MSNBC Highlights 'Right-wing Fringe' Tea Partiers and Their 'Threat' to Mainstream Republicans

MSNBC host David Shuster on Tuesday touted the threat that "right-wing fringe candidates" could pose to "more mainstream Republican" politicians. The segment, which aired on News Live, identified tea party candidates as "fringe" three times.

While Shuster was introducing reporter Luke Russert, an MSNBC graphic hyperbolically derided, "Conservatives Target Their Own Fringe." After Russert discussed how a third party candidate in Nevada could help Senator Harry Reid, another graphic announced, "Third Party Support: Sen. Reid Benefits From Fringe Candidate."

Is it the official position of MSNBC that tea party-supported individuals are all part of the "fringe?" After all, MSNBC employs Ed Schultz, who, on September 24, 2009, ranted, "The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They'd rather make money off your dead corpse!"

On October 5, 2009, host Dylan Ratigan hyperventilated that conservatives don't care if "half the country dies" in order to "take down Obama" on health care. Perhaps MSNBC shouldn't be throwing around the term "fringe" quite so easily.

A transcript of the March 2 segment, which aired at 10:36am EST, follows:

DAVID SHUSTER: The GOP is busy preparing for the 2010 November elections where there is an outside chance Republicans could gain the majority of the Senate and possibly the House as well. However, establishment Republicans are worried that right-wing fringe candidates could upset their plans by taking votes away from more mainstream Republican candidates. NBC's Luke Russert joins us with more of what he is hearing in the halls of Congress. And, Luke, what's this all about?

MSNBC GRAPHIC: Conservatives Target Their Own Fringe

LUKE RUSSERT: Well, David, it's quite interesting. While Republicans are quick to say that the tea party could greatly benefit them in November due to the fact they bring so much enthusiasm to the conservative side, a new poll in Nevada showed that Harry Reid, who is known as the most vulnerable Democrat, if the third party tea party candidate folks' candidate is on the ballot, it comes down to Reid 36, the Republicans 32, the tea party guy 18. [MSNBC Graphic: Third Party Support: Sen. Reid Benefits From Fringe Candidate] Of course in this situation, Harry Reid, the vulnerable Democrat, wins. Why? Because the conservative side is split. A lot of rank and file Republicans especially folks who are part of the mainstream Republican groups are very scared about this. If Harry Reid cannot be unseated because of the tea party, something that they are so happy with because of the enthusiasm, [sic] could end up biting them and shooting them in the foot in November, David. Very interesting and a lot of folks are quite, you could say, apprehensive up here about this.

SHUSTER: Yeah, fascinating dynamic. And it will be so interesting to see how that plays out between the establishment GOP and these tea partiers who want to run these third party candidates. Luke Russert on Capitol Hill. Luke, thanks as always.

RUSSERT: Be well.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.