During the third hour of his MSNBC program on Tuesday, “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough called out conservative talker Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News Channel, which he argued were tied to the Republican Party’s electoral woes over the last 20 years.
His argument: Certain media outlets turn away coveted swing voters, noting that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five out of the last six presidential elections since these media outlets have come on the scene.
“You know, Chris Matthews, I’m saying this more and more every day because Republicans who think that they’re doing their party a favor by being engaged in the Democratic version of Bush derangement syndrome, a couple of facts,” Scarborough said. “Since we’ve had this culture, this 24/7 media news culture — talk radio and everything else that has gone with it — the presidents that have been undermined from day one — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama — they all got re-elected. You would have to go back a long time to find three presidents … and this is exhibit one that the haters only end up turning off swing voters who say, ‘You know what? I may not love the president, but he’s not everything the opponent …’”
“Let me say one other thing, too,” he continued. “And you know, I hate to give facts … that offend a lot of people, but think about this, and I’m not blaming it on him, but just for conservatives that think they have to stay in their own little media world, since Rush Limbaugh went on the air and became a national figure, Republicans have lost five out of the last six presidential elections in the popular vote. Since Fox News went on the air in 1996, Republicans have lost four out of five.”
Scarborough pointed to former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon’s electoral successes, noting that they were able to dominate prior to the rise of the conservative media.
“So when Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon had to go up against a media culture that absolutely hated them, that despised them, that mocked them, that ran them into the ground every night and there was no conservative outlet, they won 49 states. Now, listen, I’m a conservative. I like conservative outlets to go to when I get frustrated looking at the mainstream media. But for people that think, Chris, they have to stay in this little box, I’ve got bad news for you. It’s not working.”
MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews added that despite Limbaugh’s talent as a radio host, he is not speaking to a big enough audience to make a difference electorally, and thus is not the best choice to be the “guiding light” for the party.
“Rush Limbaugh is a great example, guys, because he’s enormously successful,” Matthews said. “He makes a lot of money and he deserves it because he’s a great showman. But he basically plays to a very narrow cast of Republicans, usually men — middle-aged white men. I’m not knocking anything about it, but that’s what he is doing. But that’s never going to be 51 percent of the country. He basically knows who his market is — guys driving around, basically traveling salesmen who have a lot of time in the car and they need company. He’s their support group. And he tells them they’re the greatest guys in the world because they’re carrying the load in this country and those damn feminazis out there and all those affirmative action types are all living off these guys. He plays to them. He panders to them, and it’s brilliant. But it’s not 51 percent of the country and that’s why it disserves the Republican Party to listen to this guy for their guiding light.”
Scarborough went on to use his favorite examples of swing districts in the country where the GOP is failing to win electorally and predicted that he would be attacked by websites for his analysis.
“That’s why I talk about the I-4 corridor,” Scarborough added. “That’s why I talk about the suburbs of Philadelphia. Yes, these people help energize the Republican base, and you need that. But it’s not enough to get you the 51 percent plus one that you need to win presidential elections. And at some point the Republican Party needs to start focusing on winning presidential elections. Now I guarantee you, because I know how this works — I’ve just stated some facts on the air here … and there’s certain websites that are going to go crazy, and they’re going to attack me.”
“But, here’s the point,” he continued. “They’re going to do everything, they’re going to do everything but reflect on the fact that since this media culture has been created that was supposed to give us a great balance to the liberal news media, we’ve lost five out of six elections in the popular vote. Republicans need to start focusing on winning. And I don’t begrudge anyone that goes out and makes $30 million a year. I would love to make $30 million a year. I would, but I want to start winning. I want as a Republican to start winning elections again, and we need to start focusing on things.”
NBC White House correspondent and MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” host weighed in and said that Fox News head Roger Ailes’ decision to hire former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain would only encourage certain behavior within the ranks of the Republican Party. But Scarborough defended Ailes, explaining he had sought out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a candidate for the last presidential election.
TODD: We need to discuss two words, Herman Cain — and Roger Ailes. It’s like stunning — because Roger Ailes, is that good for the country?
SCARBOROUGH: Roger Ailes figured it out, and by the way, he figured it out before everybody else figured it out, and that’s why he was going to Chris Christie, trying to ask him to run for president, because Roger Ailes always figured it out. He figured out that some people had jumped the shark after the Gabby Giffords shooting. He said so.
TODD: But, if he rewards people, like Herman Cain’s got a bigger [platform], is that going to encourage, what kind of presidential primary is that going to encourage?
SCARBOROUGH: It’s a cottage industry to make lots of money.