Despite some brow-beating from CNN's John King, Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen didn't back down or apologize for his statements on the House floor that the lie by Republicans that the Affordable Care Act is a "government takeover" of health care is similar to the techniques used Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Uh oh. Dem Rep. Steve Cohen has no intention to apologize for insisting in a controversial broadside on the House floor that GOP lies on health reform are worthy of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. In a lively interview with me just now, he doubled down on the claim -- hard.
"I don't think calling out liars is uncivil," Cohen told me. "No reason to apologize. You have a duty to respond. if they were telling the truth and I said they were lying, then I would apologize," Cohen continued, referring to Republicans.
In case you missed, it, on the House floor last night Cohen unleashed a head-turning series of claims, arguing that the "government takeover" claim by Republicans is "a big lie, just like Goebbels." He added: "The Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it -- and you had the Holocaust."
Conservatives have expressed outrage today and demanded that Dems condemn the comment, but Cohen has no intention of backing off. In our interview he rejected the idea that he had compared Republicans to Nazis.
"I said Goebbels lied about the Jews, and that led to the Holocaust," Cohen said. "Not in any way whatsoever was I comparing Republicans to Nazis. I was saying lies are wrong...I dont know who got everybody's panties in a wad over this statement."
Cohen insisted that the invocation of Goebbels was legit, given the larger context: He said that Repubicans had, in fact, repeatedly used a big-lie technique on health care.
"There have been so many lies about the health care bill," Cohen said, citing "death panels," the GOP rejection of the Congressional Budget Office's finding that repealing reform would hike the deficit, and the claim that health reform represents a "government takeover."
"You can't stop them from saying that lie," Cohen said of the "government takeover" line. "It's their mantra. They go to bed with it. They do Yoga with it."
As one would expect, this has the right wingers going crazy. I think most liberals who follow politics were already more than aware of the amount of propaganda we're being exposed to from Republicans and their enablers in the corporate media without Rep. Cohen pointing it out to us. I also don't believe he meant to literally call Republicans Nazis by giving some historical context to the tactics they're employing. Here are Rep. Cohen's remarks on the House floor.
UPDATE: Cenk Uygur weighed in on Rep. Cohen's statements on The Young Turks as well. While I can understand criticism of Cohen's remarks as hyperbolic, that doesn't mean his point about the propaganda and how dangerous it is for society isn't truthful. Cenk has more on the feigned outrage and extreme hypocrisy we're seeing from the right on this.
UPDATE 2: Rep. Cohen defended his remarks on Anderson Cooper's show as well and explained that in no way was he trying to literally call the Republicans Nazis. He also said even though he was right to say what he did, he won't be bringing it up again again. I won't be surprised if we see him a apologize if the brow beating continues.
That said, I've really got to wonder what kind of shelf life this latest dust up has because I'm not quite sure either the Republicans or our corporate media want to go there if you really want to get into a prolonged discussion about how terrible both have been with propagandizing the public in America. You can make a lot of other comparisons to other propaganda campaigns and what the Republicans have been doing and they're not a whole lot more flattering than the Goebbels analogy.
I'm pretty sure that's a topic our corporate media would rather not spend a lot of time covering due to the fact that our they have been complicit in promoting the GOP's lies and propagandizing the public as well, but who knows. I guess we'll see how this gets spun shortly and to what degree.