MSNBC's Liberal Advice to Scarborough: Pretend You Have Audience of One...And It's Tim Russert

Patricia Sellers of Fortune magazine posted a little piece on how NBC anchor Brian Williams interviewed the morning stars of NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC on their wake-up rituals for media writers. On the Today team, Meredith Vieira sets the alarm for 2:30 am, Al Roker at 3, Matt Lauer at 4:10, and Ann Curry at 4:30. But guess just how much prep time Joe Scarborough puts in? Almost zero. But surprise, he's been told to play to a typical liberal each day:

Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, boasted, typically, that he's the real Master of the Morning Universe. He hops out of bed at 5:30 a.m. (sometimes later, if he's feeling really cocky), throws on his clothes, and arrives at the studio by 6 a.m., when Morning Joe goes on the air. No sweat, says Joe, if you live close by.

By the way, I wake up each day to Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brezezinski. And I'm a big fan of the show. Scarborough said yesterday that when he came up with the idea for the program and pushed to get it on the air, MSNBC President Phil Griffin gave him a piece of advice: "Pretend you have an audience of one. And pretend it's Tim Russert."

So the show is a tribute, actually, to Meet the Press's former anchor, who was also NBC's Washington bureau chief. Russert died in 2008. NBC tries to follow Russert's rule: Never underestimate the intelligence of the viewer.

Dear Fortune: while Scarborough's show does stick to political topics instead of fixating on Lindsey Lohan rehab trips, Joe routinely underestimates the intelligence of Americans, especially now that the Tea Party seems to be winning.

Scarborough's questioning of liberal guests certainly bears no resemblance to the hard-hitting interviews of Tim Russert (the former aide to Democrats Mario Cuomo and Daniel P. Moynihan), and obviously you can't resemble Russert's thorough research when you're getting up minutes before air time. 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis