Tension on the ‘Morning Joe’ Set

By Gail Shister Comment

An open letter to Mika Brzezinski:

Dear Mika:

Consider this a friendly intervention.

As I watched your testy confrontation with Joe Scarborough last week on “Morning Joe,” three words kept going through my mind – it’s about time.

After more than five years of silently enduring your bellicose co-anchor’s condescension and almost pathological interrupting, you finally took him on instead of resorting to your passive arsenal of withering looks and audible sighs. Good for you.

Granted, calling Scarborough’s behavior “chauvinistic” doesn’t carry the same firepower as, say, “Back off, bitch!” but it’s a start. You’re finally acknowledging that dirty looks and long sighs don’t work with a narcissistic bully, no matter how many times he promises never to do it again.

Which is exactly what Scarborough did yesterday, apologizing to you on the air for his dismissive, finger-snapping response to your absurdly tame remark, made during a heated discussion of Obama’s virtually all-male, second-term Cabinet nominees.

In his mea culpa, Scarborough said he had gone “to a dark place,” and that you “didn’t deserve it.” As one of his New Year’s resolutions, he said, “I’m not going to do that ever again.” He also resolved to interrupt you less. (Have you started an office pool yet?)

Channeling an abused wife, you told him everything was copacetic. Snapping your fingers was a nice touch, though. “Let’s do the news,” you said. And that was that.

Or is it?

Scarborough, like another male host on your very network, is deeply in love with the sound of his own voice. Whether someone else – including, or maybe especially, you — is speaking at the time is irrelevant. He’s all id, all the time. Real men don’t do impulse control. Ever wonder why so few “Morning Joe” regulars are women?

To a bully, there are two words that never apply: unexpressed thought. The only way to force Scarborough to shut up once in a while is to slip a Xanax into his Starbucks. I am sure this can be arranged.

Playing the beleaguered kid sister-cum-martyr to his bloviating big brother has never become you, Mika. You are a veteran journalist, backed by serious bona fides and the training ethic of an Olympian. You wrote a book titled “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth.”

Salary-wise, you’ve done that at MSNBC, but you had to make it happen yourself and I hear it got ugly. Kudos. Now it’s time to finish what you started last week — so gingerly, I might add.

Think of this as a clarion call on behalf of all women – and their daughters – who acquiesce to verbally abusive men. Stop being a victim and make yourself heard. The next time your co-host interrupts you, look him dead in the eye, raise your voice (this is key) and say, “Let me finish, Joe, please!”

You are more than a female traffic cop in a roomful of speedy boys. Man up, Mika. Make us proud.

Gail Shister