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8 Best Smack-downs of Right-Wing Politicians and Their Hacks

From MSNBC to Fox, the most exciting instances of media figures taking liars and ne'er-do-wells to task.

The corporate-owned media so often produces bland interviews featuring soft-ball questions that it can make headlines when someone bucks that trend. It’s especially refreshing to see a truth smackdown on the media in an election year, when the cloud of political spin is especially thick, so you’ll see several of those instances represented below. But you’ll also find some favorites from years past, tackling not only political issues, but also social woes. Enjoy.

1. Soledad O'Brien takes on Romney’s spokespeople

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien has made headlines a few times in recent weeks for pushing back against Romney spokespeople who came on her show spouting lies. In this clip from her October 8 show, O’Brien takes on Romney hack Tara Wall, who refused to answer O’Brien’s legitimate question about the Republican candidate’s contradictory statements on Palestine. When Wall tried to turn the conversation around into a discussion of President Obama, O’Brien said, “Hold on, just hold....tell me how it’s not completely contradictory in your viewpoint, but don’t talk about President Obama at this moment, answer the question about Governor Romney.” Wall kept trying to deflect, but O’Brien wasn’t having it.

In this clip, from October 3, O’Brien interviews Romney advisor Barbara Comsotck, who accused O’Brien of “spin” and “talking points,” while spewing spin and talking points herself.

2. Chris Matthews calls out Reince Priebus on GOP racism

Another memorable smackdown from this election season involves MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and RNC chair Reince Priebus, who were both on Morning Joe the opening day of the RNC. Matthews ripped into Priebus for claiming that Romney was running a positive campaign and Obama a negative campaign, citing Romney’s racist dog whistle of a joke that he never gets asked for his birth certificate. “That cheap shot...was awful. It is an embarrassment to your party to play that are playing that ethnic card there,” said Matthews. After a tense exchange, Priebus muttered, “Garbage, garbage.”

3. Melissa Harris-Perry passionately argues, “What is riskier than living poor in America?”

On a September episode of her eponymous MSNBC show, Melissa Harris-Perry had on “business and finance expert” Monica Mehta as one of her guests. Mehta was spouting a lot of right-wing, pro-business, anti-welfare talking points, which Harris-Perry clearly took issue with. The discussion came to a head when Mehta referenced the risks taken by business owners. “What is riskier than living poor in America?” said Harris-Perry, raising her voice. “Seriously, what in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it'll be a good school and maybe it won’t. I am sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No! There is a huge safety net that whenever you fail will catch you and catch you and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people. And when we won’t, because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness! We cannot do that!"

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4. Lawrence O’Donnell talks to the empty chair that should’ve contained George Zimmerman’s lawyer

A full six months before Clint Eastwood made “ Eastwooding” and #InvisibleObama Internet phenomena, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell had his own interview with an empty chair. On his March 26 show, O’Donnell had been scheduled to interview Craig Sonner, the attorney for George Zimmerman, the accused shooter in the Trayvon Martin case. Well, Sonner cancelled his appearance at the last second  -- it’s no wonder why; he had bombed in at least one other major cable interview -- so instead O’Donnell interviewed the empty chair that should have housed Sonner’s behind. Hilarity and anger ensue.