In yet another NBC/MSNBC appearance, Smerconish trivialized "naked pyramid pictures" at Abu Ghraib and "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud" at Guantánamo Bay

››› ››› KURT DONALDSON

Guest-hosting MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Michael Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse as "naked pyramid pictures" and "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud." Smerconish claimed to be criticizing "the people who worked themselves into a lather" over reports of detainee mistreatment while ignoring the "dirtbags" who are "thinking about whose head they want to chop off next."

Guest-hosting the June 20 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Philadelphia-based radio host Michael Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse as "naked pyramid pictures" at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and "play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud" at the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay. Smerconish claimed to be criticizing "the people who worked themselves into a lather" over reports of detainee mistreatment while ignoring the "dirtbags" who are "thinking about whose head they want to chop off next." Despite these and other controversial comments that Media Matters for America has documented, Smerconish has continued to appear on -- and even guest-host -- MSNBC and NBC programs with increasing frequency. His June 20 appearance marked the ninth time he has substituted for host Joe Scarborough on Scarborough Country -- he subsequently guest-hosted a 10th time on June 21. Smerconish has appeared as a guest on Scarborough Country 17 times in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, Smerconish has also made four appearances on NBC's Today, as well as nine appearances on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews; he has also been a guest host for Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Westwood One's The Radio Factor and appeared on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto.

Media Matters has documented other instances in which Smerconish has minimized detainee abuse. On the May 30 edition of Today, Smerconish falsely claimed that "no one died at Abu Ghraib" and that the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib was merely "a lot of ridiculous actions ... carried out by nine knuckleheads." In fact, detainee Manadel al-Jamadi reportedly died at Abu Ghraib during an interrogation by CIA personnel on November 24, 2003; the Pentagon has labeled Jamadi's death a "homicide." Further, Pentagon investigations have found that military intelligence personnel helped establish the conditions leading to the abuse at Abu Ghraib, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) described the abuse as "systematic."

In addition, on the June 15, 2005, edition of Hardball, Smerconish stated of a Time magazine article detailing the interrogation of the so-called "20th hijacker" -- Al Qaeda operative Mohammed al-Qahtani -- at Guantánamo Bay: "I've read the Time magazine piece. Where is the abuse? We shaved the guy's beard. We played Christina Aguilera music and we pinned 9-11 victim photos to his lapel. That's abuse?"

Some of Smerconish's other controversial comments documented by Media Matters:

  • Guest-hosting the April 4 edition of The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, Smerconish repeatedly discussed "the sissification of America," claiming that political correctness has made the United States "a nation of sissies." Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this "sissification" and "limp-wristedness" is "compromising our ability to win the war on terror."
  • On the May 3 edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish again lamented the "sissification of America," this time in reference to the May 3 verdict in which Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison instead of death for his role in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
  • Discussing the allegations of rape against members of Duke University's lacrosse team while guest-hosting the April 11 edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish characterized as "goofy" an e-mail sent by team member Ryan McFadyen hours after the alleged rape about exotic dancers he planned to host that read: "[I] plan on killing the bitches as soon as the [sic] walk in and proceding [sic] to cut their skin off."
  • Substituting for Scarborough on the April 10 edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish suggested that "maybe law enforcement ought to step in" at pro-immigration demonstrations -- such as those that took place in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities on April 10 -- and consider "gathering ... up" illegal immigrants.
  • Guest-hosting the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, Smerconish interviewed Dr. Soo Kim Abboud, author of Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers -- and How You Can Too (Berkley, 2005). Smerconish asserted that "if everyone follows Dr. Abboud's prescription ... you're going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job, because you will have gotten them well educated." He continued, "But then they're not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids."
  • On the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, Smerconish took issue with Muslim men who were observed praying near Giants Stadium's main air duct during a New York Giants football game. Smerconish stated: "I just think that's [the men's public praying] wrong. I just think they're playing a game of, you know, mind blank with the audience. And that they should know better four years removed from September 11."

Today guest appearances for 2006:

June 16
May 30
April 11
March 31

Scarborough Country guest-host appearances in 2006:

June 21
June 20
June 19
April 13
April 12
April 11
April 10
March 23
March 2
February 2

Scarborough Country guest appearances for 2005-2006:

June 14, 2006
May 3, 2006
April 3, 2006
February 22, 2006
February 9, 2006
January 26, 2006
January 25, 2006
January 24, 2006
January 12, 2006
December 29, 2005
December 7, 2005
April 21, 2005
March 18, 2005
March 7, 2005
February 4, 2005
January 26, 2005
January 3, 2005

Hardball with Chris Matthews guest appearances for 2006:

May 31
May 23
May 4
May 3
April 20
March 8
March 6
February 27
February 21

From the June 20 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

SMERCONISH: Right now in Scarborough Country: Two U.S. soldiers brutally tortured and murdered in Iraq. How should America respond? And I want to know why are all those critics of so-called American torture not speaking out about the torture of our guys today?

[...]

SMERCONISH: A militant Islamic website claims the new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq personally carried out the killings of two soldiers found dead in Baghdad last night. Those bodies showed signs of torture. They were killed in a, quote, "barbaric way," and American troops had to literally fight their way to the bodies, which were booby-trapped with explosives.

It's a horrific story, and as I watch it unfold, I have to ask myself, where are all the people who worked themselves into a lather about the naked pyramid pictures at Abu Ghraib or those who wanted [war-crimes] trials at the Hague [in the Netherlands] because we played Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud for the detainees down at Gitmo [Guantánamo Bay]. Tonight in America, some are no doubt sitting in Barcaloungers kvetching over which American soldiers will next be put on trial for alleged war atrocities, and meanwhile, these dirtbags -- they're thinking about whose head they want to chop off next.

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