MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panel clashed Friday morning over Phil Robertson's indefinite suspension from A&E's "Duck Dynasty." While conservative reporter Matt Lewis expressed fears over the "chilling effect" of silencing politically incorrect statements, co-host Mika Brzezinski called Robertson's comments about homosexuality "disgusting."
"I do worry about the chilling effect whereby if you express a politically incorrect viewpoint you are now being sort of shamed and you could be fired," Lewis said.
But Brzezinski said Robertson's comments were essentially beyond the pale, and asked Lewis whether he would want to see such statements published in his outlet, the Daily Caller.
This publicity image released by A&E shows Miss Kay Robertson, left, and Phil Robertson renewing their vows in a scene from the the season 4 premiere of "Duck Dynasty." (AP/A&E)
"What he said was disgusting, and he said a lot of other disgusting things too. You're holding him up as like some sort of thought leader," she said. "That was disgusting. Would you want that on the Daily Caller?"
While Lewis said that it's not the way he would have presented the issue, he defended the "Duck Dynasty" star's "right to say it" and condemned the practice of punishing people who share their views on controversial issues.
Earlier in the segment, MSNBC's Thomas Roberts also disagreed with Lewis, asking whether he also came out to defend MSNBC host Martin Bashir over the scandal surrounding comments he made about Sarah Palin -- statements that ended Bashir's career at the network.
Lewis said most conservatives thought Bashir shouldn't be terminated over his remarks, but he called the comparison "a false equivalency."
"I think this is entirely defensible," Lewis said of Robertson's comments, adding that the "Duck Dynasty" debacle appears to be a part of a larger trend of telling people opposed to gay marriage to stay silent.
He added, "It's his opinion and are we going to create a situation where expressing a politically incorrect opinion is fireable?"
Co-host Joe Scarborough also dove into the debate as well, seemingly defending Robertson and noting that there is "a great divide" in American culture and that millions agree with the "Duck Dynasty" star's views. He also highlighted a perceived double standard.
"Obviously I could cite ... interviews from rock stars that I've been listening to for 40 years, 50 years and cite far more abhorrent statements and far more abhorrent behavior," Scarborough said. "And yet we don't demand ... that rock stars be taken off their record labels."
(H/T: The Hill)