Scarborough Trumpets 'Morning Joe' As 'Safe Haven' of Debate, 'Switzerland' In a Polarized News World

On Monday's "Morning Joe," co-host Joe Scarborough cast Fox News as an unabashedly conservative network while trumpeting his own show as a neutral voice of sanity in a polarized news environment. "In this world of Balkanized cable news outlets...it is kind of nice being Switzerland," he gloated, asserting the neutrality of his "Morning Joe" program.

"This show is a safe house where people can come and talk whether they are on the right or the left," Scarborough described his MSNBC morning show. "But there aren't many places left like that outside these three hours."

"Morning Joe" by-and-large leaves guests the freedom to express their own opinion. But Scarborough's assumption leaves out the fact that an overwhelming number of liberal guests and analysts appear on the show. Jon Meacham of Newsweek, former MSNBC host Donny Deutsch, and Tina Brown of The Daily Beast are three of many liberals who appear regularly on "Morning Joe."

In contrast, a far-right conservative appearing on "Morning Joe" is rare. MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan is one of the few conservative voices appearing regularly on the show. RedState's Erik Erickson appears infrequently and contributors from publications like National Review appear rarely if ever.
 

Time magazine's Mark Halperin added that Fox achieved "fig leaf credibility" by hosting the liberal Williams as a guest on its evening shows – but that the network's liberal guests still appear few and far between.

Discussing the firing of Juan Williams by the liberal National Public Radio, Scarborough opined that he was fired because he appeared on Fox too many times. "They're firing [Williams] because he worked at Fox News," he asserted, casting Fox News as the conservative side of an increasingly polarized news debate.

Scarborough also professed his love for the left-leaning NPR, even though he considers himself a conservative. "I'm a conservative that's always loved NPR. I've always listened to their morning edition and 'All Things Considered'," he gushed.

"I listen on the weekends. I'm sorry, there just – I know conservatives disagree with this – you don't have many outlets like NPR or PBS. They provide services that other media outlets don't provide. So I've just got to say, as a fan of NPR and as a conservative, I hope they straighten up."

Concerning Juan Williams and Fox News, Halperin added that Williams was not treated with the respect that he deserved by the network. "When I watch him on, he is not always treated with that much respect," Halperin remarked. "And he's frequently outnumbered," added Major Garrett, congressional correspondent for National Journal and a former Fox News White House correspondent.

A partial transcript of the segment, which aired on October 25 at 8:06 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: And you know Mark – and we have talked about it a lot here, you and I have talked about it a lot – this show is a safe house where people can come and talk, whether they are on the right or the left. But there aren't many places left like that outside these three hours.

MARK HALPERIN: As I often say, Huey Lewis was right. He said that this – that this show stands out for that reason. And Juan Williams' place on Fox, which is defended by Brit and others, gives them kind of fig leaf credibility to say "We bring on divergent voices." There aren't very many and I – you know, frankly, when I watch him on, he is not always treated with that much respect. He is not treated with the kind of respect that –

MAJOR GARRETT: And he's frequently outnumbered.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: I have got to say this, though, about NPR, and got to get this out. For me, first of all, it's just a terrible, terrible mistake on NPR's part. They – I think they are – the person that runs it should be fired. And I say that not because I loathe NPR, because I'm a conservative that's always loved NPR. I've always listened to their morning edition and "All Things Considered," I listen on the weekends. I'm sorry, there just – I know conservatives disagree with this – you don't have many outlets like NPR or PBS. They provide services that other media outlets don't provide. So I've just got to say, as a fan of NPR and as a conservative, I hope they straighten up. Because right now, they have their heads stuck in the sand like it is 1978. I cannot believe how foolish their CEO has been.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: It's not like they're firing him because he's a conservative. Because he's not a conservative. They're firing him because he worked at Fox News.

(...)

BRZEZINSKI: But the bottom line is, where you stand politically, where you stand politically, where all of us – we all know we're all being completely transparent, and it's a part of moving foward.

SCARBOROUGH: And let me just say, Mika, that in this world of Balkanized cable news outlets and now actually – it is kind of nice being Switzerland. We like being Switzerland here, don't we?

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014