Most of the time when a guest appears on a news show he’s there because he’s trying to sell a book. That was certainly the case when Ted Rall appeared on Dylan Ratigan’s show on MSNBC yesterday. What’s different about this appearance is the nature of what Rall is selling. Here’s an excerpt from chapter one of his book, titled The Anti-American Manifesto:
We are here because the U.S. is going to end soon. There’s going to be an intense, violent, probably haphazard struggle for control. It’s going to come down to us versus them. The question is: What are you going to do about it?
Ted Rall is very clear what he wants to do about it. He wants to take up arms and, sooner rather than later, get on with killing people:
A war is coming. At stake: our lives, the planet, freedom, living. The government, the corporations, and the extreme right are prepared to coalesce into an Axis of Evil. Are you going to fight back? Will you do whatever it takes, including taking up arms?
There’s no doubt whatsoever that Dylan Ratigan understood the message of the book when he had Rall appear on his show. But far from disagreeing with it, he seems to come close to endorsing it. He opens the segment by agreeing with Rall that it’s time for a revolution. The only question is just how violent it will have to get:
Notice when Rall advocates violence, Ratigan suggests a more moderate approach of “stop paying your mortgage.” Uh, isn’t the mortgage crisis what led us to the current economic mess? Why would Dylan Ratigan think we need more of that at this moment unless he wants to see the entire system collapse? Is that in fact what he wants to see?
Later in the interview, Ted Rall quotes John Locke about the need for revolution. Ratigan’s response is to suggest a “semi-violent” revolt like the anti-austerity strikes in France. This is the voice of moderation on MSNBC? How about just saying that Ted Rall is a kook whose recommendation that progressives look to al Qaeda for inspiration deserves no place in American politics? Dylan Ratigan never gets close to that sort of response to Rall.
There’s also the question of hypocrisy. MSNBC hosts made a lot of hay over Sharon Angle’s reference to “2nd amendment remedies” during her campaign to unseat Harry Reid. At the time, MSNBC guests called her a “mental patient.” Chris Matthews said it showed her to be outside the bounds of acceptable discourse and Joe Scarborough called her a “jackass.”
Rachel Maddow went even further, demoting a six minute segment of her show to the comments. She closed by asking:
Is this considered a mainstream position now? Everybody down with this idea? NRSC, RNC you guys okay with this?
That was just two months ago. Now that one of her co-hosts is helping to promote a book that advocates taking up arms against Christians and Tea Party members, I guess we can ask the same question: Is violent revolution on the table at MSNBC? Everybody there down with this? Scarborough, Matthews, Maddow–you guys okay with this?
Well are you?