Morning Joe: What Clinton Calls Smears Are Really Factual Criticisms

April 1, 2016

MSNBC’s Morning Joe panel lambasted Hillary Clinton Friday for dismissing criticisms levied against her as smears perpetrated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), Clinton’s Democratic primary challenger.

"What’s amazing about the Clinton campaign is they take unfortunate facts as lies and character smears," co-host Joe Scarborough said while discussing Clinton’s angry response the prior day to environmentalists protesting one of her campaign events.

Speaking on a New York college campus Thursday, Clinton was confronted by activists from the organization Greenpeace, one of whom asked if the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee would stop taking money from the fossil fuels industry.

Clinton responded by angrily wagging her finger in the woman’s face and shouting, "I am so sick, I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it."

"This Greenpeace activist from last night told her the truth ... about she’s taken money from oil, gas, and energy companies," Scarborough said. "That’s not a smear. That’s a question based on things that have happened on her record. Certainly it’s not Bernie Sanders and it‘s not the Greenpeace activists either."

MSNBC political correspondent Kasie Hunt added that Sanders’ call for Clinton to release the transcripts of speeches she gave to Wall Street for large sums of money, including three speeches to Goldman Sachs for $675,000, is the closest Sanders has come to "making a suggestion" that is a character-related attack.

"That’s not a personal attack. That’s like asking somebody to release their tax returns," Scarborough said.

"Right, so it’s a transparency-related issue in that way," Hunt said. "But I will say if this is negative and you have a problem with this tone that Bernie Sanders is leveling at you, and you’re looking at [Donald] Trump next--"

Co-host Mika Brzezinski noted that Hillary Clinton has been involved in politics "for decades" and experienced far worse attacks, so these criticisms are not personal.

"And the speeches are worthwhile," Brzezinski said. "She received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very companies that are at the center of the debate about where our economy is right now. She received money for speaking to them privately between the time that she was secretary of state and running for president. She knew she was going to run for president. What did she say to them that is so different than what she’s saying to us? We deserve to know."

"That’s certainly not personal, nothing personal about that," Scarborough said.