MSNBC, CNN, others strain to liken Ukrainian plight to domestic political issues

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New footage shows aftermath of bombing in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Fox News’ Bryan Llenas provides updates on the fallout from Russia’s invasion.

American pundits and liberal journalists have bent over backwards to compare Ukrainians getting bombed and killed during Russia’s ongoing attack to the plight of Americans under Republican rule. 

Ukraine has been devastated since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion that has resulted in civilian deaths, destruction of cities and over 1.7 million refugees as women and children attempt to flee the war-torn nation. While Ukrainians are fighting for their lives, some pundits have been equating literal war to things such as voting rights and the Jan 6 Capitol riot.

District Media Group President Beverly Hallberg told Fox News Digital that hyperbolic comments simply “shut off dialog we should have on important issues” in the United States. 

NBC’s Chuck Todd dinged President Biden for failing to make the comparison during his first State of the Union.
(William B. Plowman/NBC)

“This is a disservice to the American tradition of productive debate, and it is a disservice to the Ukrainian people who would gladly trade their problem for ours,” Hallberg said. 

“This is an attempt by the far left to continue with the faulty narrative that our democracy is under attack. They make these comparisons because there are little to no Biden Administration victories to highlight, so they are trying to win midterms by keeping Jan. 6 and voting laws in the news,” Hallberg added. “But it will be to their own detriment as the American people see very clearly what war is and what it isn’t.”

While the American people might realize the difference between war and liberal talking points, many members of the corporate media haven’t gotten the message. 

The Atlantic David Frum appeared on CNN last week and urged President Biden to blame the invasion of Ukraine on Republican ideology. 

“These events have given the absolute lie to the false and idiotic idea of America First, America alone, our allies are worthless, having friends is not important,” Frum said. 

President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday was the impetus for much of the punditry.  

“The end of the speech was about American values just as it was in the beginning when he was talking about Ukraine and Biden wanting to make the point that American unity is one of the things that he was elected to foster is still on the agenda,” CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip said. 

Liberal pundits weren’t happy when President Biden failed to connect domestic issues to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
(Saul Loeb, Pool via AP)

MSNBC anchors appeared particularly peeved that Biden didn’t tie Russia’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine to what the liberal network considers threats to American democracy. 

Joy Reid said Biden had an opportunity to “take a really solid hit at Republicans for having supported Vladimir Putin,” but whiffed on the chance.

“He did not mention the January 6 insurrection,” Reid added. “If you want to talk about a profound hit to our democracy, there’s nothing more profound than a violent physical attack on the very building he’s standing in. That did not make it into the speech, I found that interesting.” 

“There are critics, including Democrats, some really wanted him to tie the fight for democracy in Ukraine to the voting rights struggles and the challenges with American democracy here at home. He did not do that,” correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said. 

The following day on “Morning Joe,” Al Sharpton said “we must be consistent” on messaging when rhetorically defending Ukraine. 

“You cannot stand up to Putin and have a little Putin-ism in your own backyard,” Sharpton said. 

MSNBC’s Al Sharpton said, "You cannot stand up to Putin and have a little Putin-ism in your own back yard."
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross had a similar stance when a guest said the war in Ukraine won’t stop the left from pushing their domestic agenda. 

“I look at what’s happening in Ukraine, and I see, you know, democracy can be a fragile thing, and it feels a bit fragile in America right now,” Cross said. “We’re seeing the Republican Party bleed it by 1,000 cuts.” 

On Sunday, NBC’s Chuck Todd also dinged Biden for failing to make the comparison during his first State of the Union. 

“If there was one thing that surprised me about the president’s State of the Union was the lack of connecting the fight for democracy and freedom abroad, with the fight for democracy at home,” Todd said on “Meet the Press.” 

Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude, a guest on the show, agreed and declared he was “stunned” at Biden’s missed opportunity. 

“I was stunned. I mean it was an easy kind of rhetorical move,” Glaude said. “Let’s defend democracy abroad and secure democracy at home.” 

Todd then declared it would have been “politically helpful” if Biden could have somehow connected Ukraine to issues in America. 

“We have to address the question of what’s happening across the country in terms of the assault on voting rights. And we would also have to address the illiberal forces within our country that are driving the challenge to voter rights. So I didn’t understand it and I thought it was a mistake,” Glaude said. 

Last week, Todd was part of a similar conversation with Sharpton on MSNBC. 

“I’m curious, you know, to me, this moment of Bloody Sunday and what we’re seeing in Europe, there is a connection. It’s a fight for freedom, it’s a fight for democracy. And Rev, it’s a statement I thought we would hear from the president on Tuesday that connected the two. He didn’t quite do that,” Todd told Sharpton on “MTP Daily.” 

Sharpton was in lockstep with Todd, making an apparent play for sprawling Democratic election overhauls that are currently stalled in Congress.

“You cannot fight, and you should, for the right for the people of Ukraine to have a democratic state and make decisions based on voting and then not deal with that same right to be upheld here in America,” Sharpton said. “So, as we look for and pray for the people in Ukraine, we need to also deal domestically. And I think that connection is very clear, and we need to make it clear.”

Sharpton later added, “We need to underscore that we cannot be global liberators and at home ignore the threat to democracy right here.”

Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor feels that journalists are typically eager to do the left’s job for them. 

“In this case, that means tying a monstrous invasion to election laws in a free nation. It’s not about facts or even pushing a legitimate argument. It’s about Todd, Sharpton and the rest of the media mob pretending anyone who isn’t a leftist is akin to being a dictator,” Gainor told Fox News Digital. 

“There’s no ‘fight for democracy at home’ to use Chuck Todd’s words, unless you mean stopping the Biden administration from abusing the First Amendment and pushing censorship,” Gainor said, noting that voter ID is supported by the majority of Americans. 

“Every demographic group supports that — just not any of the network news media,” he said. 

DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall said this kind of punditry is “quite misguided” and will further damage the media’s already tarnished reputation. 

“America is polarized politically, to be sure, but to compare America’s policy struggles to Ukraine’s desperate military fight for survival makes no sense at all. The pundits engaging in this kind of extreme rhetoric are certainly trying to exploit a serious international crisis in order to make political smears at home,” McCall told Fox News Digital. “The American media has a role to play in providing informed and rational analysis of both international and domestic challenges and this kind of flame throwing only contributes to diminishing public trust in media.”

Meanwhile, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams even compared herself to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” last week.

“We are a stronger nation when we allow people to participate. And if we ever doubted that, the war that Putin is waging against Ukraine, President Zelenskyy said it — I’m going to paraphrase him probably poorly — he said this isn’t a war on Ukraine. This is a war on democracy in Ukraine. When we allow democracy to be overtaken by those who want to choose who can be heard, and those choices are not based on anything but animus or inconvenience, then that is wrong. My mission is to make certain that everyone can cast a ballot,” Abrams said. 

Abrams was swiftly mocked for the comparison, and others found issue with Noah’s silence. 

“Although he’s a comedy host and not a journalist, Noah still should’ve called Abrams out for that analogy because fighting against voter ID laws does not make you the same type of politician as one who has Russian hits squads coming after him because Moscow falsely labels him a Nazi,” NewsBusters’ Alex Christy observed. 

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