Mornings on MSNBC are a regular pro-torture fest. Day after day, Joe Scarborough and his pals, Pat Buchanan and Willie Geist, love to yuk it up about "splashing water" on the bad buys and scaring terrorists with cute little caterpillars. They seem to think the torture debate is completely silly, and little more than fodder for morning laughs.
This weeks revelations, though, seemed to get under Joe's skin. By Thursday morning he was fuming. Not fuming about torture. He was angry at the prospect that anyone would be held accountable for these crimes against humanity. He launched a vicious attack on former CIA-officer Robert Baer, after Baer's appearance on Wednesday's Hardball. And that wasn't all. Scarborough has now started slinging insults at other MSNBC hosts.
Here's Joe Scarborough, minutes into Thursday morning's show:
I don't usually watch some of the cable shows at night...because you get such bad information. You really do. People come on and they vomit out bad information and they get cheered. They might as well have a, like, applause track. So, a guy went on last night and we're gonna play the clip later. And he actually said a couple of things that were so outrageously wrong, and he a former CIA agent, but he makes money obviously trashing the CIA.
[All of these quotes were transcribed from my DVR. I've been unable to locate the video among the clips offered on the Morning Joe site. And MSNBC does not provide transcripts of the show.]
For the moment, let's skip over Scarborough's opinion of "some of the cable shows at night," and focus on his impugning of Robert Baer's integrity. That would be the same Robert Baer who Seymour Hersh said "was considered perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East," a man who spent decades observing interrogation tactics in countries around the world.
Here's the quote from Baer that set Joe off (video played back on Morning Joe):
You cannot rely on torture. And we did exactly that to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. And they went on about the second wave, all these other attacks, Padilla, other ones, that were only fantasies in their minds. And that‘s what it produced. It tied up the FBI for all these years now following these false leads. It got us nowhere.
And, yes, water-boarding is illegal internationally and in this country. We have prosecuted. It does go back to the Spanish Inquisition. It is torture.
When you water-board Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times, I can pretty well safely say the man is almost brain-dead. This is torture.
Why does Scarborough think that Baer's criticism of torture is so false and egregious? He offers two reasons. First, Joe thinks that the release of Cheney's personal detainee file documents will prove torture works, so Baer must be lying about that. And, second, that since Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was raving in court about all sorts of things, including Pat Buchanan's books, that he couldn't have suffered brain damage from waterboarding. Got that? Those are the reasons that Joe Scarborough accuses Robert Baer of lying for financial gain.
This kind of behavior is typical of Joe Scarborough. His mornings rants are usually centered around whatever daily talking point all of the GOP mouthpieces and stooges have settled on -- be it a lie about stimulus funding for protecting mice or claiming this week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed wasn't really waterboarded 183 times. Yes, Joe explained that "183" was merely the number of "drops" of water that "fell" on KSM. This lie was also being propagated by Cliff May and others. Check emptywheel's withering refutation.
How long will MSNBC allow this to continue? Their morning host celebrates torture and defends war criminals. Every day. Scarborough's colleagues deserve plaudits for tolerating Joe's FOX-like ravings thus far, but instead Scarborough mocks and insults them, warning his viewers not to trust the "bad information" those shows provide.
And barely-veiled attacks on other MSNBC hosts is becoming a pattern for Joe. Last week, he bitterly complained about "people on networks" making "childish sexual jokes" about the teabag protests.
Joe Scarborough has always been a typical right-wing liar. But lately he seems a bit unhinged, transforming into MSNBC's version of Glenn Beck. Here was the last thing I heard him say when I finally turned off the TV in disgust on Thursday:
Friends, it's all going to come out! That's why I'm smiling this morning. Because the hypocrites will be revealed and you will know the truth. It's going to be ugly when it does come out. Of course the op eds, that guy on the cable news show at night, they're ignorant of the facts obviously or they're lying deliberately and we'll find that out too. Truth is a wonderful thing. It will set you free.
Please, MSNBC, set Joe free.