's the NRA." Mr. Bashir, are Nazi comparisons wrong or not?
On Tuesday, Grayson fired back at Bashir, wondering how the TV anchor feels about having his phone records tracked. Bashir, who on January 9, 2013, compared a Republican governor to a murderous dictator, huffed, "Our viewers have absolutely no interest in my view."
The MSNBC anchor demanded, "And what I'm asking you is do you think you were being as counterfactual as the NRA by invoking Hitler and North Korea?"
Grayson shot back at Bashir: "You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. For instance, if we lowered the speed limit to ten miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer."
(How does Grayson feel about gun control?)
In this case, the congressman appears to be taking a consistant ideological position. Bashir, however, has made a shift. Hitler comparisons are fine for conservatives, but not okay for a liberal president.
A partial transcript is below:
ALAN GRAYSON [on NSA director Keith Alexander]: The NSA is keeping a record of every single telephone call that you make, every single phone call that I make, every single phone call that every American makes. What he failed to show that kind of, basically, Big-Brother-is-watching-you" type surveillance is necessary or even that it helped in any of those situations that he described. Similarly, with regard to the PRISM program, the document that was released in the leak indicates that there are e-mails that are being transcribed VOIP, which is the content of telephone calls. There are pictures being downloaded from apple, from Google, from Microsoft and this has been going on now for seven years. No, I'm sorry. To say that they've done their job reasonably well overall and prevented terrorist attacks does not mean they have to induce this level of intrusion to keep us safe. It's a disconnect.
MARTIN BASHIR: Congressman, aren't you being as counterfactual as the NRA when you invoke North Korea and Nazi Germany? I mean, the NRA says a bill which prohibits a gun registry is actually an echo of Hitler. And, of course, you've mentioned the Nazis in connection with the NSA.
GRAYSON: Martin, let me ask you, how do you feel about the fact that the government is keeping a record of every single phone call you make? Are you happy with that or are you unhappy with that?
BASHIR: If you wouldn't mind, sir, I'm merely here to ask you certain questions. And our viewers have absolutely no interest in my view. They're interested in your view as an elected member of Congress and a responsible member of Congress. And what I'm asking you is do you think you were being as counterfactual as the NRA by invoking Hitler and North Korea?
GRAYSON: Martin, you are completely missing the point. The point is that we're taking measures that are not correlated in any sense with our safety. And even if they were, it would be beneath our dignity as human beings. That's what this is all about. All right, listen: You could always make people safer by taking extreme measures. For instance, if we lowered the speed limit to ten miles per hour, people would be safer. If we outlawed knives and forks, people would be safer. If we made everybody fly on the airlines naked, people would be safer. None of those things corresponds to my sense of human dignity. And I'm not the only one who feels that way.