Did you know that a right-wing talk show host has just said that she would have "no problem" with it if Bill Keller were "sent to the gas chamber" for publishing the big Times piece on the U.S.'s secret financial surveillance program?
And no one even blinked.
The host was Melanie Morgan, a sometime guest on MSNBC and a radio "personality" whose show airs on San Francisco's KSFO-AM. Morgan just did an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in which she said that Keller should be jailed for treason. You've heard that said plenty of times already. But you haven't heard what she said next. From the Chronicle:
"'If he were to be tried and convicted of treason, yes, I would have no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber,' Morgan, whose show airs on KSFO-AM, told The Chronicle on Wednesday. 'It is about revealing classified secrets in the time of war. And the media has got to take responsibility for revealing classified information that is putting American lives at risk.'"
Morgan is sometimes welcomed on to MSNBC's Hardball as a commentator. So I contacted Hardball spokesperson Leslie Schwartz to ask if Morgan would still be welcome on the show. After all, Morgan did say she'd countenance the execution of a fellow journalist. What kind of journalistic organization would even let her into its studios to hand people toilet paper in the bathrooms?
Schwartz, who was very polite and professional, said she'd get back to me.
For those who don't have a full grasp of the implications of the use of the term "gas chamber," here's a helpful primer from Wikipedia:
Many claim that the gas chamber is inhumane. Reports of gas chamber executions include:
September 2, 1983: Jimmy Lee Gray, Mississippi. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray's desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Says David Bruck, an attorney specializing in death penalty cases, "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while reporters counted his moans."...
More notoriously, gas chambers were used in the Nazi Third Reich during the 1930s as part of the so-called "public euthanasia program" aimed at eliminating physically and intellectually disabled people, and later the mentally ill...Later, during the Holocaust, gas chambers were modified and enhanced to accept even larger groups as part of the Nazi policy of genocide against Jews, and others...A journal read that when the doors to the chamber were opened, the bodies of the dead had been clawed at and looked as though they had bitten at each other in pain and horror.
You get the idea.
Several days ago -- also on Hardball -- Melanie Morgan said something similar to this. She said Keller and his associates should be jailed for two decades. That's pretty bad.
But what she's now said to the Chronicle is much, much worse. I don't know how to put this any more clearly: Melanie Morgan wouldn't simply countenance the prosecution, jailing, and even execution of Keller. She'd happily countenance him dying a horrible, excruciating death.
The reason I emailed MSNBC -- she's appeared elsewhere, too -- is that its execs have in the past shown the guts to pull the plug on such hateful nonsense. Some years back they fired Ann Coulter after she sneered to a Vietnam Vet: "No wonder you guys lost." In this case, Morgan didn't make the remark on MSNBC, but still, it's a more hateful and vicious remark by far than the one that got Coulter canned.
MSNBC's spokesperson Schwartz did finally get back to me, by the way. The answer? No comment. So apparently Melanie Morgan won't pay any kind of price for this. Oh, well -- it was worth a try.
Here's the thing: Is there anything at all that Morgan could say which would render her unwelcome at MSNBC or on any other network? If Morgan openly advocated for a second Holocaust or the re-enslavement of black Americans, would she be a guest on Hardball or any other major network's show? Of course not. There are of course certain limits somewhere; there are obviously certain things she could say that would make her too radioactive to be welcomed by MSNBC or others again.
The question is, Why isn't saying she'd happily accept the slow and agonizing execution of a journalist one of them?
Adapted from a post at The Horse's Mouth.