The New York Times' engaged in "hyperbole" that does not serve its readers in its Sunday review piece asking if President-elect Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said Friday.
"There is so much policy-wise to worry about, instead of these stupid, false narratives that they set up," Scarborough said during a lengthy panel discussion about the Times' opinion piece. "This hyperbole, this vigilance does not serve readers."
Trump has nominated an EPA director, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who "denies climate change, when temperatures continue to skyrocket," Scarborough said. "You have a guy (Andy Puzder) that's going to be labor secretary, who is against the minimum wage, that put commercials out nationally that would embarrass me in front of my daughter. Put that on the front of the Sunday review. Put Gen. [Michael] Flynn's comments on the front."
In The Times piece, editors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt conclude that while democracy is not in "imminent danger of collapse," and most institutions will likely survive a Trump presidency, but that may change if there is a crisis, as "a president with authoritarian tendencies and institutions that have come unmoored could pose a serious threat to American democracy."
"I hear these, respected editors talking about people being dragged off to prison," Scarborough said. "It sets the bar so low. Why don't you just attack his EPA choice? I mean, the fact that we're a month after the election, and 'The New York Times' is seriously going to put the front of Sunday review that the future of democracy is threatened is just, again, laughable. And we said this when he went down the escalator, the more you underestimate him, the more you vilify him, the more you play into his hands."
Political commentator Mike Barnicle, though said he thinks that because Trump's name has been in the public eye for so many years, large numbers of people, including the "elite media" can't accept he's been elected president.
However, the media is now realizing it did not cover large parts of the presidential campaign correctly, he continued, and there's now "a little more than a little guilt in their coverage of Donald Trump."
"We could talk about WikiLeaks," Scarborough said. "We can talk about Hillary's e-mails. They never saw this coming, because they never looked outside of their bubble."
In the opinion piece, the editors wrote that the nation's "past stability is no guarantee of democracy's future survival," and Scarborough also took issue with that statement.
"Does anybody at "The New York Times" really believe that our constitutional republic's future survival is now at risk because a reality TV show guy got elected?" asked Scarborough.
Frequent show panelist Donny Deutsch commented that many people do believe Trump plays "outside the laws," but he does believe the government will survive, even though he thinks "there is a reckless player, the likes of which we have never seen."
He claimed he has had people ask him if he's concerned about retribution for his words against Trump, and he does not think that would be said for other presidents, including Barack Obama or George W. Bush.
"There's a guy sitting in that chair that seems to play in his own band versus the normal confines of that office," Deutsch said.
Barnicle said he'd not read the entire article, but he thinks that if the phrase was changed to ask if people were afraid for their national security, they would agree.
"There's always an overreach," Scarborough said. "He's always a fascist. He's always a Nazi. He's going to chain reporters up, he's going to throw them in jail, instead of saying that he's going to chill press freedoms and we're going to have to be vigilant about it."
Bloomberg Politics co-managing editor John Heilemann said he does have faith in America's constitutional republic, and believe it will survive.
"It's survived Richard Nixon, war, a lot of threats to it, but that does not mean there will not be potentially, and there are shaping up to be, pretty foundational kinds of arguments," Heilemann said. "I think Donald Trump is potentially going to press against the limits of what democratic norms have established and what the constitution says. We may have big fights very early over very foundational questions."
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