MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough created quite a stir on Monday when he said that former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and others should stand up to some elements of the conservative movement by punching them in the face.
Later that day, in a lengthy interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Scarborough elaborated on those remarks. He said his aim was to encourage conservatives to push back against obstacles that could hurt them electorally.
“[M]ore generally I’m talking about people that make it harder for conservatives to win elections,” Scarborough said. “I’m talking about people that sometimes say things that will shock the audience, that will drive the ratings up, that will maybe paint conservatism in a harsher viewpoint and again will make them a lot of money, will get them a lot of listeners, will help them in the demo, but will actually hurt us in the type of places we have to win every four years to put people in the White House.”
Scarborough recalled when radio talker and former Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck and his 2009 remarks calling President Barack Obama a racist.
The “Morning Joe” host said that Romney should have repudiated those remarks that came nearly two years prior to announcing his candidacy for the White House.
“I immediately went on the air and I said, ‘Mitt Romney, if you want to be the leader of my party, if you want to be the leader of the conservative movement, you need to step out, you need to criticize him for saying that, and you need to ask him to rescind it because that sends the wrong message to America.’”
As for a possible double standard, where Scarborough is willing to call his own side out, but less willing to call out his left-of-center MSNBC colleagues for similar rhetoric, Scarborough admitted he does not watch his own network beyond his own program.
“All I will say on that point is, I a long time ago made a deal with Phil Griffin — he was the president of MSNBC — and that was that I would watch MSNBC from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the morning and that was it,” Scarborough said. “It makes my life a lot easier. It makes everybody else’s life at MSNBC a lot easier. And it’s a formula that works well.”
The “Morning Joe” host said he is not criticizing talk radio blindly, explaining he listens to Rush Limbaugh, Hewitt, Bill Bennett and Michael Medved when possible. But the one he said he most identifies with was the same talker of which he was critical — Glenn Beck.
“[B]ut I will tell you, ironically enough, ideologically — even though he drives me crazy, I criticize him all the time because of the crazy nutty things he says, I think ideologically and please don’t tell anybody, I may be closest to Glenn Beck,” Scarborough said. “I’ve got a libertarian bent. I’m a 10th Amendment guy.”