Why is Michael Smerconish hosting an MSNBC program?

››› ››› JOE BROWN

Given Michael Smerconish's history of intolerant, inflammatory comments, Media Matters asks: Why is MSNBC allowing him to host one of its programs?

During the previous week, Philadelphia-based radio personality Michael Smerconish hosted MSNBC News Live three times. Smerconish hosted the 12 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC News Live on August 7, 8, and 10.

While guest-hosting MSNBC's Scarborough Country and Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, Smerconish has done the following:

  • On the June 20 edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse as "naked pyramid pictures" at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud" at the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay.
  • On the April 4 broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish claimed that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies," and that "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" are "compromising our ability to win the war on terror." (He later blamed "the sissification of America" for the sentencing of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison instead of death, for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.)
  • On the November 23, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish called public prayer by Muslim men at a sporting event "wrong," and "a game" to remind the audience of terrorist attacks.
  • On the November 23, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, Smerconish asserted that educating women means "they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids."

Additionally, while hosting MSNBC News Live on August 10, Smerconish joined MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan in advocating torture and racial profiling as methods of combating terrorism. He also gushed with praise for President Bush, and asked whether Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont's primary victory over Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman would "strengthen the hand of the GOP to again say, 'We're the tough guys in the war on terror'? "

In response to Buchanan, who asserted that "this issue of how and what can we do to terrorists to make them tell the truth about imminent attacks" was "coming back up again," and touted the "extraordinary measures" that purportedly prevented a previous attack on airliners flying out of the Philippines, Smerconish stated:

SMERCONISH: [W]hen folks say, "Well, we can't torture because that's beneath the standards of the United States," my response is always to say, "Why do the best and the brightest that we have to do interrogations wish to go in that direction?" In other words, if it didn't work, why would our guys want to at least explore some of those methods, like waterboarding, by way of example?

Smerconish later asked former 9-11 commissioner and former Indiana Democratic House member Timothy Roemer if the foiling of an alleged terrorist plot by "individuals of Pakistani descent" against airliners taking off from Britain would "cause the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to say, 'We're at war with radical Islam and that fact should be taken into account when we're trying to protect our borders and our airports.' " He added: "I guess that I am referring ... to that dreaded 'p' word: 'profiling.' " Smerconish also asked Buchanan: "[I]f it turns out that these [purported terrorists] are elements of radical Islam, do you think Americans will finally have the stomach for profiling terrorists?"

Buchanan replied: "The question is, do you profile Muslims, of whom there are a billion worldwide, and do you profile Arabs and South Asians? And my guess is, Michael, you have got to look more closely at folks who come from cultures, civilization, and places where almost all of these terrorists come from."

Discussing the foiling of the alleged terrorist plot, Smerconish also asked: "Is it going to strengthen the hand of the GOP to again say, 'We're the tough guys in the war on terror'? " When Buchanan responded that the foiling of the alleged plot would "help" President Bush because "the country is going to look to him for leadership," Smerconish stated:

SMERCONISH: You know, when you say that, I think about the administration's high points, and -- and one high point -- a silver lining perhaps, to a tragedy is -- is "W" grabbing that bull horn at Ground Zero and saying, "The people who took down these buildings are going to hear from all of us soon." And I think that's what you're saying, that some of his best attributes come out against this type of an appalling backdrop.

From the August 10 edition of MSNBC News Live:

SMERCONISH: MSNBC's Patrick Buchanan joins us now. Pat, I want to talk a little bit about the political ramifications of what has transpired in the -- in the last nine or 10 hours. We just came out of this Connecticut primary. You know what happened to Joe Lieberman. Is it going to strengthen the hand of the GOP to again say, "We're the tough guys in the war on terror"?

BUCHANAN: Well, in a situation like this, which is an appalling threat to overseas travel, and a threat to murder as many people, perhaps, as died on 9-11, the president of the United States is going to move front and center, Michael, in this. He's going to speak to this issue in a couple of minutes. And I think, on the strictly speaking war on terror, that is the president's strongest hand, and there is no doubt the country is going to look to him for leadership. And quite frankly this looks like a triumph, a success of intelligence and hard work between Brits and Americans to keep the skies safe. So I don't see how it can but help the president of the United States and his administration in the estimation of the eyes of the American people.

SMERCONISH: You know, when you say that, I think about the administration's high points, and -- and one high point -- a silver lining perhaps, to a tragedy is -- is "W" grabbing that bull horn at Ground Zero and saying, "The people who took down these buildings are going to hear from all of us soon." And I think that's what you're saying, that some of his best attributes come out against this type of an appalling backdrop.

BUCHANAN: Yeah. The president is seen as a very strong, decisive leader in these things, a hard-charging leader. Frankly, that's what the country wants if people are blowing up airliners. Michael, another issue that's immediately going to come to the fore is this issue of how and what can we do to terrorists to make them tell the truth about imminent attacks. Suppose one or two of these 21 individuals said, "You may have gotten us, but we've got friends who are operating even now." What can you do to those two people to make them talk if there is an imminent danger of an airliner going over the Atlantic, and maybe being blown up? This is just like Bojinka, which was the plot in the Pacific to blow up nine airliners there. My understanding is in the Philippines, extraordinary measures were made to get some of those people to talk and reveal those plots, and they saved those airliners. Those questions are coming back up again.

SMERCONISH: Pat, you -- you describe a -- a literal example of the so-called "ticking time bomb" hypothetical. The question that I always ask, because you're right, this is the torture debate. We may as well have it right now. And when folks say, "Well, we can't torture because that's beneath the standards of the United States," my response is always to say, "Why do the best and the brightest that we have to do interrogations wish to go in that direction?" In other words, if it didn't work, why would our guys want to at least explore some of those methods, like waterboarding, by way of example?

BUCHANAN: Well, waterboarding was used on the individual that cut throat of Danny Pearl and who was behind 9-11. And from what I hear, five minutes of what can fairly be described maybe as torture, a threat, a belief he's going to be killed, caused him to spill his guts about all of these other plots. The moral question comes down to this: Can you use physical injury and pain on an individual -- whom you've got a right to execute for his crimes -- can you use physical pain and injury to make him tell about the coming murder of innocent people? In other words to prevent a far greater evil, can you do a lesser evil? That is the moral question there. Let me tell you another issue, Michael, that's coming up: immigration. These folks are come from -- apparently come from Pakistan. They've been in Britain maybe for a generation or two, but they are not assimilated into Western culture. They are not British truly, if you will. This whole issue in Britain -- it's huge in Europe. The whole "Eurabia" issue. And I think that it's going to inflame the immigration debate in the United States.

[...]

SMERCONISH: Congressman Roemer, preliminary reports suggest that these are individuals of Pakistani descent, perhaps British citizens, but Pakistanis. Is this going to finally cause the administration and the Department of Homeland Security to say, "We're at war with radical Islam, and that fact should be taken into account when we're trying to protect our borders and our airports?" And I guess that I am, sir, referring to that dreaded "p" word: "profiling."

[...]

SMERCONISH: Congressman Roemer, NBC's Bob Windrem is now reporting that the actual number of flights targeted was nine and that the plan was that each flight would have multiple plotters on board, each carrying a component that would then be combined in-flight. And -- and perhaps I'll put this to Pat Buchanan. Pat, if it turns out that, once again, these are elements of radical Islam, do you think Americans will finally have the stomach for profiling terrorists?

BUCHANAN: Look, the American people will profile terrorists. The question is, do you profile Muslims of whom there are a billion worldwide, and do you profile Arabs and South Asians? And my guess is, Michael, you have got to look more closely at folks who come from cultures, civilization and places where almost all of these terrorists come from. I mean, even on the matter of immigration -- I mean, Guatemalans caught at the border aren't the ones you worry about. There were 150,000 last year OTMs -- other than Mexicans -- caught on the Rio Grande. Of those who came into the country, all of them were told to appear in court, and 120,000 never showed up. Those are the ones you focus on most immediately. That's not to say you ignore the rest of the border. But clearly, you've got to go where the major problem is coming from, and I think that the American people will understand that.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Michael Smerconish
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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