At the top of the 4:00PM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, fill-in co-anchor Monica Novotny issued a dire warning about protests at health care town hall meetings: "The town hall confrontations are turning violent....Where is all of this heading? New fears for the safety of America's first African-American president." [Audio/video (0:33): Mp3  | WMV ]
In a later segment, co-anchor David Shuster interviewed Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran and asked: "We know that threats to President Obama are up by like something 400% compared to the Bush administration. Is this putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, 'oh, yes, it's fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let's do this with our president.'"
Congressman Moran responded to that outrageous scenario by remarking: "Well, you know, it only took - takes one person. It took one person to shoot Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy, and so on. But I think the Secret Service can be trusted to protect the President. But it does discredit those people who are using such extreme measures to achieve an objective which is really corporate profit."
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
MONICA NOVOTNY: Plus, the town hall confrontations are turning violent. Disruptions have been encouraged by GOP operatives, and Rush Limbaugh is adding to the extremism.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Obama's got a health care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's play book.
NOVOTNY: Where is all of this heading? New fears for the safety of America's first African-American president.
DAVID SHUSTER: The anger, despite the good economic news of course, there's still all that anger over health care. And the anger and fury at town hall meetings around the country is reaching a fever pitch, just as Congress heads home for their summer recess.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD [TAMPA, FLORIDA TOWN HALL: You work for us! You work for us! You work for us!
SHUSTER: That was Tampa, Florida last night and a crowd attempting to get into a packed meeting which turned into a shoving match with some people being forced out. And watch what happened in Missouri.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI TOWN HALL]: You attacked him! You're going to jail!
SHUSTER: That became a street fight. It broke out near St. Louis, following yet another contentious town hall held by Congressman Russ Carnahan. Joining us live from studio here in Washington is Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, who told the newspaper, The Hill, he's looking forward to his upcoming town hall meetings. Congressman Moran, if you get a bunch of people who try to shout you down and don't want to let you explain what you're doing, what are you going to do?
JIM MORAN: I think we can deal with it. Frankly, David, I would pit my liberals against their conservatives any day, but - but also we have some benefit. The fact that we - all we have to do is stick to the facts. I think the majority of the American people agree with what we're trying to do. I think our motivation is stronger, we're really motivated out of compassion for the people who are uninsured and fiscal responsibility, and I think that trumps greed and partisanship, which seems to be what's driving these disruptions.
SHUSTER: But if somebody interrupts you and somebody won't let you explain and they keep shouting and screaming, how do you react?
MORAN: Well, I've been in politics for 30 years and I think we can control the microphones. I want to let - I want to hear them out and let them speak, even if they're shouting at us, but they can't control the town hall meeting. You know, the purpose of these is to get the facts out, to hear other people's point of view, but it really ought to be a reflective point of view and talk about what we can do to make the bill better rather than simply trying to shout my colleagues down, who are simply trying to explain what it is we're trying to do, why we're trying to do it, and listen for suggestions on how we can do it better. This is a great opportunity to make a better bill and one that's more representative of what the people want, but it unfortunately is being used as an opportunity to kill any progress on health reform.
SHUSTER: What do you make of the groups, the Republican operatives, who are helping to sort of fuel this stuff and, secondly, you start to see the swastikas and the Nazi comparisons. We know that threats to President Obama are up by like something 400% compared to the Bush administration. Is this putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, 'oh, yes, it's fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let's do this with our president.'
MORAN: Well, you know, it only took - takes one person. It took one person to shoot Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy, and so on. But I think the Secret Service can be trusted to protect the President. But it does discredit those people who are using such extreme measures to achieve an objective which is really corporate profit. Many of them, not all of them, but many are being driven by these industries that are making billions of dollars off the current system so they can afford to pay several million to the lobbyists who then organize this allegedly grassroots effort, much of it really is being organized out of Washington. So - and I think that the people who belong in those town hall meetings, who live in those neighborhoods, are going to understand that right away. I think this whole effort is going to backfire. By the end of the month I think you'll see a real turnaround in public opinion. And part of it is because they're discrediting themselves. Every time they quote Rush Limbaugh, they really discredit themselves. He has a niche, an audience that loves to - to listen to that kind of, you know - well, let me not characterize what - Rush Limbaugh, but - but it's becoming a more and more limited audience. And I think the vast majority of the American people want something done. They know we're trying to do the right thing, and they certainly don't want this country to be guided by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and that kind of nonsensical rhetoric.
NOVOTNY: Congressman, you mentioned your decades of experience in Washington. It seems to be your sense, by what I'm hearing, that you do not believe, then, that this is a grassroots effort, that you believe this is being orchestrated. Who do you think's behind it all?
MORAN: I think that the industries that have benefitted from the status quo, some of the insurance companies, certainly some of the very conservative groups who - who don't want change. They - they're opposed to government involvement. Now - and it's easy for the American people to pick up on that. To suggest - in fact, I've had people say to me, 'keep the government off my Medicare.' Well, of course, Medicare is run by the government, as is Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. I can't imagine any veteran who wouldn't want the health care system they have, and yet some of them are afraid of what we're trying to do. We're trying to make health care affordable for everybody, and President Obama has insisted that we use the private sector, that we not nationalize health insurance. He doesn't believe in socialism. He believes in perfecting the system that we have and Speaker Pelosi has insisted we stick to the facts. Don't embellish them. Just make it clear to the American people what we're doing and why.
SHUSTER: Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia. Congressman, thanks so much. When you have those town halls we will be there with cameras.
MORAN: I'd love to have you there.
SHUSTER: We'll be eager to see what your reaction and the reaction of your staff is going to be if someone tries to mess with you.
MORAN: I think it might be fun.
SHUSTER: Thanks for coming on today. We appreciate it.
MORAN: Thanks, David.
SHUSTER: Yeah Monica, I don't think anybody wants to mess with this guy.
NOVOTNY: No, no, definitely not. Definitely not, David.
-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.