Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” fired back Thursday after being repeatedly accused of McCarthyism by conservative commentator and Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
Mr. Todd delivered a monologue about McCarthyism during the NBC show’s latest episode, saying the term has been used recently absent “much intellectual honesty or care.”
Without mentioning Mr. Carlson by name, Mr. Todd weighed in on the heels of the Fox News host repeatedly comparing him this week to former Sen. Joe McCarthy, the late Wisconsin Republican who infamously accused Americans during the Cold War of being communists.
Mr. Todd played a montage during the segment that showed several politicians and pundits, including Mr. Carlson, among others, making references to modern day McCarthyism. He also played a clip of the former senator slamming distinguished late journalist Edward R. Murrow followed by video of President Trump similarly disparaging the press.
“Some believe McCarthyism was about the Soviet Union and Communists – external threats – but it wasn’t. It was about the damage this nation can inflict upon itself when we lose sight of our past and our principles, when we succumb to our basic instincts, when we favor fear over fact,” said Mr. Todd.
“McCarthyism wasn’t about Communism, it was about power. It wasn’t about exposing threats, it was about imposing fear. It wasn’t about them, it was about us,” Mr. Todd continued. “And now, here we are again confronting the very same machinations designed to confuse, obscure and antagonize.”
Mr. Todd ended the segment by paraphrasing a famous line from a 1954 Senate hearing that preceded McCarthy’s downfall.
“It’s wrong and we all need to say so,” said Mr. Todd. “After all, have we no sense of decency?”
Mr. Carlson had accused Mr. Todd of McCarthyism during back-to-back episodes of his Fox News show this week over a recent interview in which the latter called out Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, for essentially repeating a dubious talking point that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.
“You realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, [Russian President] Vladimir Putin?” Mr. Todd told Mr. Kennedy on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Reacting to the exchange afterward, Mr. Carlson alleged that Mr. Todd “accused Senator Kennedy of being an agent of Russia” and “acting on behalf of a foreign government.”
“There is a name for that, actually. It’s called McCarthyism,” Mr. Carlson said on Tuesday this week.
The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections, and The New York Times reported last month that senators were recently told by intelligence officials that Moscow has been essentially trying to frame Kyiv for its own conduct.
The montage played on “Meet the Press” of people mentioning modern day McCarthyism included Mr. Carlson and fellow Fox News personalities Sean Hannity and Harris Faulkner, as well as Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, among others.
McCarthy’s purported anti-Communist crusade came to a halt shortly after being confronted during a 1954 Senate hearing by Army counsel Joseph Welch after accusing a member of the attorney’s law firm of having communist ties.
“Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch asked during the hearing.
McCarthy was censured by the Senate later that year and died in 1957.
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