Accuracy in Media

MSNBC’s Morning Joe did not stop Steve Schmidt from trying to exploit the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to attack President Trump, even though Schmidt, a former presidential campaign manager for McCain’s 2008 presidential run, was reportedly not invited to his funeral.

Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist also didn’t mention that swipes against Trump by former Presidents Bush and Obama were hypocritical, as their own camps also engaged in vicious political combat against McCain.

Schmidt was not invited to the funeral, according to Politico.

“In the wake of the 2008 campaign, Schmidt and [MSNBC’s Nicolle] Wallace were publicly critical of McCain’s decision to tap Palin, though Schmidt played a role in it himself … McCain viewed their lack of discretion as a betrayal, and it led to a six-year estrangement with Schmidt.”

Yet that didn’t stop Schmidt on MSNBC from describing the funeral as if he were there, and claiming “I like to think of a John McCain liberated from his pain and from his wounds, looking down on us, in a judgment of who will be fidelitous to the American republic. Who will fight for American values? Who will join the fight? That is a critical question.

“We have seen Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, they will be remembered through the ages as cowards, spineless, supine weaklings at this moment of danger to every norm of decency in this country that is presented by Donald Trump. And that is a fundamental political question for our era, because I believe we’re living through a season of cowardice in this country, and we have the worst generation of political leadership in the history of the United States of America.”

Rather than question Schmidt’s hyperbole and mention the pain that Schmidt himself may have caused McCain, MSNBC’s Geist instead cited anti-Trump attacks by Bush and Obama even as surrogates and supporters of both former presidents engaged in intensely ad hominem attacks against McCain in years prior. Glenn Harlan Reynolds explains their hypocrisy in an op-ed in USA Today.

Yet MSNBC’s Morning Joe offered none of this historical context.

“Sen. McCain delivered that message through his daughter, Meghan, through the speeches made by Presidents Bush and Obama,” Geist said. “Why is it so hard to be John McCain? Why is it so hard to speak truth to power? It wasn’t hard for John McCain. There was no cost to John McCain.”

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