Reductio ad Fascism: MSNBC Edition


As Reason's resident whistle-blower of those, on both left and right, who misuse the term "fascism," here is Keith Olbermann calling out a Republican for applying the term to President Obama. Fair enough. But the only problem, as the video below demonstrates, is that Olbermann himself is deeply outraged by the willy-nilly use of the term, except for when he employs it against his own political enemies.

So who called Barack Obama a fascist? Mitch McConnell? Rush Limbaugh? Bo Gritz? Well, not exactly. Olbermann flags a caller comment to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," in which a crazy lady from Florida tells Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) that "true fascism is happening in this country today." Cantor elides the caller's outburst, commenting vaguely on his desire to "work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle" and attempts "to try to bring this president back into the mainstream." Performing a bit of slight-of-hand, Olbermann than laments that "people are suppose to take Eric Cantor seriously about finance or about fascism or about anything" when, rather than tuning in to the Obama press conference, he attended a Britney Spears concert, despite the little issue of Cantor never havin uttered the word "fascism."

It is difficult to disagree with Olbermann guest Jonathan Alter, who takes a shot at the "fundamentally unserious" arguments about fascism made by the C-SPAN caller (whom he calls a "yahoo" from "palookaville," thus making a case for those bemoaning Beltway elitism). But wait! After condemning populist demagogy and ill-considered historical analogies, the Deeply Serious Duo compare the current Republican Party to 1930s radio fascist Father Coughlin! Observe:

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