On MSNBC Live, Norah O'Donnell hosted Mark Williams -- a New York-based radio host and spokesman for the Our Country Deserves Better Political Action Committee -- who took the opportunity to accuse President-elect Barack Obama of “buy[ing] the office of presidency” and of promising to enact “harmful, anti-American policies.” This is merely the latest in a string of appearances on MSNBC in which Williams has made baseless and incendiary attacks on progressives.
On the November 24 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Norah O'Donnell hosted Mark Williams -- a New York-based radio host and spokesman for the Our Country Deserves Better Political Action Committee -- who took the opportunity to accuse President-elect Barack Obama of “buy[ing] the office of presidency” and of promising to enact “harmful, anti-American policies.” This is merely the latest in a string of appearances on MSNBC in which Williams has made baseless and incendiary attacks against progressives.
Williams appeared on MSNBC Live to tout a television ad produced by the PAC thanking Gov. Sarah Palin for, in Williams' words, “representing the beliefs, the views, and the values of a great number of Americans.” Williams said the PAC is raising money to run the ad during football games on Thanksgiving Day. When O'Donnell asked Williams if he was “using Sarah Palin to raise money for [his] PAC,” he responded, in part: “That's the way politics is done in America -- you raise money. Ask Barack Obama. He raised what, a billion, to buy the office of presidency.” Williams also asserted, "[W]hat Our Country Deserves Better is all about is supporting the institution and the office of the presidency of the United States while guarding the nation against harmful, anti-American policies that this incoming president promises to enact." O'Donnell responded by saying: “All right, Mark. Well, you're definitely serving it up hot on this Thanksgiving. Thanks so much.”
Media Matters for America has noted comments Williams has made in a series of appearances on MSNBC in the past three years, smearing and baselessly attacking progressives and Democrats:
- On the August 16, 2007, edition of Hardball, Williams asserted that “every military advance we have made” in Iraq “has been ruined, one way or another, by some fat-mouthed congressman, usually a Democrat, opening his mouth on Capitol Hill.”
- Also on the same edition of Hardball, presumably referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Iraq, Williams said, " 'Nancy Botox' is out there saying, you know, 'We're leaving! We're running! We're gonna go away!' " Host Chris Matthews responded, “You know, Mark, that doesn't help me any.”
- Williams also asserted on that edition of Hardball: “I hope what we get is the truth from General [David] Petraeus about every step forward on the ground being made by the military since we started this being ruined, and two steps backwards being taken on Capitol Hill by the Democrats playing politics on this and plucking the pennies off the eyelids of the newly dead.”
- On the September 26, 2006, edition of Tucker, Williams asserted that “people have made up their minds ... that if we vote Democrat, that just hastens the day we disappear in a nuclear holocaust.”
- On the August 22, 2005, edition of Hardball, Williams referred to another guest on the program, Colleen Rowley, a former FBI whistleblower and Minnesota Democratic congressional candidate at the time, as a “pathetic creature” and asked what she had done besides “flapping her jowls on MSNBC.”
Additionally, Williams has made similarly charged comments in appearances on Fox News. For example, on the February 2, 2008, edition of Fox News Live, Williams said of Sen. Hillary Clinton, “I've been in upstate New York in the Albany area for the last couple of weeks, and I have yet to meet anybody who likes this woman.” And on the October 5, 2007, edition of America's Newsroom, Williams claimed that Obama “took his flag pin off after 9-11, and he felt, apparently, some sort of an affinity or some sort of a connection, because at that point he felt it OK to come out of the closet as the domestic insurgent he is.”
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on November 24:
NORAH O'DONNELL (anchor): And just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, a conservative political action committee is raising tens of thousands of dollars to launch an ad campaign thanking Sarah Palin for her role in the 2008 election. Our Country Deserves Better is rolling out a series of four ads like this one.
[begin video clip]
NARRATOR: We thank you for your passionate, hopeful, and articulate advocacy of common sense conservative values.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a symbol of hope for America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're thankful you taught your son about the greatness of America, and the honor and valor of serving in our nation's armed forces.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Sarah Palin.
[end video clip]
O'DONNELL: Joining me now live is Mark Williams, spokesperson for Our Country Deserves Better. Mark, thanks so much for joining us.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. Good morning.
O'DONNELL: What's the purpose of this ad campaign?
WILLIAMS: To say exactly what it says: Thank you, Sarah Palin, for representing the beliefs, the views, and the values of a great number of Americans, us included. A very simple message. It's Thanksgiving, and we thank Sarah Palin for representing us. It's not exactly all that -- there's nothing hidden in there.
O'DONNELL: Well, how much are you spending on these ads, and how widespread are they running?
WILLIAMS: Well, the ads will be running nationally. In fact, they'll be running during football on Thanksgiving Day, and they're only the latest in a long series of ads. We spent well into eight figures during the final weeks of the election campaign on a 35-city, 6,000-mile speaking tour where we also spent a great deal of money in swing states like Nevada and Michigan, as well as nationally. The bottom line here is --
O'DONNELL: So, Mark? Mark, so you said they will --
WILLIAMS: -- is we're simply saying thank you, but what's been very interest -- I'm sorry.
O'DONNELL: Mark, can I ask you -- I'm sorry, so you said, so they will be running. They're not currently running, is that correct?
WILLIAMS: These -- these ads are the latest. These particular ads are not running. We have a whole bank of ads that have been running. These are simply the ones we made for Thanksgiving to express --
O'DONNELL: I guess --
WILLIAMS: -- that sentiment.
O'DONNELL: Mark, the reason I ask that is because I was reading about this, and I saw that the director of your PAC said that you hope to raise tens of thousands of dollars with this new ad. I guess I just have to ask the question, are you using Sarah Palin to raise money for your PAC? Are you really thanking her, or are you using her image and her supporters just to raise money for your PAC?
WILLIAMS: We're raising money to run the ads, because ads aren't cheap to run. That's the way politics is done in America -- you raise money. Ask Barack Obama. He raised what, a billion, to buy the office of presidency. What's been most interesting of all about this entire thing, though, has been the vitriol and the sheer fury with which a very simple “thank you” has been greeted. The people who are posting to Arianna Huffington's post, and to Daily Kos, and Democratic Underground, and a few of these other places, have been vile, they've been racist, they've attacked my good friend Lloyd Marcus -- who happens to be a black man -- with all kinds of racial epithets. They are absolutely -- their heads are exploding because we said a very simple thing: “Thank you.”
Since when did hope and change mean you can't say “thank you” to someone who shares your political point of view? Is it now forbidden to have an opposing political point of view? What America deserves -- what Our Country Deserves Better is all about is supporting the institution and the office of the presidency of the United States while guarding the nation against harmful, anti-American policies that this incoming president promises to enact. And, at the same time, say thank you very much to Sarah Palin and try to do something to head off the “Dan Quayle-ing” of her, which we've seen happening quite a bit.
O'DONNELL: All right, Mark. Well, you're definitely serving it up hot on this Thanksgiving. Thanks so much.
WILLIAMS: OurCountryDeservesBetter.com, or dot-org. Don't miss it. Thanks, Norah.