Things got heated Friday on Morning Joe as the show tackled the fallout after Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson's incendiary comments on homosexuality.
Conservative journalist Matt Lewis kicked off the segment arguing that the embattled reality TV star's views aren't extreme. "A lot of Americans believe that homosexuality is a sin, and that’s not an absurd or unique position to have. Even if they’re tolerant and completely OK with gay marriage, they still hold that fundamental religious tenet," said Lewis, a senior contributor at the Daily Caller.
Lewis recently wrote a column detailing the "culture war" between the left and right that he believes is dividing the country.
A&E suspended Phil Robertson, star of the TV reality series Duck Dynasty, earlier this week over his inflammatory comments about homosexuality. Robertson compared homosexuliaty to bestiality in a recently published interview with GQ Magazine.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Co-host Mika Brzezinski questioned whether Lewis would condone the Daily Caller publishing a similar statement, adding that the TV star's comments were "disgusting."
"I don't think this Duck Dynasty star is a great representation of someone making an intelligent argument," she said.
Lewis countered that he woudln't have worded Robertson's argument in the same way the TV star did.
Duck Dynasty follows a Louisiana family that became wealthy by selling products for duck hunters, primarily the "Duck Commander." His family has defended him, saying his beliefs were grounded in the teachings of the Bible.
Members of the family have tattoos on their bodies, which the Bible also defines as a sin, MSNBC's Thomas Roberts said.
"Why are we cherry-picking what's a sin in the Bible to elevate this conversation when he gave a disgusting interview to GQ?" said Roberts, who is openly gay. "We have to go through Leviticus, for what it's worth. And then we get into shellfish, we get into tattoos, which the Robertson boys have."
Republicans -- including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby jindal -- criticized A&E for suspending Robertson and defended his First Amendment right to express his faith and beliefs.
"Politicians are jumping in on this, and I think it's silly," Brzezinski said. "I think they look dumb."
"If you want to not work for anybody," MSNBC host Chris Matthews said, "you do have a lot more freedom to say the wrong things."