MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ were discussing the atrocities ongoing in Aleppo, and invited guests on to the programme to contribute. One of these contributors was Congressman Dana Rohrabacher(R-CA), who turned out to be a handful for the presenters.
The interview began with a feisty exchange between host Joe Scarborough and Rohrabacher, after the Congressman felt the host’s initial question on the slaughter of innocent civilians by Syrian and Russian forces was “based on false premises”. In post-truth America, it’s refreshing to see hosts push back when politicians clearly lie, and Scarborough immediately retorted “No, it’s not. I don’t want you to lie on my television show.” As seems to be the status-quo when called out on lies, the politician proceeded to launch a tirade against the channel for not “letting a person answer the way they want to”, or in other words not letting him spin the story to his own political agenda. The pair then argued back and forth for around a minute, with the guest threatening to leave the show and Scarborough set to allow him to leave. Co-host Mika Brzezinski stepped in and tried to quieten the pair, saying “Okay, you have ten seconds.”
“The bottom line is,” Rohrabacher began, “we are at war with radical Islam. You’re talking about a no-fly zone where we shoot down Russian planes?” The hosts quickly stepped in and yet again called him out on his deflection, as there was no mention of a no-fly zone in the question. “We allied with Stalin to defeat Hitler. Today, the biggest threat is radical Islam. If we keep trying to focus on all of the faults of Russia, so that we can’t work with them to defeat this common enemy, you’re not doing any service to the people of the US or the cause of peace.”
Note that Rohrabacher yet again did not answer the question, dodging what would be an uncomfortable response in order to hit home his narrative of “radical Islam” and working with Russia to destroy ISIS. The problem is, the Russians aren’t necessarily working with the US to defeat ISIS. There is much evidence to suggest that they are working with the Syrian government to kill rebel forces who are also fighting ISIS in the region. Whilst everyone agrees that ISIS are a serious problem to be dealt with, there is still a catastrophic slaughter occurring on-and-off in Aleppo particularly.
Rupert Colville, a UN human rights spokesman reported that 82 civilians had been killed by “pro-government forces”, meaning Syrian and Russian soldiers are almost certainly the forces who are shooting innocent civilians on-sight, reportedly some occurring during a cease-fire. The UN’s Human Rights Chief said that the events in Aleppo were “probably a war crime”.
Rohrabacher said soon after that “There’s a lot of questions of who those people are, on the ground, that are now claiming to be moderate Muslims, and we’ve ended up financing radical Islamicists.” “They’re women and children,” Scarborough interjected, trying to not let the Congressman confuse viewers as to who are currently being targeted by Russian forces. There was a telling moment when Brzezinski looked visibly shocked, saying “I think he’s… lost his mind.”
Things quickly spiralled as substance was lacking, and Rohrabacher droned on talking over every other panellist who tried to ask a question, whilst using the buzzwords “radical Islamists” as often as he could manage. His microphone was soon muted after hosts grew tired of the headache-inducing interruptions, until questions were asked that he attempted to answer. “Jesus,” one of the panellists whispered as he dodged several questions talking about fighting a greater “enemy to the American people”.
Towards the end, former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul added “Assad is not fighting ISIS. Russia is not fighting ISIS. Instead of fighting ISIS they decided it was best to fight people we were supporting. They’re not a member of Operation Resolve, they have other interests.” The final point made was powerful, McFaul saying “In the long run, those images from Aleppo will be around for years inspiring the very terrorists Congressman Rohrabacher wants to fight.”