The hosts and analysts on MSNBC sunk to a new low on Friday, trashing the late Charlton Heston as somehow responsible for attempted ricin attacks on Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama. After Now anchor Alex Wagner read excerpts from letters allegedly written by the man responsible for the poisonous mailings, guest David Corn snarled, "When you were quoting the letters that were sent, I was thinking, it sounds like Charlton Heston wrote these." [MP3 audio here.]
Speaking of the National Rifle Association, Corn impugned, "It doesn't surprise me that some unhinged individuals out there start to take [NRA speeches] literally and believe that now is the time to rebel and to strike out with violent means."
Wagner joined in, lecturing, "The dark, threatening language of the letters is rooted in profound fear over the state of the nation's gun laws and recent attempts to reform them in the name of public safety."
She added, "Stoking fear and warning of impending gun seizures has been part of the NRA's playbook for years." Wagner can't have it both ways. On November 14, 2011, she flat out stated, "Get rid of the Second Amendment." She can't then turn and mock "fears" over gun control.
Considering that liberals often mock conservatives for suggesting a connection between violent movies and violence, it's hypocritical that Corn and Wagner would embrace blaming violence of an isolated individual on an entire political group.
A partial transcript of the May 31 segment is below:
ALEX WAGNER: Is poison by mail a new reality? This week, two letters were discovered containing the lethal poison, ricin. One was sent to New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the other to the director of his gun safety group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. A third, similar letter was addressed to President Obama and was intercepted at an offsite screening facility. Federal authorities are now questioning an Army veteran in Texas who may have information about the letters, all of which were mailed from Shreveport, Louisiana. Late yesterday, the White House confirmed that earlier this month, it had received another letter containing ricin which came from Spokane, Washington, the origin of several other ricin-laced letters that were mailed to a CIA building in D.C., as well as a judge, a military base and a post office in Spokane. Law enforcement does not believe the Spokane letters are connected to the Shreveport letters and warned that coverage of the plots may be spawning copy cats. The bigger question, of course, is why. The Louisiana letter sent to mayor Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the President appear to be politically motivated. The first two letters are confirmed to read in part "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone who wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right until the day I die." The dark, threatening language of the letters is rooted in profound fear over the state of the nation's gun laws and recent attempts to reform them in the name of public safety. Stoking fear and warning of impending gun seizures has been part of the NRA's playbook for years.
WAYNE LAPIERRE: We're in the midst of a once in a generation fight for everything that we care about. We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation or lose it forever. We must remain vigilant. We must remain ever resolute and steadfastly growing and preparing for even the more critical battles that loom before us.
WAGNER: At last year's NRA convention, Ted Nugent vowed to turn his outrage into violent action.
TED NUGENT: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail. We are patriots. We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.
WAGNER: And while the language has gotten progressively louder and more vitriolic, the sharpening of battle axes is nothing new.
CHARLTON HESTON (July 26, 2000): As we set out this year, to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words, for everyone within the sound of my voice, to hear and to heed and especially for you, Mr. Gore, from my cold, dead hands!
WAGNER: Joining the table now, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones and an MSNBC political analyst, David Corn. It's not often that you have Charlton Heston as a lead-in.
DAVID CORN: I feel quite honored. But, you know, when you were quoting the letters that were sent, I was thinking, it sounds like Charlton Heston wrote these.
WAGNER: Well, the language–
CORN: It's not by accident, as you noted. You know, the NRA playbook for years, for decades has not to have an honest policy disagreement about gun laws and gun reform, but to be extremely demagogic. And to say Baarack Obama is coming for your guns in black helicopters and he's going to give them to socialist Muslims who will then come for your children and wives and husbands. And it's been to such an excess that it doesn't surprise me that some unhinged individuals out there start to take it literally and believe that now is the time to rebel and to strike out with violent means.
WAGNER: You know, Josh, what was sort of shocking to me as you heard the letter, the language in the letters-- and in given the tenor of the debate and given the vitriol and rhetoric coming from some parts of the gun safety reform argument, it wasn't surprising. I mean, that that language is now part of the discussion.
-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.