‘You’re the arsonist here’: Fiery debate between NBC host, GOP senator
In a contentious interview, NBC host Chuck Todd and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson on Sunday accused each other of hypocrisy, double standards and working to undermine faith in democracy.
On “Meet the Press,” Todd attacked Johnson for joining a GOP effort to challenge the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory on Jan. 6; Johnson responded by saying the press had spent four years trying to destroy President Donald Trump. At one point, a frustrated Todd asked Johnson, “How about the moon landing? Are you going to hold hearings on that?”
Johnson, along with 11 other current or incoming senators including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have said they’ll resist the certification of President-elect Joe Biden, which is to take place in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. An unspecified number of House Republicans are also planning to attempt to overturn the election results.
“You’re the arsonist here,” Todd said to Johnson in discussing battles over election fraud. “President Trump is the arsonist here. You started this fire and now you’re saying whoa, look at this, oh my god, all these people believe what we told them because you didn’t have the guts to tell the truth that this election was fair.”
Johnson responded by accusing the mainstream media of working to overthrow Trump throughout his administration. “This fire was started back in, you know, January of 2017,” he said.
Both told each other they’ve “had enough” of those arguments, but then rapidly circled back to them.
Saying Johnson had spent “the last two years carrying a lot of crazy conspiratory water for President Trump,” Todd asked Johnson if his efforts to fight the certification of the Electoral College results were “a cynical political ploy.”
“I’m trying to be transparent,” Johnson said, before citing an unverified election-fraud allegation from Nevada.
“Just because you have somebody say it didn’t make it true,” Todd told him, adding later: “You got to ask yourself, when you tell people a million times that something was stolen or something was fraud and then they believe it, I think you need to look in the mirror.”
Johnson returned to an attack on the media: “I didn’t criticize Democrats when they were talking about potential hacking of voting machines, but now it’s quackery and conspiracy theory. That’s the problem, Chuck. There is a double standard, and we’re not being transparent and dismissing the concerns of tens of millions of American. Again, I didn’t light this fire. This fire was lit over four years ago and … you have destroyed the credibility of the news media by your bias.”
Todd concluded by thanking Johnson for having the courage to be interviewed. “Thanks for coming on. That I appreciate,” he said.