MSNBC afforded disgraced economist and conspiracy theorist Peter Navarro nearly 15 minutes of airtime to promote right-wing fantasies about the 2020 presidential election. The interview absorbed more than a quarter of The Beat’s one-hour runtime. Navarro’s “bonkers interview” highlighted the danger of giving a platform to the charlatans and sycophants who plotted to overthrow the United States government on behalf of Donald Trump.
On Tuesday evening, MSNBC host Ari Melber hosted Navarro, a former economic adviser to Donald Trump and a liar and conspiracy theorist. Navarro came on to discuss revelations from his recently published book, which detailed how Trump allies and associates planned to forestall the certification of the Electoral College results and potentially overturn the election in Trump’s favor. In the book, Navarro explained how he and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon — who was recently named Media Matters’ “Misinformer of the Year” for 2021 — planned to work with over 100 Republican members of Congress to enact what they called “the Green Bay Sweep," a series of extra-legal congressional actions designed to stop the presidential transition.
In essence, Navarro described his plan to stage a coup on January 6, 2021.
For some reason, Melber chose to interrogate Navarro’s scandalous involvement with the January 6 insurrection via live interview. Their back-and-forth often devolved into cross-talk as Melber, a lawyer by training, struggled to control his guest and refocus the discussion on the facts.
On multiple occasions, Melber was forced to correct Navarro or inform viewers that what they had just heard was “false.” When Melber asked Navarro if he realized he was “describing a coup” in his book, Navarro responded “No” before outlining other spurious conspiracy theories tying various state election officials to progressive boogeyman George Soros. For several minutes at a time, Melber allowed Navarro to spew lies about the election and weave conspiracy narratives about election integrity. The torrent of misinformation eventually became more than Melber could manage, with the exasperated host admitting, “I can't fact-check everything in real time and also do the interview, but some of what you said is false."
The next morning, Navarro joined Steve Bannon’s War Room: Pandemic podcast to celebrate his ratings bonanza from the night before. The two right-wing conspiracy theorists praised Melber for platforming their lies and deception, with Bannon proclaiming, “We need more of that, that was amazing TV.” Navarro argued that forcing viewers to endure right-wing paranoia was “what cable news should be doing every night.”
Melber is an award-winning journalist who sits at the helm of a major weekday news program. Why condescend to the level of fabulists like Peter Navarro?
MSNBC prime-time host Lawrence O’Donnell set a standard for how the network ought to treat right-wing zealots like Navarro more than a decade ago, when he invited Orly Taitz — a prominent “birther” conspiracy theorist — to admit that she lied about having proof that then-President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. When Taitz refused to acknowledge her lie, and attempted to pivot to a new conspiracy theory, O’Donnell cut her microphone and ended the interview.
Navarro is trying to sell his book, and he’s even promoting an election fraud-themed board game. He’s not an expert in constitutional law or the American government. He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and now a sliver of MSNBC’s viewers have been misinformed by him.
You can view the full Navarro interview below: