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Democrat Sen. Mark Warner Says ‘Shame on Americans’, NBC’s Chuck Todd Doesn’t Even Blink

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said a remarkable set of words on MSNBC on Thursday, although you wouldn’t know it by anchor Chuck Todd‘s reaction.

The two were talking Trump, of course, and Todd was essentially saying to Warner that it’s obvious Republicans can’t respect the rule of law or “norms” of government, so when will Democrats realize they can’t hope for decency from the bad guys. Warner, in turn, felt it was important to indict the American people in addition to the GOP.

The specific context of the exchange was the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, which Warner attempted to have passed by unanimous consent on Thursday, an effort blocked by Senate Republicans. Todd asked Warner to explain on what grounds Republicans would even object to such a bill, and Warner replied that the amount of fear among the GOP over angering Trump is “pretty wild.”

Warner said that he has to carry on in spite of that fear, and Todd suggested by way of a question that Warner simply isn’t trying hard enough.

“At what point should you be shutting down the Senate and basically not letting them do anything until they at least take up this bill?” Todd asked. “I mean, at some point, do you have to — you keep hoping that everybody will play by a set of rules, that I don’t believe there’s a rule book that anybody on the other side is following anymore.”

It was in his answer to that query that Warner said the remarkable set of words.

“Well I think this last incident, and again, time will probably prove me wrong again. But there was beginning of folks stepping up — and frankly, at the end of the day, it’s also up to the American public,” said Warner. “If the American public, no matter whether they watch Fox or MSNBC or anything in between, isn’t outraged by the comments that he made yesterday, then shame on Americans as well. Shame on all of us.”

The phrase was “then shame on Americans as well.” You may be shouting the word “context” right now, but the context here was that he said time will probably prove him wrong again – meaning prove him wrong that people will act as they should — and that it is “up to” the public to do so, and that “no matter” whether they watch Fox or MSNBC — meaning he holds everyone to the statement he’s making regardless of their party or ideology — if the people don’t express the necessary amount of outrage or anger then “shame” on them. “Shame on Americans.”

That sentence, that phrase, said by any politician — whether they watch Fox or MSNBC — would in years past have absolutely prompted some notice or reaction from a journalist. A reporter might say “shame on Americans?” or “shame on Americans is a pretty strong phrase!” or “what? Can you repeat that please?”

Chuck Todd, however, was utterly unfazed. He didn’t bat an eye. In fact he accepted and built on the premise, wondering whether this shamefulness was due to what amounts to brainwashing.

“Do you think he’s conditioned — do you think the problem is that because he so trivializes the idea of foreign interference, he’s mocked it, he’s made it sort of a gag, a joke of sorts, so as you said, the Republicans come up to you and say he’s just Trump being Trump, he’s just crazy Trump, do you think that’s actually conditioned us to just shrug our shoulders now?” Todd asked. It’s not clear why he would say “us” when he is obviously framing the characterization to encompass everyone who is not, as he is, asking these questions. “Everybody says they all cheat so let the best cheater win?”

Warner’s reply was an alarming thought that the idea of cheating, or accepting foreign dirt on domestic opponents, could become so normalized that it goes bipartisan.

“I worry about that,” he said. “Because I worry if you make this the new normal and we elect a Democrat and a Democrat would then say okay, well it worked for Trump. I’m going to try these tactics. Obviously, it concerns me.”

Warner ends the clip above appealing to Republicans to take the issue of election interference, and Trump’s comments about it, far more seriously.

“Let’s try to make the case and let’s hope, again, that the American public, who I think–if you’re a traditional Republican, if you’re a supporter of Ronald Reagan, whose career was about fighting Russia and communism, Ronald Reagan, who must be spinning in his grave after the comments of Donald Trump yesterday, I’d ask my Ronald Reagan Republicans, speak up, step out,” he said.

Remarkable. Context matters, but words matter too, and it is beyond doubt that in years past a politician could not have uttered the words “shame on Americans” and have it go completely unremarked by the press.

Watch the clip above, via MSNBC.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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