Morning Entertainment: MSNBC Host Chris Hayes Gets Sneering C-SPAN Caller

C-SPAN Announcer: “David from St. Joseph Missouri, Republican Line”

Uh oh. This should have been MSNBC host Chris Hayes’s first alarm bell that this wasn’t going to go well. Hayes appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” this morning to discuss his new vampire book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. Despite the early hour, the typically caffeinated-laced Hayes was already bouncing off the walls when this call came in. Noteworthy: Hayes managed to insult veterans like the man below on Veterans Day when he said he was uncomfortable with calling fallen soldiers heroes. He later apologized.

“Oh Mr. Hayes,” sneered the male caller in a nasally voice. “Not only am I a Republican, I am a conservative and a veteran, so I know with a  lefty like you that doesn’t count for much, but I’ll make this plain and simple. You’re always going after the people that create the jobs, but you never care about people like [George] Soros who make their money and support your causes by tearing down countries like ours. You don’t care about the labor unions that use violence and crime that force their way down our throats if you don’t do what they want… You want a socialist country where the government controls everything.”

The host jumped in and directed Hayes to respond. At which point Hayes went on a wonky, professorial rampage.

“I certainly don’t want a country in which the government controls and dictates everything,” said Hayes. “We’ve seen what that looks like both in right wing fascist regimes and left wing communist regimes. The caller used the term socialism. Socialism obviously is a term that has been leveled at the President. I just think it’s really really important when we think about what kind of a society, what kind of vision we want, that there are a lot of different capitalist democracies in the world, and there’s just a huge different set of institutional arrangements in what a mixed economy and what a capitalist democracy with a welfare of social safety net looks like, where you draw the line between what the market should provide, what government should provide and how it should provide it. I think in America sometimes this conversation gets reduced into the idea that we either do it the American way or we have socialism. The playing field is wide open. We can choose all sorts of different sets of institutional arrangements, some of which might be much worse than what we have now, some of which might be better. I think we  should keep ourselves open to looking towards different types of institutional arrangements that are going to produce a society with affluence, with shared prosperity, with less inequality and less prone to crisis, frankly, than the one we have. I don’t think it’s helpful to describe any effort to look to that as socialism.”