Scarborough Wrongly Claims Crime Worse in Red States Than Chicago

bradwilmouth | December 1, 2023
Font Size

Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

In a recent episode of Morning Joe, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pompously cheered on gun control activist Dr. Megan Ranney as she tried to correct Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) during a recent Senate hearing in which the liberal activist inaccurately claimed that gun death rates for the state of Louisiana are higher than for the city of Chicago.

He also allowed co-host Mika Brzezinski and Washington Post columnist Alexi McCammond accuse Senator Kennedy of racism for focusing on Chicago even though the chairman of the hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), emphasized Chicago in his introduction, and Dr. Ranney even referred to the high-crime city right before Senator Kennedy's question.

The segment began with a clip of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump referring to Chicago and New York City each as a "crime den," leading Scarborough to respond:

So Donald Trump and Republicans talk about crime dens in New York City. They talk about crime dens in Chicago. It reminds me of the hearing we saw this week of John Kennedy - Senator John Kennedy was talking about the shooting range -- the world's largest shooting range in Chicago, and a Yale professor corrected him and said, "Actually, death rates are higher per capita in Mississippi and Alabama."

He soon added: "You know what, he ought to visit Louisiana -- Monroe, Louisiana, the most dangerous city --  I think I read a couple of months ago -- in America. Jacksonville," and listed out the rest of the top 10 states for "gun death" rates.

But it seemed to go over Scarborough's head that Trump and Kennedy were both referring to gun-related crime while Scarborough and Dr. Ranney were both referring to all gun-related deaths, including suicides, as the MSNBC host cheered Dr. Ranney for supposedly correcting Senator Kennedy with her misleading comeback.

A clip was shown from the hearing in which Senator Kennedy asked Dr. Ranney if law-abiding citizens with guns in Chicago were responsible for the city becoming "America's largest outdoor shooting range," leading her to defiantly respond: "So Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates."

After a clip of her suggesting there was reason to believe that sprucing up neglected properties might lead to less gun violence, leading Senator Kennedy to mock her response as "word salad," Scarborough jumped in to obnoxiously imitate the Louisiana Senator's Southern drawl and to laughably claim that the liberal activist had "crushed him" with her response:

This Yale professor crushed him. And let's underline the fact he's talking about the shooting range in Chicago -- she points out correctly that his own state has higher death rates per capita. Forget about Illinois. Illinois ranks like 25th or 26th. Louisiana is in the top five. Louisiana the state has higher death rates per capita for guns than the city of Chicago.

Scarborough even compared her to LeBron James beating an amateur on the basketball court.

But according to 2019 FBI statistics, the per capita homicide rate in Chicago was 18.2 per 100,000 residents compared to 11.7 in Louisiana. But, if one excludes the 10 Democrat-leaning counties in the state, focusing on the 54 counties that voted for Trump in 2020, the homicide rate only averages about 8.0 for most of Louisiana -- and even that encompasses homicides in a number of Democrat-leaning cities within Republican counties. That would include Monroe, Louisiana, which Scarborough mentioned had one of the highest homicide rates in the country -- and it's long been a Democrat-leaning area.

More recently, in 2021, the statewide rate for Louisiana was about 9.5 percent compared to 22.4 in Chicago.

Brzezinski suggested that Senator Kennedy was racially motivated in asking about Chicago:

SCARBOROUGH: And getting back to Senator John -- Senator John Kennedy -- went to Oxford and a John Kerry supporter and went to Oxford -- he makes a wild incorrect assumption about Chicago -- 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: In a racist, rude way.

SCARBOROUGH: -- the world's biggest shooting range, he is then corrected by a woman who says, "Actually, your state has higher death rates per capita than the city of Chicago, and then he insults her.

McCammond soon declared that Senator Kennedy "couldn't understand what she was saying," and chimed in to blame race for him invoking the Windy City. 

But, according to the full footage of the hearing, Senator Durbin -- whose home state of Illinois is also home to Chicago -- highlighted the chaotic city's problems in his opening comments, and, just two minutes before Senator Kennedy began questioning her, Dr. Ranney recalled a friend of hers who was murdered there.

Scarborough even claimed Wyoming was the fifth "most dangerous" state even though it's homicide rate is one of the lowest.

It's just the latest example of how claims on MSNBC should be taken with a substantial grain of salt.

Transcript follows:

MSNBC's Morning Joe

December 1, 2023

7:30 a.m. Eastern

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at these cities -- our great cities are -- New York City is a crime den -- Chicago is a crime den. You look at these great cities -- Los Angeles -- San Francisco -- you look at what's happening to our country. We cannot let it happen any longer. And one of the other things I'll do because, you know, you're supposed to not be involved in that. You have to be asked by the governor or the mayor to come in. The next time, I'm not waiting. One of the things I did -- let them run it, and we're going to show how bad a job they do. Well, we did that. We don't have to wait any longer.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Donald Trump and Republicans talk about crime dens in New York City. They talk about crime dens in Chicago. It reminds me of the hearing we saw this week of John Kennedy - Senator John Kennedy was talking about the shooting range -- the world's largest shooting range in Chicago, and a Yale professor corrected him and said, "Actually, death rates are higher per capita in Mississippi and Alabama.

In fact, if you look, in nine out of 10, Trump states, that you have the top 10 deadliest places to be with firearms. So it's just so funny when he talks about a crime den in Chicago and New York City. You know what, he ought to visit Louisiana -- Monroe, Louisiana, the most dangerous city --  I think I read a couple of months ago -- in America. Jacksonville. Look at the top 10 -- Mississippi, Louisiana -- number three is New Mexico. Now, that's the one blue state. Four is Alabama, five is Wyoming, six is -- where is six? What do we got for six? Alaska. Alaska. Seven, Montana; eight, Arkansas; nine, Missouri; and 10, Tennessee. Look at those red states. All of those red states have a higher death rate by guns per capita than New York, California, even Oregon.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, I know we're kind of winding and weaving like we always do on Morning Joe, but can I show you that Senator Kennedy bite?

SCARBOROUGH: I would love that.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay, take a look at it.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Mika.

BRZEZINSKI: You're welcome.

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (D-LA): Why do you think that Chicago has become America's largest outdoor shooting range? Do you think it's because of Chicago's citizens who have no criminal record, but who have lawfully a gun in their home for protection or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it's because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong's arm?

Dr. MEGAN RANNEY, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: So Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates. Obviously, there's certain --

SENATOR KENNEDY: What about Chicago?

Dr. RANNEY: So I don't live in Chicago. It's not my primary area of research.

SENATOR KENNEDY: You don't have an opinion on that?

Dr. KENNEDY: I think there's easy access to firearms combined with environmental conditions, lack of great education. There actually have been studies showing that when you green vacant lots and repair abandoned buildings in urban neighborhoods, you see decreases in gunshots and violence as well as in stress and depression in the neighborhoods around them.

SENATOR KENNEDY: No disrespect, Doc, but that sounds a lot like word salad to me.

SCARBOROUGH (imitating Senator John Kennedy's Southern drawl): Well, it don't sound like word salad, but it sounds like you're trying to talk like you didn't go to Oxford and you didn't endorse Kerry in 2004..."

(...)

And now he's going like, "It's like word salad." (returns to normal voice) What's so fascinating about this, Mark, is it would be like me trying to drive the lane on LeBron James, and then getting like jammed and knocked to the ground by just his sheer athleticism, and then me going, (switches to Southern drawl) "That looked like word salad." This Yale professor crushed him. And let's underline the fact he's talking about the shooting range in Chicago -- she points out correctly that his own state has higher death rates per capita. Forget about Illinois. Illinois ranks like 25th or 26th. Louisiana is in the top five. Louisiana the state has higher death rates per capita for guns than the city of Chicago.

(...)

And getting back to Senator John -- Senator John Kennedy -- went to Oxford and a John Kerry supporter and went to Oxford -- he makes a wild incorrect assumption about Chicago -- 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: In a racist, rude way.

SCARBOROUGH: -- the world's biggest shooting range, he is then corrected by a woman who says, "Actually, your state has higher death rates per capita than the city of Chicago, and then he insults her.

ALEXI McCAMMOND, WASHINGTON POST OPINION EDITOR: Yeah, calling it "word salad" is just telling on himself that he couldn't understand what she was saying. I mean, like, when the facts do not back up your own points, then they are suddenly inconvenient to you and don't matter. You're rude or you cherry pick another set of facts to tell your story. I think what's incredible -- not in a good way -- is that people cannot hold two truths at the same time. They cannot say, "Yes, there is an issue in my state, and I'm doing X, Y, and Z to address it because it's a problem, but look at how it's out of control here, here and here," you know. It's as if they don't care about their own folks.

BRZEZINSKI: The premise of this question was --

McCAMMOND: Right, because they're so concerned with, you know, black people in Chicago frankly.

donate