WATCH: Chuck Todd Delivers Hard-Hitting Lesson on Red Scare Fearmongering After Tucker Carlson Accuses Him of ‘McCarthyite’ Tactics
NBC News anchor Chuck Todd delivered a blistering, historical takedown of one of the Republican Party’s favorite talking points, that Democrats and the press are stooping to “McCarthyism” to unfairly attack President Donald Trump.
Though Todd didn’t mention him by name on Thursday, the Meet the Press: Daily host seemed to be personally responding to a Tucker Carlson segment from Monday night, in which the Fox News host slammed Todd for noting Republican Senator John Kennedy was echoing Russian propaganda about the 2016 election.
“Tonight, I’m obsessed with a term I’ve been hearing a lot. One that’s been about without much intellectual honesty or care,” Todd said before running several clips of right-wing pundits and politicians invoking the infamous and ultimately disgraced Republican Senator Joe McCarthy to smear their ideological opponents.
“He led a systematic campaign in the early ‘50s accusing people of being Communist sympathizers,” Todd explained of McCarthy. “Dragging them in front of cameras that for unethical hearings that were merely political spectacles. Accusing them of treason without a shred of real evidence. Holding up lists without anything on them. McCarthy’s purported goal was to rule out communism in American society. What it accomplished instead, was creating a national climate of fear. Joe McCarthy may be dead his tactics are surely not like the attempts to silence the opposition by calling them unpatriotic.”
Todd then played a series of paired clips featuring archival footage of McCarthy spouting baseless accusations juxtaposed next to video of Trump and other Republican elected officials doing the same. The NBC News anchor followed that up with clips of McCarthy slamming the pre-eminent journalist of that era, Edward R. Murrow, and Trump blasting the media for “dishonesty” and “deception.” And in another, more subtle nod to the link between the Trump and McCarthy, several of the historical photos Todd showed featured shots of McCarthy’s consigliere, Roy Cohn, who would become Trump personal attorney and fixer many decades later.
“Some believe McCarthyism was about the Soviet Union and Communists, external threats. But it wasn’t,” Todd explained. “It was the damage this nation can inflict upon itself when we lose sight of our past and our principles, when we succumb to our basic instincts, when we favor fear over fact. McCarthyism wasn’t about Communism. It was power. It was about imposing fear. It wasn’t about them. It was about us.”
“And now, here we are again confronting the very same machinations designed to confuse, obscure, and antagonize,” Todd said, before invoking the famous line that ultimately brought McCarthy down. “It’s wrong and we all need to say so. After all, have we no sense of decency?”
Watch the video above, via MSNBC.
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