Oliver Stone and Jeremy Scahill Rail Against Obama and His MSNBC Defenders

Oliver Stone and Jeremy Scahill Rail Against Obama and His MSNBC Defenders (FULL VIDEO)

Journalist Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Oliver Stone believe that, on issues of civil liberties and warfare, President Obama has entirely abandoned his 2008 rhetoric. And they see MSNBC and stars like Bill Maher as the biggest cheerleaders for such abrogations.

The two well-known men of the left appeared Saturday at the 2014 Students For Liberty Conference (ISFLC), on a panel entitled “Imperial Overreach and the National Security State,” sponsored by the libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation. They were joined by Stone’s co-author Peter Kuznick, with Newseum vice chairman Shelby Coffey moderating.

While lamenting the “expanding warfare state” in America, both Scahill and Stone took shots at major news outlets for failing to cast a critical eye toward President Obama’s “overreach” on issues like targeted assassinations, covert operations, and military interventions.

“MSNBC is like watching one big Obama for America meet-up,” Scahill said. “And when you watch Fox News, it’s full of conspiracy theory about this scary black Marxist Manchurian candidate.”

Stone chimed in that while President Obama rallied the progressive base in 2008 with tough “anti-war” talk, he has simply continued and expanded upon the policies of his predecessors. “The man stunned us with a lack of spine,” the filmmaker said. “He’s a weak man.”

While discussing his Oscar-nominated documentary Dirty Wars, Scahill singled out MSNBC as one of the strongest defenders of Obama’s policies, including the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki‘s 16-year-old son.

“If you watch MSNBC,” he said, “they have figured out every possible excuse for why al-Awlaki was killed.” Scahill added that perhaps it’s because “Obama has convinced liberals he is fighting a clean war,” or simply that “Democrats have checked their conscience at the door of the Obama presidency.”

Scahill garnered cheers while discussing his new media venture with Glenn Greenwald, proclaiming that, “As journalists, we should have an adversarial stance towards the state.” He drew the biggest applause of the event upon declaring that “When it comes to national security policy, we only have one party: The war party.”

ISFLC is an annual gathering of several thousand libertarian students from around the world. Scahill bemoaned how many of his liberal Twitter followers attacked him for appearing at the event, and thanked the crowd for such a warm reception.

The only moment of tension between the panelists and their libertarian audience occurred when a South American student confronted Stone about his disdain for American overreach while also supporting abusive leftist regimes like that of the late Hugo Chávez. Stone responded that he believes the American press does not give the Venezuelan administration a fair shake; and that he’s fine with political opposition so long as it’s done legally. The South of the Border director reiterated his belief that the U.S. government illegally and covertly subverts Latin American leaders.

Despite the fundamental disagreement over Chavez’s legacy, Stone stuck around following the speech to sign books and talk with the students. At one point, he was spotted at the Cato Institute’s exhibition booth, picking up a pocket-sized Constitution and a drug policy paper.

[Disclosure: I am a board member of the Alumni For Liberty, a network of college graduates who offer financial support to SFL activities.]
[Editor’s note: A few quotes have been updated to match what was said below in the video.]

UPDATE: Watch the full panel video below, via Ford Fischer:

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