"Morning Joe" and Joaquin Castro agree: Publicizing the names of Trump donors is fair game

I shouldn’t be surprised at what the media is willing to condone in the name of thwarting Trump. But I am surprised — especially coming from this guy, the biggest hypocrite of all.

If we’re to going to start harassing Trump donors, I know where we should start. This NYT graphic published a few years ago remains the most eloquent indictment available of how much the press, particularly cable news, contributed to his campaign in 2016:

Not all media types were created equal in how they treated candidate Trump. Some covered him obsessively but relentlessly negatively. Others, like CNN, took a disapproving tone on policy while clearly being captivated by Trump’s glamour and upstart political narrative, hoping/expecting that he’d be easy pickings for Hillary Clinton in the general election.

But others were downright excited about him. I had forgotten this Scarborough interview with Hugh Hewitt in late January 2016 but Alex Griswold of the Free Beacon remembered. It’s common knowledge that “Morning Joe” cheerled for Trump for months after he entered the race in 2015, giving him tons of encouraging coverage as a breath of populist fresh air in a stale GOP field, but I didn’t recall how long it had gone on. Here’s Hewitt asking Scarborough half-jokingly if he’d … consider being Trump’s running mate:

HH: No, Joe, pause with me for a second. It makes perfect sense. You’re not the first person I’ve told this to. I have told a number of people Trump will ask Scarborough to be his running mate for a whole variety of reasons, especially Florida. And you’re not a stranger to Virginia, and you know your way around politics. So just, really, would you say yes?

JS: Oh, you know, I will say this, and I’ve said this on the air, and so this is not really any secret at all. I’ll do anything that will get, will stop us from eight more years like the past eight years we’ve had.

HH: Amen. And so if that included saying yes, you’d say yes?

JS: I mean, I think I’d put myself in your category. I would do just about anything to try to get the White House back.

Again, this was late January 2016 — around six weeks *after* Trump had proposed banning Muslims globally from entering the U.S. This wasn’t Morning Joe saying the day after Trump announced his candidacy that he’d do anything to undo Obama’s legacy. (Which would have been notable anyway, since Trump talked about rapists from Mexico in his announcement speech, setting the tone for everything to come.) This was Joe in “anything to stop the Democrats” mode with the Muslim ban already a matter of record.

This guy, who used arguably the most influential political chat show on American television to mainstream Trump in 2015-16, is telling you that random San Antonians need to pay a price for enabling Trump. But of course he doesn’t.

As for the clip below, the defense to Castro’s obnoxious bid to doxx Trump donors from his hometown was predictable: The donors’ information is already public via FEC reports. That’s true, but it’s of no consequence morally. Like I said yesterday, if a friend asked you to find out for him where his ex lives because he intends to stalk her, it’d be no defense to say “it’s public information” if you used a people-finder database to locate her for him. You had every reason to know how the information would be abused and you provided it anyway. Same goes for Castro. (Castro’s actually worse since he’s supplying the information unbidden, essentially inviting the stalking.) Nor is it a defense to say that Castro merely wants to see boycotts of pro-Trump business owners, not personal harassment. That’s not true. If it were, the list he published wouldn’t have included retirees, who were listed as such. He wants people targeted at home.

Griswold asks a good question too about Castro saying in the clip below that he didn’t create the list, he just retweeted it: “If there’s nothing wrong about what he did, what’s the point of diminishing his responsibility for it?” For that matter, why do he, Scarborough, and Brzezinski care that the information is already public in FEC reports? If donating to Trump is such a grave moral sin that it requires public shaming from a congressional soapbox, it shouldn’t matter if the information was public already or not. It’s weird to take an aggressive “name ’em and shame ’em” approach to your enemies with the caveat “but only if someone else has named ’em first!”

Needless to say, any Republican (especially Trump) who stooped to the tactic of publishing lists of an opponent’s local donors would be greeted with a rending of garments by critics and a Very Special Episode of “Morning Joe.” For good reason: Whether information is already public or not, curating and amplifying that information is dangerous in a political climate like the one we’re in. That’s why you almost never see anyone except mega-donors targeted by opposing parties. People like the Koch brothers and Tom Steyer can afford personal security, and the amount of money they’re contributing each cycle really can influence elections and policy in major ways. John Doe, retiree from San Antonio, can’t even if he’s maxing out with $2,700 to Trump’s campaign. If anything good comes out of this debacle, it’ll be a rethink of how much money a person needs to contribute to a political cause to trigger their inclusion in a public FEC list. A million-dollar donor is fair game since he’s potentially moving the needle on how government functions and has the means to protect himself. Grandpa Billy, who kicked in a few thou to the president? Nope.

But it’s going to get worse, not better:

By the way, not every reporter out there is standing behind Castro’s disgusting ploy. Yashar Ali called it “awful” and the NYT’s White House beat reporter, Maggie Haberman, warned that it was “dangerous.” The fact that even the press is conflicted about a harsh anti-Trump measure shows you how far over the line it is.