Mika Brzezinski Hysterically Defends 2008 Press Coverage of Candidate Obama

On Monday's "Morning Joe," co-host Mika Brzezinski launched into a passionate defense of President Obama's handling of tough press coverage in 2008. Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin retorted that Obama received soft coverage on the campaign trail, and has only recently learned how to face tough interviews. Brzezinski apparently thinks that is "revisionist thinking."

"He was raked over the coal– he had to do a freakin' speech about his race! Are you kidding me!?" Mika exclaimed when she was trying to rebut claims of Obama receiving soft media coverage.  

When co-host Scarborough and Time magazine's Halperin agreed that President Obama did not receive tough press coverage as a senator or as a presidential candidate, Brzezinski spat back "No. That is revisionist thinking."
 

"That's not revisionist thinking!" Scarborough shot back. "[Obama] was given a free pass." Then Brzezinski, a self-described Democrat, desperately tried to prove that President Obama not only received the tough questions expected for a presidential candidate, but was "raked over the coals" for certain stories and "put in positions that other men who ran for President never had to deal with."

Brzezinski lamented over people laughing at the concept of Obama being president, and claimed that Obama was grilled over the Reverend Wright controversy. That story was first hammered by Fox News's Sean Hannity in 2007, and only picked up a year later by the rest of the media. Newsbusters reported in 2008 that the major networks covered the story – but heavily edited and censored it so as to minimize the effect of the controversy on Obama's presidential hopes.

Scarborough argued that it was a legitimate story, and Brzezinski agreed but frenetically added that Obama was grilled for it and was put in the unenviable position of speaking about his race.

Though Brzezinski desperately argued that Obama did undergo tough media coverage, Scarborough countered her assumptions that he suffered criticism no other candidate has ever had to deal with. "So did the New York Times make up a story about him having an affair with a lobbyist?" Scarborough pressed, referring to a February 2008 piece by the Times that suggested a past affair between GOP candidate John McCain and a female lobbyist. The story was recently rebuffed by the lobbyist herself. "Or did the New York Times suggest that his wife was a drug addict?" Scarborough asked, this time alluding to an October 2008 piece by the Times on McCain's wife Cindy.

"You act like nothing happened!" Brzezinski later cried out to Scarborough as she frantically waved her hands in the air. "You make great points, but don't literally gloss over the past and slather it down with your view."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on February 7 at 7:13 a.m. EST, is as follows:

MARK HALPERIN: One of the things the President said in that interview was by the time you get to be President, you've had tough coverage, so he's used to it. Well the fact is, he didn't. Unlike most people that get elected President, he didn't have tough coverage, and so this is on-the-job training for him, and he's handling it pretty well.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Are you saying Obama didn't get tough coverage?

HALPERIN: Not as a senator or a presidential candidate.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh no. Well, I mean if you call reporters coming up to him and feeding him grapes before asking him questions – (Crosstalk) – like A-Rod –

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: No, that is revisionist thinking.

SCARBOROUGH: That's not revisionist thinking! He was given a free pass.

BRZEZINSKI: There was a lot of really great coverage. There was also some really tough moments where he actually had to give a speech on his race.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh come on, Mika, there were no tough moments for him. I mean come on –

BRZEZINSKI: There were people who laughed at the concept of him being President – "Ha! What a joke."

SCARBOROUGH: Mika, he was given the biggest free ride in the history of American politics. He was! Hillary Clinton was savaged. She was treated so unfairly by almost all quarters, and Obama could do no wrong.

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: That is the reality. They walked into that White House thinking that they were going to be treated like the savior. Like the Second Coming had happened. And that's why it's taken them two years to realize what actually we've been saying all along. They're human, and they're going to have to play by the rules of Washington, and if they don't, they're going to lose. And they finally figured that out two years later. C'mon. Disagree with me.

BRZEZINSKI: I do. I think that there was a lot of really good, glowing, unbelievable, ridiculously slathering coverage. I'm not disagreeing with that.

SCARBOROUGH: Of whom?

BRZEZINSKI: Of Obama's candidacy. But there was also – it wasn't all easy.

SCARBOROUGH: What was the toughest article you read about Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign?

BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I think he was put in positions that other men who ran for President never had to deal with.

SCARBOROUGH: Really?

BRZEZINSKI: And he overcame.

SCARBOROUGH: Really?

BRZEZINSKI: So –

SCARBOROUGH: So – so did the New York Times make up a story about him having an affair with a lobbyist? Or did the New York Times suggest that his wife was a drug addict? And did the rest of the media run with that? Did they?

Former Pennsylvania Gov. ED RENDELL: Joe, I generally agree with you, but what about Reverend Wright?

BRZEZINSKI: Reverend Wright?

SCARBOROUGH: What about Reverend Wright?

RENDELL: I mean, that was a –

SCARBOROUGH: He sat in the pews for years there? You don't think that those questions should have been asked?

RENDELL: I'm not saying –

BRZEZINSKI: They should have been and they were!

RENDELL: They were.

BRZEZINSKI: And he was raked over the coal– he had to do a freakin' speech about his race! Are you kidding me!?

SCARBOROUGH: You know, it's so rude when you speak – it's so rude when you interrupt Gov. Rendell.

BRZEZINSKI: You act like nothing happened!

RENDELL: I love it, "freakin' speech."

BRZEZINSKI: You just – I mean seriously, it's great you make great points, but don't literally gloss over the past and slather it down with your view. Don't do it. It's not fair.

RENDELL: Mika's on a roll. "Freakin' speech" and "slather." "Slather" is great.

BRZEZINSKI: It's not fair.

SCARBOROUGH: (Sarcastically) Yeah, okay. Okay Mika. The press was real, real tough on Barack Obama.

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