October 15, 2013
Carolyn Kaster / The Associated Press
John Boehner, left, and President Obama (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

MSNBC host Thomas Roberts had done his homework in advance of his interview with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). In a chat moments ago on MSNBC’s air, Roberts welcomed Blackburn for a discussion of the ongoing talks over the government shutdown and the debt limit. It didn’t take long for things to ignite.

After Roberts asked whether any bill from the House must contain significant revisions to the Affordable Care Act — the Obama administration’s signature initiative — Blackburn pointed out that the “House continues to pass bills.” Then she went into process considerations.

Perhaps sensing that Blackburn was indeed committed to seeing massive revisions to the health-care legislation, Roberts went blunt: “When it comes to Obamacare, do you hate Obamacare more than you love your country?” asked Roberts.

Blackburn: I gotta tell you something. I think that comments like that, that you are making, are just incredibly inappropriate. What we have to realize is that the CR…

Roberts: You don’t think it’s incredibly inappropriate to shut down our government and to take all the hostages of Americans that you’ve taken.

Blackburn: I said your comments

Roberts: No, no, no, no — it’s not inappropriate. Because you’ve taken the government hostage through a shutdown and all the American people, you’re now walking them to a cliff — the economy — and you’re going to push them over one by one based on the fact that you don’t like the ACA. That’s all it is. You don’t like the Affordable Care Act.

Blackburn: Listen to yourself. Listen to yourself. We didn’t want a government shutdown. Just listen to the way you’re sounding, my goodness! We didn’t want a government shutdown. We don’t want a government default…. We are continuing to work through this.

Roberts: Really? Because on Aug. 6 at the Economic Club of Nashville … you said, “Everything we can do, whether it’s defunding, delaying, repealing, replacing, all of our energy needs to be in every one of these efforts. I applaud Ted Cruz for getting out there and bringing this to the forefront.” Did you not say that?

Blackburn: Those are comments that I did make to the Economic Club and let me tell you why…

Roberts: So you have been planning a shutdown since August…

Blackburn: No. Not at all. Not at all. What you are doing is so inappropriate.

The back-and-forth continued until Roberts turned away to a Capitol Hill press conference. But MSNBC had gotten what it wanted, which is another explosive interview with a GOP leader. Roberts himself got into it with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in the shutdown’s early days, and one Republican after another has lit up the airwaves ever since.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.