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Indefensible: Trump Accuses MSNBC Host of Murder

President Trump’s feud with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough is back in the news. Scarborough is a former Republican Congressman from Florida who served in the late 90s before stepping down in 2001. Trump’s relationship with Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Scarborough’s co-host on his MSNBC show Morning Joe and his wife since 2018, has been in the public eye since Trump announced his candidacy for president. Back in February of 2016, CNN reported that Trump’s “friendship [with Scarborough is an] increasing source of discomfort at NBC.” Later in the month, a hot mic caught the Morning Joe hosts consulting with Trump about what questions to ask him, which brought on a storm of controversy. Since then, the relationship has turned rocky and the hosts have become quite critical of the president. There have been many feuds between them over the past several years.

President Trump has recently been tweeting a conspiracy theory that Joe Scarborough murdered former staffer Lori Klausutis back in 2001. Klausutis was the Constituent’s Services Coordinator for Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office. Two months after Scarborough announced that he would resign from Congress, she was found dead in the Florida office. The medical examiner concluded that she had a fainting spell due to a heart condition and hit her head on a desk. At the time, Scarborough was away in Washington DC. However, that fact did not stop President Trump from claiming it is “obvious” that Scarborough was involved.

President Trump has tweeted these unsubstantiated claims as early as 2017. However, this all came to a head in recent news when the widower of the deceased staffer, Timothy Klausutis, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking him to remove Trump’s tweets about his wife’s death. After the letter, Trump has continued to tweet more about the incident. Trump went so far as to say that during the entire length of his friendship during the 2016 campaign, he “would always be thinking about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing.” It is public record that the president hasn’t always associated with the most honest and virtuous people (think Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, etc.); however, the thought that he would befriend someone he believed to be a murderer, invite him to his private residence, and offer to officiate his wedding, should startle his supporters. Unfortunately, the reality is only slightly less startling: none of this is true. It’s all just a lie to distract from the substance of what the Morning Joe hosts are criticizing him for on their show. Trump is unwilling to confront them on the facts, so he resorts to personal attacks.

Some on the right, such as Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) have condemned the tweets:

However, not all Republicans were willing to criticize them. Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire and host of The Michael Knowles Show, told listeners that he thinks Trump has good strategy.

…What Trump is doing here, even though he’s talking about a very serious issue, he’s actually engaging in a little bit of levity in politics. Because the left is saying with a straight face, “he’s a Manchurian candidate from Moscow!” “Brett Kavanaugh is a rapist!” They’re saying this very seriously. And what Donald Trump does is he goes, “Oh yeah! Hey, do you think Joe Scarborough is a murderer? I don’t know. I’m not saying anything, it’s just a little weird. Do you think he’s a murderer?” … I think that levity is ok in a time when people are way too self-serious in politics and where one side gets to level outrageous accusations, but the minute the other side does anything remotely resembling that, it’s a national disgrace.

Knowles echoes the remarks from the president’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany during her press briefing. She stated, “They’ve made false accusations that I won’t go through, that I would not say from this podium, against the president of the United States. They should be held accountable for their falsehoods.” Does wrongly accusing the other side of murder hold them accountable for wrongly accusing you of other things? It must in McEnany’s world. Two wrongs must make a right. Many Trump supporters talk about wanting a fighter—“When they hit him, he hits back ten times harder”—however, there must be a limit to how we fight. Knowles concludes his remarks on the matter by saying that those criticizing the president for his tweets are not being “virtuous.” He said that the right cannot limit its fighting tactics. “I don’t think there’s anything virtuous about the left being able to use a whole host of tactics, and the right having to tie their hands behind their backs.” Is it really virtuous to stoop to the tactics of the other side? After criticizing them for years for their disinformation, is false information now virtuous as a tool for fighting back? If we devolve into this kind of relativism—if lying becomes ok—where does it end?

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