The Morning Joe segment, as it appears online, is called “Joe challenges criticism of Trump coverage.” It begins however, with a video of Vice President Joe Biden saying he thinks there is a possibility Donald Trump could win the GOP nomination and continues with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski discussing, per Scarborough, how “fascinating that it’s in the mainstream of political thought.”
It connects to the rest of the segment, you see, because Brzezinski’s prescient beliefs to that effect were, as Scarborough puts it, “scorned by all media outlets who’ve spent the past six to nine months suggesting that we were wrong about that. Now that it is happening, they’re now mocking and ridiculing us because we got it right. They suggested that somehow we’re too close to Donald Trump when that’s just a lie. The fact of the matter is, they’re just angry because they have been wrong for nine months and we have been right.”
Let’s call it the “they’re just jealous” defense.
Brzezinski explains, in this world in which criticism of Morning Joe’s interest in Trump stems from the fact that they were so good at predicting Trump’s rise, “Because we’ve known him on previous levels professionally, we’ve had a sense about this.”
“And it’s not just scorn we’re getting. From some of our competitors we’re getting a strange microscope, as if we’re incapable of asking Donald Trump tough questions,” she continues. “If you saw the town hall, you would see that we’ve asked him every question, we’ve pushed back. I don’t agree with probably four out of six major things that he said. I thought they were horrible and I have said that… And you’ve had our competition hold a similar town hall and ask him if he likes pizza.”
Brzezinski attributed it to “Trump derangement syndrome.”
“The Washington Post actually,” Scarborough adds, “after our town hall meeting the other night, when I peppered him with so many questions that I was actually attacked for interrupting too much–actually said that how dare they hold a town hall meeting when I don’t ask him tough questions. It’s a bunch of nonsense.”
Scarborough goes on to criticize WaPo’s Erik Wemple by name. Wemple responded in the Post with a tongue-in-cheek apology:
“I think it was Erik Wemple of the Washington Post [who] said. ‘How dare you have a town hall meeting where you don’t ask about his racist comments?’ . . . By the way, he didn’t write that article after CNN was asking what his favorite flavor of ice cream was and how he slept and what does he order when he goes through McDonald’s?”
Guilty as charged: The Erik Wemple Blog has most certainly failed to call out all the reporters and anchors and media organizations that haven’t adequately pursued Trump on his racism and bigotry. And we stand by every word of our review of the Scarborough-Brzezinski Trump town hall.
This next part of Scarborough’s defense was so important he repeated it again later in the segment.
“We live in a world of transcripts. Look at the transcripts. The truth is out there. And we ask tough questions, tougher questions that anybody has asked him in any town hall.”
“Just because our competitors have hired media reporters who have actually planted this seed in other people’s head that we’re going easy on Donald Trump.”
We do agree with Scarborough that the truth is in the transcripts, which we’ve linked to above, but this truth is a subjective one.
The questions certainly weren’t apolitical softballs asking about his favorite color or vacation spot. But were they tough?
For politicians in general, and especially in the case of Trump, it’s never just about the questions. It’s about how you respond when you get your predictable, repetitive, non-specific response.
And while there were a few “how will you do this” pushbacks sprinkled in among standard Trump boilerplate, Johnny Depp could have filled in for Trump using past debate and interview content for his responses and the result would have been the same.
But if you want to decide based on the merits of the questions themselves, that depends on your frame. The frame, for Scarborough and Brzezinski, is that Trump’s candidacy is legitimized by the fact that he is polling well. For this reason, he should be taken seriously and asked questions that fit within the vague plans he has laid out for the country.
But in looking at the transcripts, we notice, as have many critics, that treating Trump as a candidate of substance means working around the substance of his candidacy, which is comprised largely of xenophobia, bigotry, name-calling and an unchecked sense of grandiosity.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think below.