MSNBC's Buchanan compounded sexist comments, misquoted Samuel Johnson

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

Referring to comments he had made about Sen. Hillary Clinton's voice, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan said on the February 27 edition of Morning Joe, "Look, the famous Dr. Johnson, and I hate to repeat it, said, you know, 'To see a woman speaking is to watch a dog walking on its hind legs ... Sure, he said you're surprised not to see it done -- not that it's not done well, but to see it done at all."

During the February 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan referred to comments -- noted by Media Matters for America -- he had made on the previous day's broadcast about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's voice. Buchanan stated, "Wait, are they arguing about the line I've used in my speeches when I go out there? I said her voice rises to a level that every husband in America," at which point co-host Joe Scarborough interrupted and said, "Don't say that again; they think that's sexist." Buchanan replied, "But there's no doubt about it," and co-host Mika Brzezinski stated, "It is sexist." Then, referring to 18th-century author Samuel Johnson, Buchanan stated: "Look, the famous Dr. Johnson, and I hate to repeat it, said, you know, 'To see a woman speaking is to watch a dog walking on its hind legs,' " adding: "Sure, he said you're surprised not to see it done -- not that it's not done well, but to see it done at all." Brzezinski replied, "[W]ow, wow," and Scarborough asked, "Who is this Dr. Johnson?" Buchanan replied, "Boswell's Dr. Johnson, for heaven's sakes."

Buchanan misquoted Johnson. In his book The Life of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell wrote that he told Johnson, "I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach," to which Johnson replied, "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Scarborough had introduced the segment by saying to Buchanan, "[Y]ou upset some people on a website ... yesterday with something you said." Yesterday, Media Matters noted that Buchanan claimed that when Clinton "raises her voice, and when a lot of women do, you know, it's -- as I say -- it reaches a point ... where every husband in America ... has heard at one time or another." During that broadcast, Brzezinski replied: " Oh, Pat, you're lucky you're not here in the studio, I'm telling you." Buchanan replied: " I know that's a sexist comment ... but there's truth to it! ... There's truth to it."

From the February 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Hey, speaking of which, Pat, you upset some people on a website --

BRZEZINSKI: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: -- yesterday with something you said.

BRZEZINSKI: You upset me tremendously.

SCARBOROUGH: Upset Mika tremendously.

BRZEZINSKI: I am. As a woman --

SCARBOROUGH: But do you remember back in 1988 when people said that George Bush senior reminded every woman of their first husband?

BUCHANAN: Their first husband, right.

SCARBOROUGH: Have you d that?

BUCHANAN: Sure, they used to use it all the time.

SCARBOROUGH: Everybody said it all the time, right?

BRZEZINSKI: So no men have to [unintelligible].

SCARBOROUGH: Well now Mike Barnicle got in trouble a couple of weeks ago --

BRZEZINSKI: Oh boy, here we go.

SCARBOROUGH: -- for saying that Hillary Clinton reminded every -- every husband of his first wife.

BRZEZINSKI: OK. Yep.

SCARBOROUGH: It was this huge explosion.

BRZEZINSKI: At probate court.

SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no, I'm just saying, though, this is the hypocrisy, this is the double standard. There was this huge explosion and everybody was outraged. I had friends call me up, women calling me up, saying, "This is the worst thing, Barnicle is -- needs -- " and I said, don't you remember back in '88, everybody said George Bush reminded every woman of her first husband?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, you know what? Let's bring it to today. And I think it's fair to say that her tone's being picked apart, and I just wonder if, you know, you saw the many different dimensions of a male candidate, if it would be so noted, Pat?

BUCHANAN: Wait, are they arguing about the line I've used in my speeches when I go out there? I said her voice rises to a level that every husband in America --

SCARBOROUGH and BRZEZINSKI: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, yes, yes. Don't say that again; they think that's sexist.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes, that was a problem, Pat.

SCARBOROUGH: They think that's sexist.

BUCHANAN: But there's no doubt about it --

BRZEZINSKI: It is sexist.

BUCHANAN: -- it's a very, very difficult thing. Look, the famous Dr. Johnson, and I hate to repeat it, said, you know, "To see a woman speaking is to watch a dog walking on its hind legs. That you are --

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, who's that? What?

BRZEZINSKI: Make sure we quote that.

BUCHANAN: Dr. Johnson.

SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Johnson?

BRZEZINSKI: Make sure we clip that.

BUCHANAN: Sure, he said you're surprised not to see it done -- not that it's not done well, but to see it done at all.

SCARBOROUGH: What are you doing, Pat?

BRZEZINSKI: Wow, wow, um --

SCARBOROUGH: Who is this Dr. Johnson, when he's --

BUCHANAN: Boswell's Dr. Johnson, for heaven's sakes --

BRZEZINSKI: Let me help you out here, two men, two white men on the set --

BUCHANAN: --you learned that in -- you learned that in graduate school, didn't you, Joe?

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Pat Buchanan, Mika Brzezinski
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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