This morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL) somewhat puzzlingly joined the show’s panel, which also featured Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, author and reporter Richard Wolffe, and the New York Times’ Robert Draper. West is not yet a member of Congress, and is known mostly for his history of extreme statements targeting Islam, liberals, women — all issues host David Gregory chose not to explore with West, instead asking him somewhat banal questions about things like TSA screenings and a possible Sarah Palin candidacy.
Gregory began the panel by asking West if he thought the uproar over TSA screenings would become an expanding political issue. West calmly replied that it may, given heightened holiday travel, and wondered if there is “a better way here,” like perhaps “psychological profiling” in the Israeli model. Watch:
This might have been a good opportunity for Gregory to ask West if his “psychological profiling” plan might include anyone who identifies as Muslim. West has, after all, said that Islam is “a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” He believes that terrorism is part of being Muslim: “This is not a perversion. They are doing exactly what this book (the Quran) says.” West is proud of these beliefs — he says that “[u]ntil you get principled leadership in the United States of America that is willing to say that,” we won’t be able to “secure Western civilization.” So it seems natural that Gregory might ask West if he thought every Muslim passing through airport security should be profiled, since, after all, West’s logic dictates that every Muslim is a terrorist. But Gregory did not ask that question.
Gregory also failed to ask West about the recent high-profile scandal involving Joyce Kaufman, the hate-radio host West briefly planned to hire as his congressional chief of staff. Kaufman also has a history of saying inflammatory things, like that when illegal immigrants who commit crimes, the U.S. “should hang you and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it.” Kaufman withdrew after an individual in Florida threatened government buildings after hearing Kaufman say on cable news that “if ballots don’t work, bullets will.” Gregory might have raised this episode in the panel’s discussion over possible tensions between the Tea Party and establishment Republicans, but he did not.
Among the other things viewers never learned about West when hearing his views on Meet the Press:
— Following Kaufman’s resignation over statements threatening political violence, West said he was “even more focused that this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda, this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that’s out there is soundly brought to its knees.”
— West slammed “chicken” leaders who read “memos from the feminists,” and defended his outsized rhetoric thusly: “That’s how people talk. … And you can print that: That’s how men talk.”
— Meet the Press graphics noted that West served in Iraq, but did not disclose that he resigned after facing a court martial for brutal interrogation tactics carried out against an Iraqi man.
If Meet the Press is going to ask extremists like Allen West to offer political analysis, it’s their responsibility to let viewers understand West’s philosophy clearly, so they can consider his views in the proper context.