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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson tries to rewrite the rules with his ‘Meet the Press’ meltdown

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson went nuts on “Meet the Press” Sunday. Don’t take my word for it. 

Okay, “nuts” is a strong term. I’ll rephrase, but the video is really kinda shocking. In the “interview,” and I use those quotes advisedly, Johnson declared his independence from the norms that govern appearing on MTP or other similar shows, one of which is that you are supposed to at least pretend to respond to the questions you are asked. 

The norms allow every guest to use every interview to express his or her viewpoint, however blinded by partisanship, although if the guest cares about maintaining what passes for credibility, they are expected to be smart enough to at least disguise their point of view, or blend it in such a way, that they appear to be responding to the question they are asked. That’s all. Let the interviewer ask a question. Acknowledge it in some way. At least pretend to answer it, and turn it into an excuse to segue into your preferred talking points. Johnson, in a don’t-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry performance rewrote or un-wrote or de-wrote those rules.

These rules are not in the Constitution. I don’t believe Johnson can be impeached, and probably will not be recalled, and having been narrowly reelected in 2016, doesn’t have to face the voters until 2022, but he seriously damaged any standing he may have had as rational, fair-minded or open-minded, or as able to attach any weight to any consideration other than rabid loyalty to some combination of Donald Trump and the Republican Party talking points.

It wasn’t subtle. Johnson wanted to rewrite the rules so he could deliver his talking points without even pretending to respond to or acknowledge the questions he was being asked. I fear it was more evidence of a certain kind of meltdown that is occurring in our politics/government/democracy under the insane new requirements imposed on Republicans by the Trump presidency. 

Maybe I’m overreacting. Meet the Press went on the air in 1947, before most Americans had a television. It’s the longest-running TV show in U.S. (or world) history. It’s not the Holy Bible, but in the complicated norms of how our politics works, it has had a certain standing. But it, and the other similar shows, can’t really fulfill their roles if the new Ron Johnson rules for how to conduct yourself in an MTP interview become the new normal, which I think is actually quite possible.

Republicans who want to do that, should just go on Hannity and be straight about it.

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by ian wade on 10/07/2019 - 04:37 pm.

    Why do Republicans hate America?

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/07/2019 - 04:46 pm.

    Godwin’s rule is a good rule, and I try to adhere to it as best as I can. I avoid Nazi analogies, and I don’t think Trump is a proto Hitler. But my golly, we have seen, in the last nearly three years how the rise of Naziism is possible. We see good people, or at least people who aren’t all that bad just go along with evil, and facilitate evil things. Who dreams of growing up to be just like Ron Johnson on Meet the Press yesterday? Is being a senator really worth it? Was the free parking space he got as a perk really worth the selling of his soul? What’s the point of going down in history, if it means going down in history like that?

    • Submitted by Curt Carlson on 10/08/2019 - 11:34 am.

      “Who dreams of growing up to be just like Ron Johnson on Meet the Press yesterday?” People like Stephen Miller.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/07/2019 - 04:55 pm.

    Hopefully he won’t be invited back, and will have to pay for his publicity, or stay in the Faux News bubble.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/08/2019 - 01:24 pm.

      We can’t have that. Balance is all important, even if it means giving air time to someone who once would have been exhibited to the peasants at medieval fairs.

      Besides, both sides do it. Didn’t you know that?

  4. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 10/07/2019 - 11:15 pm.

    I guess to defend Trump you must become as bizarre as he is. Johnson, Jordan, Rubio and others are proving Trump is the indefensible. Now, if Trump’s faux defenders would only say what they say in private about Trump, then we would know their “real” feelings. That’s what cowards do, talk with bravado, and hide when they can. Jordan and Rubio’s defense of Trump is, “That wasn’t a real request of China.” Okay, now it’s okay for the President to speak and the rest of the world try and figure out if it is another one of Trump’s lies or did he mean it. If they misinterpret it could lead to disaster.

    • Submitted by Richard Steuland on 10/14/2019 - 09:21 pm.

      As I watch a stream of bizarre and unhinged republicans I often wonder what my father would think of today’s crop of dishonest and disloyal Republican politicians. Dad was a Goldwater Republican. Where is Goldwater among them? All who have put self interest before public interest should be removed from office. Somehow they know just how distasteful their stand on bread and butter issues are and thus the deceptive spin. Until our elections are public ally funded this pay to play politics remains.

  5. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/08/2019 - 08:05 am.

    As Johnson babbled endlessly about sinister deep state conspirators like Comey, McCabe and Strozyk I was reminded of the single biggest sin of the Trump era: These individuals and thousands of others like them in the “deep state” were OK when they spent countless 60-80 hour weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks tracking down every lead.

    Flag wavers like Johnson readily acknowledged them as heroes. And they were: they entered government service out of a desire to serve their country. They all could have followed an easier path if financial gain was their goal. And up to 2016 we almost all universally agreed on the selflessness of their service.

    Hop in the time machine and go back to 2016 and ask any Republican office holder their opinion of the lifetime contributions of Robert Mueller and be prepared for an overwhelming response of superlatives: an exemplar of the very best this country has produced from a 22 year old soldier in Vietnam to concluding his career as Director of the FBI.

    And now, a narcissistic, pathological liar, who never served a day in service for his country, get’s elected President and 40% of Americans accept that these former heroes are now the enemies of the state.

    It is an outrage that we have taken these real heroes and made them the new enemy and the target of political scoundrels like Ron Johnson. And the GOP let’s then get away with it so as not to lose any political advantage or be scorned by the emperor.

    Wake up WI voters: Make this scoundrel pay a price for his gutless posturing.

    • Submitted by Misty Martin on 10/08/2019 - 12:39 pm.

      Mr. Blaise:


      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/08/2019 - 01:17 pm.

        Thank you.

        I recommend that the “Deep Staters” out there pick up Andew McCabe’s book: “The Threat”.

        Also get a big, wide tipped, black magic marker and as you work your way through it be your own William Barr and redact everything that refers to anything 2016 or later.

        Now, go back and re-read the book, and the majority of it is still there, and tell the class what you think of one Andrew McCabe.

        I think you will agree that this is what we hope our public servants will be: dedicated, selfless, apolitical.

        And he got fired one day before he becomes eligible for his pension by petty, vindictive, traitors like Steven Miller who have not done .01% for their country that McCabe, Comey, Mueller, Strozyk and others that they have tarred with their made up fantasies.

    • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 10/11/2019 - 12:26 pm.


  6. Submitted by joanne brown on 10/08/2019 - 08:16 am.

    “but he seriously damaged any standing he may have had as rational, fair-minded or open-minded“

    I live in Wisconsin. Ron Johnson has never fooled us into thinking he is fair-minded, much less rational. He blames global warming on sunspots.

    I’m just embarrassed that the rest of the nation has been exposed to our shame.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/08/2019 - 08:43 am.

    It is just sooooooooo bizarre that any Republican would wine about Trumps lack of well wishing and honeymoon after spending 8 years trying to nullify Obama’s presidency. These guys have zero integrity and no shame. Didn’t a Republican shout: “Liar!” at Obama during his first State of the Union? Or maybe it was his second.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/08/2019 - 08:58 am.

    This is a nice example of the alternate reality Republicans have been constructing for decades.

  9. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 10/08/2019 - 12:43 pm.

    Natural consequences for rule breakers – no longer invited to fill interview space with terrible tirades.

  10. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/08/2019 - 02:16 pm.

    Senator Johnson is not as skilled at lying and using bafflegab as a smokescreen of defense a Trump. I wonder how many listened to Sen. Chris Murphy’s calm and thoughtful answers in the interview following?

    Johnson seems to have planned his tirade. He must know he will probably never be invited back to Meet the Press. Senator Murphy is right to be concerned that this gives the green light to Trump to enlist other foreign powers in his re-election bid, with many favors (or punishment) to follow. It also seems to signal that the Trumpian-authoritarian right will not cooperate with the main stream media unless it cooperates in propagandizing its dangerous message.

  11. Submitted by Patrick Tice on 10/08/2019 - 04:59 pm.

    The voters of Wisconsin made a mistake when they elected this guy. Let’s hope they use a bit of discernment next time.

  12. Submitted by Julie Stroeve on 10/12/2019 - 10:32 am.

    when will these conspiracy yokels move into today? they live in a world of delusion going back a decade. it’s astonishing!

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