MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough spent a good deal of his program Monday morning blasting Fox News for stoking violence with “coup” talk — but he blamed Glenn Beck for turning the network in a darkly conspiratorial direction.
The “Morning Joe” host called out the competition at the start of the program, accusing the network of pushing a constitutional crisis that could provoke violent reaction, and he later returned to the topic.
“It’s very dangerous, because blood will be on the hands of people that whip people into a frenzy and lie,” Scarborough said. “But they are saying there’s a coup going on right now, which is one of the most extraordinarily irresponsible things I have heard a major network do. That’s what they have been saying all weekend.”
He said these “irresponsible” reports, which the president helps legitimize, will almost certainly drive someone to take violent action.
“When you’re spreading a message that the Federal Bureau of Investigations and that a Vietnam War hero who won the Purple Heart and one medal after another, and devoted his entire life to America, that he’s launching a coup against the president of the United States,” Scarborough said, “that will, in the same way that other conspiratorial theories that I heard, black helicopters, when I was running in 1994, that will attach to somebody like Timothy McVeigh and they will take action, and yes, we will know who put those diseased thoughts in their heads.”
McVeigh, a right-wing extremist inspired by anti-government conspiracy theories, planted a bomb in 1995 at a federal building in Oklahoma City, and he remains an influential figure in the so-called alt-right movement that backs President Donald Trump.
“I cannot think of a more reckless, irresponsible thing I have ever heard in my life,” Scarborough said of Fox News “coup” chatter. “This even surpasses what Glenn Beck was saying.”
Scarborough said he privately complained to Fox News executives that Beck, who hosted a program for the network from 2009 to 2011, was scaring viewers with bogus stories about the Obama administration.
“I specifically said, Glenn Beck has crossed a line,” he said. “I won’t say the word I said, stuff on television every day that has my mother and other people in my family calling me up believing that the government is coming to kill them. I said, this leads to people getting killed.”
MSNBC analyst Steve Rattner, an economic adviser to President Barack Obama, said the current president had legitimized baseless conspiracy theories now hyped by Fox News.
“Even worse than when Glenn Beck was saying it, it’s being aided, abetted and encouraged by the president of the United States and his followers,” Rattner said. “Absolutely, we could see another Oklahoma City. I would argue we’ve already seen a version of it in Charlottesville, that things like Charlottesville come directly out of this rhetoric and incitement against the government and democracy and everything we stand for.”
Scarborough and MSNBC analyst Jon Heilemann said Fox News was absurdly and dangerously comparing special counsel Robert Mueller to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
“That network has these clowns on television who last week went on and repeatedly compared the FBI to the KGB,” Heilemann said. “They said we should shut down the FBI because it’s turning into an Obama-led KGB. Do these people have any idea what the KGB did in the Soviet Union for a hundred years? They were complicit in deaths of millions of people — tens of millions of people.”
“Trump says stuff like this all the time,” Heilemann added. “It’s up to us to be the sane ones in the room and not do that. Let the president say what he’s going to say because there’s no way to contain him, but the rest of the responsible adults out here should not be saying things like the FBI is the KGB.”