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NBC News “presidential historian” Michael Beschloss was mocked on Monday for likening Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to notorious former Sen. Joseph McCarthy because he pointed “menacingly” at a hearing witness.
Beschloss tweeted a grainy screenshot of Hawley questioning Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland at a Senate Judiciary Commitee hearing and wrote, “What U.S. Senator in history pointed menacingly at witnesses like this?
In case his reference wasn’t clear, Beschloss helpfully provided a picture of McCarthy in a follow-up tweet. McCarthy, a Republican Senator from Wisconsin who served from 1947 to 1957, became known for alleging, with or without evidence, that communist spies and sympathizers had infiltrated high levels of American government in the early 1950s.
Critics jumped on Beschloss for using a typical photo of a lawmaker questioning a witness in a flailing effort to compare Hawley to an unpopular historical figure.
Liberal journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has become a vocal critic of corporate media outlets, blasted Beschloss and noted his network had been front and center on the yearslong Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
“MCCARTHYISM: Holding your index finger and thumb together when speaking to someone,” he tweeted. “NOT MCCARTHYISM: Spending years accusing your political adversaries of being secret Kremlin agents treasonously working for Moscow to subvert American interests.”
“Add Beschloss to the list of people broken by Trump,” conservative writer Erick Erickson tweeted.
Some social media users posted similar photos of prominent Democrats like President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pointing at hearing witnesses during their time as U.S. Senators, as well as current lawmakers like Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Former MSNBC host Chris Matthews was also fond of making McCarthy references, frequently using Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas as the basis for comparison.
Beschloss has written 10 books, the most recent of which was 2018’s “Presidents of War.”
In the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riiot, Hawley has come under fierce criticism for objecting to swing state electors during the Electoral College certification of Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
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“Millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard,” Hawley said in a statement at the time. “I will object on Jan. 6 on their behalf.”
Before the violence began, Hawley raised a fist in solidarity to a crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol the day of the riot. He condemned the bloodshed afterward and called for justice against lawbreakers.
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