Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and NBC reporter Chuck Todd engaged in a fierce debate about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's father Thursday on MSNBC.
Bergdahl's father, Bob Bergdahl, reportedly encouraged his son to "obey" his conscience after the younger expressed dismay with the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan:
"Dear Bowe," he wrote. "In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones' conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible." He signed it simply "dad."
Bob Bergdahl has also sent out several pro-Taliban tweets, including one to @ABalkhi, the Twitter handle for a website claiming to be the "Voice of Jihad." The tweet read:
I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.
Scarborough initially criticized the image of President Obama with his arm around Bob Bergdahl. "I keep holding up this image where Barack Obama has his arm around a man who is reaching out to pro-Taliban forces, talking about killing Americans," he said.
Todd quickly objected to Scarborough criticizing Bergdahl's parents, setting off a brief firestorm.
"If my son is out on the wire and he is out there with fellow troops he is writes me up and says he hates America and he's thinking about deserting and he's thinking about leaving his post, I can tell you as a father of that 26-year-old or 23-year-old son, I'd say ‘Joey, you stay the hell right there.' I would call his commander. I would say ‘Get my son. He is not well. Get him to a military base in Germany.' I would not say ‘follow your conscience, son.' I would not reach out to the Voice of Jihad," Scarborough said.
"So he's a bad father?" Todd interjected.
"Yes. Yes, he is. Oh my God, Chuck," Scarborough shouted back.
The back and forth continued for the next several minutes with Scarborough repeatedly insisting he would never encourage his son to follow his "conscience" and put his fellow soldiers at risk.
Panelist and editor for The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol said he took Scarborough's point but would not criticize Bergdahl's parents himself. The reason this is even an issue at all, Kristol said, is because President Obama elected to put Bergdahl's parents front and center at a press conference in the Rose Garden.
"President Obama has to answer for that," he said.