The MSNBC host accuses the New York Times columnist of encouraging left-wing extremism.
In the wake of this week’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have been arguing over responsibility, and even whether the alleged shooter, white supremicist James Von Brunn, should be considered a conservative or a liberal.
So far, Fox News’ Glenn Beck gets the honors for the most bizarre response to the murder. Then there’s MSNBC’s morning host Joe Scarborough, who suggested Friday that New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, is inciting “left-wing hate.”
Reacting to a column in which Krugman argued, “Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment,” Scarborough had this to say :
As somebody that has to sort through a lot of hate mail, a lot of hate email, a lot of viciousness. And I must say and I could print them out for people, Paul Krugman’s name is attached to a lot of those emails … They use Paul Krugman as their shield for their left-wing hate. This is because Paul Krugman, like a lot of extremists on the right, they only see their side. They have a closed-minded world view. And so Paul Krugman uses this tragedy, uses this death to try to knock down his opponents on the right … Getting people on both sides to exploit this death for their own purposes is disturbing.
Scarborough accused Krugman and former President Bill Clinton of playing partisan politics with high-profile murders like this. Of course, Scarborough was doing the very same thing.
It’s not the first time Scarborough has equated Krugman with hate. Last November, Scarborough called Krugman a “hateful, hateful man.” Krugman has appeared on Scarborough’s show before to criticize the talk show’s grasp of economic policy.
Comparing Krugman to Beck or Rush Limbaugh is illogical, obviously. And besides, the blame game both Scarborough and Krugman are engaging in doesn’t serve any purpose. It certainly doesn’t contribute to our understanding of why an individual such as Von Brunn thought the way he did, nor why other people who believe similar things don’t resort to violence.
Ultimately, the Republican Party may be more attractive to people with certain extremist views — on abortion and white supremacy, for instance — but that shouldn’t immediately lead to the conclusion that those who act violently in the name of those causes do so as a consequence of being Republicans, or because they watch Fox News.
Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon. More Vincent Rossmeier.
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