MSNBC’s Morning Joe seemed to be trying very hard to avoid the Discovery Channel hostage incident on Thursday morning -- even though NBC had the exclusive of speaking with hostage-taker James Jay Lee before he was shot. With Willie Geist and Chris Jansing guest-hosting the show, they talked a lot about Middle East peace negotiations, and Hurricane Earl, and sinking Democratic midterm prospects, and even anonymously sourced hit jobs against alleged serial liar Sarah Palin in Vanity Fair. In the whole three hours, they never blabbed with guests about James Lee’s inspirational figures or his ultra-left website weirdness.
The subject only came up about six minutes into the 6 am hour, before a Tom Costello news report. Jansing relayed: “Disturbing details are emerging about that gunman who was shot and killed yesterday after holding three people hostage at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Maryland. Court records show the 43-year-old, identified as James Jay Lee, was a radical environmentalist who said he experienced quote, 'an awakening' when he watched former Vice President Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth. In a manifesto Lee wrote, he also railed against shows like Kate Plus Eight for encouraging the birth rate [of] quote, “parasitic human infants.”
At 7:30, after another airing of the Costello report, Geist and Jansing talked to NBC News producer Rob Rivas, but even as Rivas vaguely mentioned the Lee manifesto, the hosts stepped right around any loose talk about Lee’s eco-inspirations:
The author of a 10,600-word Vanity Fair hit piece on Sarah Palin is defending his work, claiming he set out to defend the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, but that the resulting article "was forced on me by the facts."
Michael Gross appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Sept. 2 to discuss his article in the October issue of Vanity Fair. The piece depicts Palin as a volatile, vengeful, mean-spirited figure, although Gross only managed to find one person willing to speak critically of Palin on the record.
"The worst stuff isn't even in there," Gross said on "Morning Joe" when asked about the extreme picture he paints of Palin. "You know, I couldn't believe these stories either when I first heard them and I started the story with the prejudice in her favor. I have a lot in common with this woman. I'm a small town person, I'm a Christian. I think that a lot of her criticisms of the media actually have something to them and I figured she'd gotten a bum ride but everybody close to her tells the same story."
Yet for someone so supposedly enamored with Palin, Gross sure turned quickly. He said Palin is "a person for whom there is no topic too small to lie about," citing a speech in Wichita in which Palin contradicted other statements she'd made about finding out her son, Trig, would have special needs.
NBC's Richard Engel has done some good reporting from Iraq. But scratch the reporter's surface, and you find a political partisan eager to echo the anti-Bush party line. Witness his exchange with Ari Fleischer on Morning Joe today. Engel twisted the former Bush press secretary's words, accusing him of alleging an Osama Bin Laden connection with Iraq. Fleischer had palpably said no such thing.
The springboard was Fleischer's citation of a 1998 OBL interview in which the terrorist boss said America was weak because it is unable to see through long wars. Fleischer went on to argue that America's resolve will be tested should things go badly wrong in Iraq or Afghanistan, thus putting under pressure the arbitrary dates that have been set for US withdrawal from those countries.
Engel jumped in to accuse Fleischer of claiming an OBL tie with Iraq. Even after Fleischer made explicitly clear he was alleging no such connection, Engel obdurately pressed his point.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made the rounds of the six broadcast and cable morning news shows on Tuesday morning to help set the table for the President’s speech marking the end of major combat operations in Iraq. Of the six network anchors Gibbs spoke with, only CBS’s Harry Smith failed to ask whether President Obama would extend credit to President Bush for the successful surge strategy (a strategy then-Senator Obama denigrated as futile).
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos recited House GOP Leader John Boehner’s dig at politicians who “fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy,” and then rejected Gibbs claim that Boehner’s was “made up history.” NBC’s Matt Lauer recited Obama’s own words to Gibbs: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are gonna solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Howard Dean pulled off the rare twin-trashing this morning, dumping on both Glenn Beck and the people who respond to his message. He began by calling Beck crazy, saying he has "a few things the matter with him up here, up in the head there." Later, he compounded the calumny, calling Beck a "racist" and a "hate-monger." So who were the hundreds of thousands of people who attended the rally and the millions more who watch and listen to Beck? Why, according to Dean, they're "lost souls."
New York Times columnist Charles Blow had set the vitriolic tone during the show's first hour, accusing Beck of "hiding behind a cross" and participating in a "rhetorical assassination" of Pres. Obama.
When Joe Scarborough wondered out loud "how many times can you set your hair on fire?" before viewers stop being shocked, you might have thought he was talking about Keith Olbermann, the man whose scenery-chewing soliloquies inspired an instant-classic Saturday Night Live skit.
On today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe took turns ripping Beck's promotion of the rally at the Lincoln Memorial he's staging Saturday on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Riffing off a Colbert Show segment showing clips of Beck, Mika claimed he sounded like a drama student "on crack." Scarborough, suggesting Mika might have gone too far, surmised Beck might merely have taken "stupid pills."
Once again, the co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Joe Scarborough hinted that "certain networks," (ahem, MSNBC) hold quite the double standard between Democrats and Republicans. When the subject matter was President Obama's snub of an Iraq War question during his vacation at Martha's Vineyard – he remarked "We're buying shrimp, guys" – Scarborough pointed out that network coverage of Bush would have been far more negative.
As NewsBusters reported last week, Scarborough also believes "certain networks" will "maul" Haley Barbour if he runs for President in 2012.
The show's co-host Willie Geist first opined that news coverage might have been different with President Bush. "I hate to make this point too often," he said, "but imagine for a moment George W. Bush were on his sixth vacation, and he was asked about Iraq, and he said 'I'm buying shrimp.' You think that wouldn't be a headline everywhere?"
"You're implying there's a double-standard, Willie," conservative guest Pat Buchanan snickered.
Picking up where she left off last week, MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski on Tuesday and Wednesday cast opponents of the Ground Zero mosque as a "destructive" force, "demonizing" Muslims and "promoting ignorance."
Yet Brzezinski advocated Wednesday for a compromise between the two sides to be spearheaded by President Obama. When Joe Scarborough opined that President Obama, along with former presidents, needs to get involved in a compromise, Mika blurted out that "if [Obama] can have a summit in Boston between a professor and a cop, I think he can do this."
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" panels largely supported the proposed Ground Zero mosque on both Tuesday and Wednesday, although they did show sympathy toward families of 9/11 victims. But the talking heads still would not give full credence to opponents of the mosque.
Perhaps the climax of the struggle came toward the end of Tuesday's 7 a.m. hour, where Mika faced off against the vice president of America's 911 Foundation, Nick Leischen. The organization supports active first responders nationwide in memory of the 9/11 attacks.
After Leischen, speaking for families of 9/11 victims, said that the mosque within sight of Ground Zero would be an affront to grieving persons returning to the site, Mika unleashed her tirade.
We've heard the knocks on NBC and the institutional bias that exists in its network - from the subtle spin in its flagship network's news coverage at NBC to the over-the-top bias at its cable news channel MSNBC. So maybe the man behind the curtains at NBC Universal would like to be more overt with his opinions - as a politician?
On MSNBC's Aug. 25 "Morning Joe," Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal, addressed both his possible political aspirations and bringing back one of the network's former star personalities. Host Joe Scarborough asked Zucker where his political interests were at this stage.
"You know Joe - look, politics is something I've always had an interest in," Zucker said. "It is something I've always thought about. It is not something that is on my current radar. It's not something I'm thinking about in the next few years, but it is something that I would always consider. I think - I love politics. I would love to give back. I would love to serve. I would love to do something, but it is not imminent. It's nothing now."
Time magazine's Mark Halperin engaged in the ultimate condescension Monday morning, arguing that families of 9/11 victims need to be guided by others into the Ground Zero mosque debate.
"For the families of the victims of 9/11, whatever emotions they want to have, I respect and I honor. But somebody needs to lead them through a discussion," Time's senior political analyst lectured on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He mentioned a meeting that reportedly took place between the mosque's planners and the 9/11 families, which he insisted "needs to happen."
Halperin said the meeting "did not go well," but added it was and is necessary. "As I said before, whether it moves or stays, that discussion must happen. This must be done with reconciliation. And it's got to be led by leaders, not by people like Rick Lazio...and facts," Halperin noted.
The show picked up fresh from where it left off last week, bashing the supposedly inflammatory rhetoric from the right opposing the mosque and sympathizing – while disagreeing – with the families of 9/11 victims over the planned mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero.
Scarborough predicted on Thursday that if the Mississippi governor is the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012, the media would smear him as a racist white man from the South running against the first black president. He particularly stated that "certain networks" would "maul" Barbour if he runs, resulting in an awkward moment on the set.
Could Scarborough possibly have meant MSNBC in that cast?
Time magazine editor Richard Stengel on Thursday appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to bemoan the United States' "ignorance" towards Muslims and to wonder, "Is America Islamophobic?" That particular question is also on the front cover of the current issue of Time.
Leaving only two options, Stengel lectured host Joe Scarborough, "I mean, the extent of the ignorance- where you parse Islamophobia versus ignorance of Islam, I'm not exactly sure. But there is tremendous ignorance of Islam as a religion." Declaring that Christianity Judaism and Islam have great similarities, he derided, "And I think, you know, the American misconception about Islam is amazing."
Scarborough, at times, seemed to go along with the contention that America is Islamophobic. He complained, "As a country, this sort of hatred was visited upon the Irish...the Germans, Jews."
Joe Scarborough likes Haley Barbour. But he doesn't like the "optics" of the southern governor running for president against Barack Obama. Scarborough's worried that "certain networks" would "maul" the man Scarborough referred to as "Boss Hogg." [H/t reader Ray R.]
Interestingly, both the Politico's Jim VandeHei and Tina Brown of the Daily Beast were able to see more of an upside for Haley. VandeHei described him as best among Republicans at articulating conservative principles, while Brown saw the hands-on governor's potential as the "un-Barack."
For two days running, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" seemed overwhelmingly in favor of allowing the Ground Zero mosque to be built, despite a poll showing Americans being opposed to the construction of the mosque.
The panels included co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and liberal columnist Mike Barnicle as well as MSNBC contributors Mark Halperin, Norah O'Donnell, and Pat Buchanan. Their toughest rhetoric was reserved for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, due to his comments about the mosque being the equivalent of Nazis hanging a swastika next to a Holocaust memorial. But the talking heads also failed to give the American people's opposition to the mosque its just due.
Perhaps the biggest gem came from columnist Mike Barnicle, who described those Americans questioning the mosque as stuck in their own reality. "They're not really thinking about the idealistic trek, they're thinking about their own reality," Barnicle quipped. "And their own reality is that we were attacked on September 11. They're not making the connection to the Constitution, and that's where we are this morning."
Joe Scarborough called the whole debate a "wedge issue" that is distracting the country "from doing good things" such as "working on jobs." The co-host continued, saying the issue has become so much more complicated due to opposition to the mosque, and added that America giving in to "radicals" could worsen the whole debate.
Was Mark Halperin just mugging, or was he truly turned off by Donny Deutsch's antics on the set of Morning Joe today? Check the video and be the judge.
Here's the background: on the show's August 6th edition [a clip of which was played today and is seen in the video here], Deutsch turned up in a tight black T-shirt and proceeded to spend much of his appearance flexing for the cameras. He ended his self-promoting shtick by doing a set of push-ups as the closing comments rolled.
Deutsch, apparently doing sartorial penance, appeared in a three-piece suit this morning. But when Mika Brzezinski chided him for his macho act, going so far as to facetiously accuse him of "sexting" on the set, Deutsch couldn't resist recreating his previous performance, doing a set of dips on the desk.
Harry Reid may have deserted Pres. Obama over the Ground Zero mosque, but PBO can count on at least one stalwart defender: Norah O'Donnell.
On today's Morning Joe, the MSNBC "correspondent" declared that the prez is deserving of praise for his position. Then, dancing a quantum leap further, O'Donnell accused mosque opponents of acting "like the people who attacked America and killed 3,000 people."
Ironically, just minutes earlier Mike Barnicle and Joe Scarborough were heaping scorn on Newt Gingrich for having said that the mosque has no more right to be built near Ground Zero than would a Nazi site near the Holocaust Museum or a Japanese one next to Pearl Harbor. The pair were horrified by Newt's analogy. But when Norah compared mosque opponents to the 9-11 murderers, Mike and Joe were peep-less.
On Monday's Morning Joe, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski went out of their way to defend President Obama's Friday statement defending the planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York City. Brzezinski cooed that the President "did the right thing by saying what he said." Scarborough labeled the remark "non-controversial," and later stated the controversy over the mosque was a "wedge issue" [audio clip available here].
As NewsBusters' Noel Shepard reported, the former Florida congressman turned MSNBC anchor blasted Newt Gingrich for his barrage against the President for his defense of the mosque. Earlier in the broadcast, just after the top of the 7 am Eastern hour, Brzezinski related her personal anecdote about discussing the issue over her recent vacation, and went right into her "right thing" defense of the President's stance.
Scarborough replied to this by berating Gingrich, in an early preview of his later attack:
Joe Scarborough on Monday bashed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for saying the building of the Ground Zero mosque would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.
Scarborough was responding to the following from Sunday's New York Times:
Mr. Gingrich said the proposed mosque would be a symbol of Muslim "triumphalism" and that building the mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks "would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum."
The next day on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Scarborough let Gingrich have it:
Was MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski just joking or was she channeling some actual frustrations with her employers at MSNBC? As Brzezinski sat in as a guest co-host of Saturday’s Today show on NBC, she repeatedly joked about admiring Steven Slater, the flight attendant who quit his job at JetBlue by erratically bailing out of his plane down the emergency chute holding two beers. While co-host Amy Robach admitted that she was "getting sick of this story," Brzezinski had only just heard the story because she had been vacationing the past week. Reveling in her fascination with Slater, she made such declarations as, "I feel his pain," "I think I love him," and, "I have dreams about doing that actually."
Although at one point she referred to sometimes being annoyed at unruly airline passengers as a reason for sympathizing with him, she also twice joked about jumping out of the window of the NBC studio at 30 Rock. At the top of the show, she jokingly predicted, "I might jump out the window with a beer. You never know." During a plug later, she mused: "Two beers, I love him. It's my dream just to, like, right outside the window of 30 Rock. What do you think? On an escape hatch."
During Morning Joe on Thursday, MSNBC's Chuck Todd appeared baffled by a discussion of negative feelings directed towards Barack Obama from Wall Street. The confused journalist wondered, "Look, at the end of the day, he has not done that much when it comes to business stuff."
Mad Money host Jim Cramer relayed to Todd that Wall Street is upset because, "Most of the people on Wall Street are behind the scenes guys" and the President is demagoging the issue and demonizing them. Todd argued that, regardless of what the President does, "He is getting trapped and hit from both sides, but it isn't just that, this is how sour the American public is."
To understand why Wall Street and the American public might be "sour," one needs to look no further than the cap and trade energy proposal, health care, the financial reform bill, the stimulus, or the nationalization of the automobile and student loan sectors.
Love him or hate him as a "conservative," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough just showed he hasn't been completely brainwashed at his network. On his Aug. 11 program, Scarborough demonstrated just how thin the veil is over the parlor tricks going on with in the U.S. House of Representatives controlled by Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
At the center of this was the back-and-forth between Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., over Sept. 11 responders compensation legislation. Their disagreement has been well documented dating back to Weiner's late-July outburst on the House floor accusing House Republicans of playing politics with this legislation. The two had one more dust-up on Fox News a day later, but since then it has been a he-said, he-said situation.
Weiner alleges this was a non-controversial bill that should have been passed easily with a two-thirds vote. King argues the Democratic House leadership could have offered it up and it would have passed with a simple majority. But there were some issues with offering the bill up under normal House procedure with the Hispanic Caucus.
More in sorrow than in anger, I'm about to record a personal blogging first: airing a gripe about Willie Geist. When writing of the Morning Joe sidekick, my habit is to append adjectives such as "affable." Willie is indeed a likable guy, patently comfortable in his own skin. And while I don't suspect him of being a closet conservative, neither is he anything of a raging liberal, typically striking a regular-guy's middle ground on most issues.
All of which makes his comment of today that much more surprising—and regrettable. Geist was commenting on an ad by an anti-Ground Zero mosque group to be displayed on NYC buses, which shows a plane flying into one of the WTC towers. Although defending the anti-mosque group's rights, Willieopined that it's "always in bad taste to show the plane flying into the building." Really?
The ad was illuminating for another, chilling, reason . . .
"Uncomfortable" was the word of the day at Morning Joe when it came to discussing Michelle Obama's decision to go on a luxurious Spanish vacation in the midst of a recession—and to miss celebrating her husband's birthday with him to boot.
Chuck Todd didn't go into details, but NBC's clearly ill-at-ease political director suggested: that this was a "private decision" by the First Lady; that it wouldn't have made any difference what Pres. Obama's political advisors would have said; and that "you get the sense here that there was something more to this" than pure politics.
Joe Scarborough reinforced Todd's message: "this is part of a bigger narrative, isn't it, about Michelle Obama?"
In contrast, Mark Halperin seemed eager to get off the touchy topic. When Scarborough asked him about it, Halperin parried with a question to Todd about the positive cards the White House has to play.
Odd bit of role reversal on today's Morning Joe . . .
There was Mika Brzezinski, ripping Charlie Crist as unprincipled for his mid-campaign ditching of the Republican party. Joe Scarborough, the quondam GOP congressman from the Sunshine State, was in a much more forgiving mood, going so far as to predict that, following in Crist's footsteps, many others would successfully go the independent route.
Mika and Joe's exchange was triggered by the news that Crist's own Lieutenant Governor, Jeff Kottkamp, has endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate.
Of all networks to go on to accuse Fox News hosts of faux anger, Anthony Weiner chose MSNBC. You know, MSNBC--home to Ed Schultz, who into his mid-40s was a Republican, and who described himself as a "fresh conservative voice" in seeking a GOP congressional nomination. MSNBC. Keith Olbermann's hang-out, the man whose stagey histrionics have made him a laughingstock even at his sister network's Saturday Night Live.
Weiner made his allegation in the course of responding to Mika Brzezinski, who asked whether he regretted "losing it" on the House floor last week in a vein-popping diatribe that became an instant YouTube classic. Said Mika savvily: "Come on. You've been on television. You understand how it all works. You knew it would be all over the place. Do you regret losing it?"
An unrepentant Weiner, rather than apologizing for his televised tirade, chose to point the finger at Fox.
The Arizona immigration law on Thursday was the repeated subject of snide and belittling remarks by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe" panel. So, naturally, while discussing Wednesday's federal court ruling, New York Time's columnist Gail Collins continued the narrative.
Collins championed the federal government and sneered "You do not want state legislatures ruling these things," because basically, "They're horrible. They're all gerrymandered. They never get thrown out of office. They are all nuts!"
Appearing on The View, the president explained to Barbara Walters that he chose to come on the program because it's a show Michelle actually watches. According to PBO, the First Lady is "like eh" about news shows, grabbing the clicker [see screencap after jump] and turning away from them.
Was it really necessary for the President to dis his wife's interest in current events to explain his presence on the show? Somehow I sense that a Republican president saying something similar would come in for a heap of feminist criticism. Transcript after the jump.
Willie Geist introduced the segment on today's Morning Joe.
Striking a blow for her sex, Mika Brzezinski today claimed that the Wall Street meltdown "simply would not have happened" if more women had been in charge.
The Morning Joe co-host was reacting to news that the Dems managed to slip into the recently enacted financial regulation bill a provision--authored by Rep. Maxine Waters--that would create "at least 20 new Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion" with the power to kill government contracts with financial firms not meeting new "diversity standards."
Tina Brown seconded her sister's sentiment, blaming the financial industry's woes on "all this phallic obsession."
What's good for Wall Street is presumably good for Washington, too. Mika Brzezinski--founder of Feminists For Palin, perhaps?
On Thursday July 29th, President Barack Obama will appear on "The View." This appearance will mark the first time in history that a sitting president will be on a daytime talk show.
However this is great for the President, according to "Morning Joe" co-host Mike Barnicle who pronounced, "You know, I would be willing to bet you, I would be willing to bet you that he might get tougher questions asked of him on The View than he would at a White House press conference."
Barnicle and fellow co-host Mika Brzezinski enthused that "The View" will probe President Obama with "pertinent" and "real" questions that "resonate more with the way people live in this country."