MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell lost both a viewer and a guest in one broadcast by talking over, and belittling, the senior editor of the left-wing New Republic magazine.
As Mediate reports, During his August 8 broadcast of The Last Word, host Lawrence O’Donnell invited New Republic’s senior editor, Julia Ioffe, to talk about NSA leaker Edward Snowden and President Obama’s current imbroglio with Russia. But instead of treating her like the “expert” he invited her on to be, he treated her like a hostile guest.
Ioffe, though a liberal, is a good guest to talk Russia. In previous jobs, Ioffe was a Moscow-based correspondent for Foreign Policy and The New Yorker, so she has quite a bit of experience on the country. She also speaks Russian fluently.
O’Donnell wasn’t having any of her “expertise,” however. In fact he called her contribution “absurd” and frequently over talked her attempts to answer cutting her off at least three separate times.
To start with, O’Donnell turned to Ioffe with the premise that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin somehow engineered Edward Snowden’s entrance into his country. Then O’Donnell claimed that Putin also was in 100 percent control of everything Snowden did not to mention everything the Russian news agencies have said of the matter.
“Julia, to start [the White House statement canceling the summit] with the Snowden factor, for the Russian statement to say, ‘this is a situation which we did not create,’ is of course a lie. They were in complete control of the outcome of what would happen to Snowden from the second he arrived at that airport. But administration, are you surprised that the administration included it in their official statement about the decision,” O’Donnelll insisted.
Ioffe thought this premise was rather fantastic and said so. She thought that O’Donnell was overestimating Russia’s role. It was apparently a big mistake on her part.
As she tried to explain that Putin is extremely powerful, but is not so “omnipotent” that he had engineered Snowden’s entrance into Russia, nor that he controls to the letter every word that either his government or his news media have said on the matter, O’Donnell began to interrupt her, talk down to her, and call her “absurd.”
This sexist reaction–she said he “mansplained” Russia to her–sent Ioffe to her own space on the New Republic website where she slammed O’Donnell for his “bulls**t” question and the sexist way he talked down to her as if she were a silly little girl that didn’t really know what she was talking about.
In an twelve-point response, Ioffe went on to point out that while Putin is powerful and canny enough to guide things to his advantage, he isn’t omnipotent to the point where he puppet-masters everything last thing that goes on in Russia. She also pointed out that Obama has made a hash of some of this business.
Ioffe then said that O’Donnell’s simple-minded assumption was exactly what the Russians do to the US by assuming that our president controls every last thing that goes on in our own country.
Her parting shot was a cut to O’Donnell’s quick.
Sound ridiculous? Believe me, it sounds just as insane in reverse. The problem is that this was not in the ranting comments section, but was coming from the host of a prime time, national television show. And if you don’t have the good sense and education or, hell, the reporting experience to know better, then just let the guests you invited on speak.
Otherwise, don’t waste my f**king evening.