Conservative columnist P.J. O'Rourke walked into a smackdown hurricane Wednesday on MSNBC, when he tried to claim the news media was more important than federal regulators to the United States' economic health. He also claimed poor people would be "ripping off" the wealthy if they had the chance.
O'Rourke predicted Americans would trade "one bag of snakes for the other" in the midterm elections. "Trump's populism is not affecting people's bottom line for most people," he said. "I think they are going to trade it for Marxist nonsense from the radical left of the Democratic party."
O'Rourke added that "there's no way to avoid disaster, no matter who we elected," claiming it would be student loans and other debt that leads to the next crash. He also insisted the government had "fixed the banking system" in the years following the Great Recession.
That was too much for host Stephanie Ruhle, who replied "we didn't fix the banking system," and compared student loan debt to the subprime mortgage crisis that brought down the economy in 2007. "You may not like how [banking regulations] were implemented," Ruhle said, "but the spirit of regulation was to protect people. Now we're having a deregulation jamboree every day."
As his fellow guest Eddie Glaude literally sat there shaking his head and laughing, O'Rourke continued his line of argument, saying "we probably do more, right here in the news media, when we are behaving ourselves, for the good of the economy than any amount of federal regulation." He also denigrated the work of federal banking regulators as "some guys out of law school."
Glaude pounced, saying the economic crisis was driven by greed and all but calling the conservative columnist a liar.
"I don't think you actually believe that people self-regulating, being honest and true and decent will be a sufficient response to the fact that you have rich people who have been fleecing the country, and very day, ordinary people working their behinds off and seeing modest upticks in wages and can't make ends meet." Glaude said, rebutting O'Rourke. "We need to actually have a different set of values, or we are going to wind up here again."
That's when financial journalist Felix Salmon took his cue, joking that "the Marxists need to come in right now and redistribute some of the wealth from the rich to everyone else."
"Don't forget, while the rich are ripping off the poor, if the shoe were on the other foot as it would be under Marxism, the poor would be out there ripping off... mainly each other," a cornered O'Rourke argued weakly, effectively conceding that the wealthy make up a tiny sliver of the population.
Watch the video below.