Joe Scarborough Sets the Record Straight About Mar-a-Lago Trip

By A.J. Katz 

It’s been an odd start to 2017 for Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough. One of MSNBC’s most recognizable and outspoken personalities has come under fire as of late for what some in the media (and some viewers) feel has become an increasingly buddy-buddy relationship with with President-elect Trump. Those voices got louder this weekend as Scarborough was spotted at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida on New Year’s Eve.

Scarborough claims he was not there to partake in the festivities, but instead to discuss setting up an interview with Trump that would air on his program at around the time of the inauguration.

One reporter wasn’t buying it:

Scarborough didn’t take too kindly to the “partying” accusation made by Sopan Deb, an incoming New York Times reporter, and responded with this:

Scarborough and Deb got into something of a Twitter war. It seems to have ended after this tweet.

Scarborough is fighting back. In addition to addressing his problem with the media on Morning Joe this morning, Scarborough talked to CNNMoney’s Dylan Byers. The transcript is robust and was published this evening.

Byers asked Scarborough what exactly he and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski were doing at the function.

Well, we did what anybody at CNN or The New York Times or 60 Minutes or any other news agency would do. We talked about an interview, that we’d like to set up an interview with him around the time of the inauguration. Obviously there have been a lot of tough things said on both sides. A lot of very rough columns that I’ve written in the Washington Post about him. He obviously tweeted some very personal attacks toward both of us. So I’m sure there is not yet quite a comfort level there to come back and be interviewed again.

Scarborough doesn’t believe what he is doing is any different than what other TV journalists and analysts have done over time. He cites CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and New York Times’ Thomas Friedman as people who have maintained a longstanding relationship with the current President and those in his administration.

There are assumptions being made of me. But I am sure that if you took pictures of, let’s say Tom Friedman or Fareed Zakaria or E.J. Dionne or David Ignatius or other journalists that went to state dinners that Barack Obama invited them to. Or, I’m sure if there were photographs of, let’s say, Thomas Friedman golfing with Barack Obama, or Fareed Zakaria repeatedly hanging out with Barack Obama, or Fareed Zakaria actually sitting in the White House and having lunch or having dinner and advising Barack Obama on foreign policy — well, I would say I’m sure there would be questions raised about that too, but actually there haven’t been that many questions raised.

Does Scarborough believe many in the media are criticizing his relationship with Trump just because they don’t like the President-elect?

Well, if somebody reads the transcript to this interview, and looks at it fairly, I think there’s no other conclusion, that this is about Donald Trump more than this is about Mika or myself. Because we have been doing the same exact thing for nine years on this show… You just cannot say that what we’re doing is any different than what we did in the early years of the Obama administration or what Fareed Zakaria has been doing for eight years with the Obama administration or what Thomas Friedman has been doing for eight years with the Obama administration. Golfing with Barack Obama, going to state dinners with Barack Obama, flying on Air Force One with Barack Obama. Do I question Fareed Zakaria or Thomas Friedman’s journalistic integrity because they did that? No! I’m glad they had access, and I’m glad to know that when Thomas Friedman’s writing a column he’s actually talked to Barack Obama and has a better understanding of his thinking. But I don’t see anybody writing stories about Thomas Friedman golfing with Barack Obama or flying on Air Force One with Barack Obama or golfing with Barack Obama. Mark Halperin went on Trump’s plane one time and you seriously would have thought that he committed the gravest journalistic sin that’s ever been. No, the media actually needs to look at themselves — actually, media reporters need to look at themselves and ask why they are treating Donald Trump and the coverage of Donald Trump differently than other people. If they want to try to justify the attacks that way, they can do that. But it’s intellectually dishonest, and it’s intellectually dishonest to say that we are any chummier with Donald Trump and the incoming administration than we were with the Obama administration. It’s just not true.