A political war of sorts has broken out inside MSNBC, with Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough criticizing prime-time talking head Keith Olbermann for his scathing criticism of Scott Brown, the Republican candidate in Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts.
"Olbermann calls Brown a 'homophobic racist reactionary' who 'supports violence against women.' How reckless and how sad," Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House, Tweeted Monday evening.
In a "quick comment" section on his show, Countdown, Monday night, Olbermann referred to reports that Brown had speculated that President Obama was born out wedlock; his opposition to funding Massachusetts Red Cross workers who went to help in the 9/11 rescue efforts; his support of a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; and his (disputed) approval of a supporter's urgings that someone "shove a curling iron up" the backside of his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley.
"In short, in Scott Brown, we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees," Olbermann said. "In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as an unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States."
It was that comment that got Scarborough's blood boiling. In another Tweet later Monday night, Scarborough said, "It is no longer enough to simply disagree with someone. These days some feel the need to call opponents evil. It happens on both extremes."
Moments later, he added: "Just as when Beck called the President racist, this sort of rhetorical extremism must be discouraged. It cheapens the debate."
"This isn’t the first time Scarborough has essentially called out Olbermann, but on-air, it is never by name," writes Steve Krakauer at Mediaite. "His one reference on Morning Joe today to the Olbermann comment followed the same model. 'A certain person on this network, whose name will not be mentioned, went on a tirade the likes of which are sad and pathetic,' he said."
"Is it MSNBC civil war?" Krakauer asks. "Not quite. But we’ll see if Olbermann has a response tonight – especially if the 'bad joke' ends up winning."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Jan. 18, 2010.