Via Greg Hengler and Noah Rothman, both of whom identify this as MSNBC’s attempt to gin up content to fill a slow summer news day. That’s correct. That’s how casual the smear is: They needed something to eat up airtime, so they decided to invite one of the professional “brown scare” peddlers from the SPLC on to theorize that the rationale given by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev himself maybe wasn’t the real motive. Dzhokhar allegedly said the bombings were payback for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Precious bears partial responsibility for those, especially the latter, so naturally MSNBC needs an alternate explanation. Who better to serve as scapegoat than “anti-government” forces? (Alex Wagner refers to the “far right” and the “fringe,” but the point of segments like this — always, always — is to indict mainstream conservatives by association for their own opposition to big government.) “The bombing suspects may not have been the radical jihadists they were initially believed to be,” says Wagner darkly, which is the cherry on top of this sundae. In a segment aimed at the sinister rise of conspiracy theories in today’s political culture, MSNBC’s essentially floating its own conspiracy theory. It wasn’t really a jihadist reaction to U.S. foreign policy that drove the Tsarnaevs, Dzhokhar’s confession notwithstanding. It was the rise of “radical libertarianism.” There is indeed a lot of paranoia in modern America, but here’s further evidence that it ain’t all on the right.

And to think, not two weeks ago, I gave the left credit for being a bit more circumspect about smears like this than used to be. Enough blather from me, though. What you should be reading instead of this post is Mark Hemingway’s chronicle in the new Weekly Standard of how the SPLC — the same group represented here as experts on hate and incitement — helped put the Family Research Council in the crosshairs of a violent nut motivated by political animosity. The SPLC placed the FRC on its, ahem, “hate map,” and Floyd Lee Corkins noticed it and decided to punish the “hateful.” No one expects MSNBC to make an issue of that the way the left crapped its pants about phantom right-wing motivations in the Tucson shooting, but you’d think Wagner would at least find it disqualifying when choosing an “expert” to come on and demagogue the right for the entertainment of the network’s audience. Repulsive. Exit question: How much is Michael Steele getting paid to play along with this? I sure hope it’s a lot.