Is the cat fight a strictly feminine affair, or can a man and woman engage in one? Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski certainly seemed to offer up a fair facsimile of the genre today. The two traded feline fisticuffs on Morning Joe.
Scarborough went first, swiping at Katie Couric for having cavorted on a Miami beach with her beau before departing for Egypt. Mika later retaliated, archly musing about the number of Limbaugh's marriages during a segment featuring Elton John's comments on El Rushbo.
"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski broke from the panel discussion Tuesday and implored Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to close the state's so-called gun show loophole. The MSNBC panel was discussing lax gun show laws allowing persons to purchase semi-automatic guns with little or no background check performed on them.
Brzezinski, seemingly abandoning journalism in favor of advocacy, tersely asked Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on camera to close the state's gun show loophole. "Just close the loophole. Governor Bob McDonnell," Brzezinski pleaded, staring into the camera as she singled out the state's chief executive.
Virginia law presently allows private transactions at gun shows to be completed without paperwork. Federal law mandates licenced gun sellers to perform background checks on buyers; private sellers are not obliged by the state to do so.
With Republicans taking control of Congress, those in the media suddenly feel that proposing legislation, such as repealing ObamaCare, is a waste of time. From CBS's Harry Smith referring to it as "a fool's errand" to MSNBC's Chuck Todd fretting over the GOP "relitigating health care," here is a video compilation of the slanted coverage this proposal has received.
Tuesday's "Morning Joe" panel on MSNBC played the class warfare card, highlighting tension between the American middle class and the richest Americans who profit from the global economy. Impassioned co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski gave credence to middle class frustration at the widening gap between them and the ultra-rich.
The Atlantic magazine's editor-in-chief James Bennett referenced a poll touting that 60 percent of Americans advocate higher taxes for the wealthy as the best solution to the budget crisis. "I think part of that is a response to the sense that they're being left behind by these people," Bennet explained.
Bennet pointed out top hedge fund managers making over a billion dollars a year, and suggested Americans would like to see more of that money back. "You'd think," huffed Mika Brzezinski. "Good luck getting it from them," Joe Scarborough warned. Scarborough was a critic of the recent tax deal between Obama and the GOP, arguing that millionaires did not need the tax cuts as much as the country needed their tax revenue to pay down the deficit.
Monday's "Morning Joe" panel on MSNBC mocked the House Republicans' plan to vote to repeal President Obama's health care legislation in full. "Waste of time" and "meaningless legislative exercise" were some of the phrases used to describe the first announced GOP priority.
"It's going to take them fifteen minutes, they're going to vote to repeal it, and the Senate's not going to do it," explained co-host Joe Scarborough. "It is a meaningless legislative exercise, but you know what? The base will like it."
"Republicans in Washington are planning to waste some time. Is anyone surprised by that?" co-host Mika Brzezinski tersely introduced the segment in the 7 a.m. EDT news hour.
Both Scarborough and Brzezinski sarcastically mocked the plan. "Good for them. Thank you," Brzezinski spat. "You are big men," she derided the House Republicans. "You so tough," Scarborough chimed in, followed by Brzezinski making strange growling noises.
Suggesting that Nicolle Wallace engaged in feline fisticuffs might be called sexist. But when Wallace actually accused Sarah Palin of seeking to "claw" critics, illustrating her assertion with a cat-like hand gesture, well . . .
It's no secret that Wallace is no fan of Sarah Palin. But the former Bush communications director and McCain campaign aide perhaps took things to another level with her attack on Palin on today's Morning Joe. Wallace was on to comment on Joe Scarborough's astonishing claim of yesterday, noted here, that "all" conservatives and talk radio hosts with whom he's spoken are harshly critical of Palin off the record, but are afraid to express their views publicly.
Wallace opined that if it ever looked as if Palin were close to copping the Republican presidential nomination, many GOP leaders who have to date been too timid to criticize her would step forward to expose Palin's putative shortcomings. In the course of propounding her theory, Wallace unleashed a hail of criticism of her own:
"Mistakes were made [by McCain in choosing Palin]."
"Her troubling deficiencies."
"Her incredible cynicism, her bitterness, her aggressive attempts to claw [makes clawing hand-gesture] anyone" who criticizes her.
Today's Politico piece takes Scarborough’s swipes a quantum leap further [see examples after jump]. But what makes this morning’s diatribe truly remarkable is Joe's repeated claim that "all" Republican leaders and conservative talk radio hosts with whom he's spoken have—off the record—agreed with his criticism of Palin.
Columnist Mike Barnicle had some pointed words on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Tuesday for travelers exasperated with the new TSA airport scanning procedures: "Take the train or take the bus."
"Here's a tip for travelers this Thanksgiving," the "Morning Joe" regular remarked Tuesday. "If you're upset about this at airports, take the train or take the bus." He added later in the show "Hop in your car and drive to Detroit," as another alternative for air travel.
Barnicle, continuing his rant from Monday, lamented that Americans are so upset with the controversial security procedures when the U.S. is involved in two wars and real unemployment stands at 15 percent. "This again, if we ever needed it, is proof-positive that we live in a time where we have such a limited attention-span as a nation, it is sickening," he preached. "We're now more afraid at airports, apparently, of being felt-up rather than blown-up in the air."
"Are you telling them to 'keep calm and carry on' in the White House?" MSNBC's Joe Scarborough supportively asked the Vice President of the United States on Friday morning. "Morning Joe" hosted Joe Biden, but skipped the more embarrassing subjects: the recent trial fiasco of terrorist Ahmed Ghailani and the ethics charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel.
The topics of conversation ranged from the START Treaty to the "stimulus" bill to Sarah Palin – the MSNBC crew all laughed at her claim that she could beat Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential race – but Scarborough changed subjects toward the end and asked Biden about the demonizing of presidents once they enter office.
"As you know...at least since Clinton was elected, the second a President gets elected, the other side tries to de-legitimize that president from day one," Scarborough claimed. "You've seen that from the outside since early '93. Have you been shocked since you got on the inside at just how tough it is?" he asked Biden.
The co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" pleaded with the Secretary of Transportation Tuesday for federally mandated devices in cars that would scramble cell phone reception, as well as for raising the driving age nationwide to 18.
Calling himself a "small-government conservative," Scarborough said that he nevertheless supports a device in cars that would scramble cell phone reception while the car is in operation. Co-host Mika Brzezinski added that such a device was the only way to stop distracted-driving accidents.
"I can hear the battle coming, because we've got Chris Licht who's our E.P....when Mika was talking about disabling devices, said 'Yeah, well great, that's all we need, the federal government telling us when we can use our phones in cars'," Scarborough quipped, calling out his executive producer live on the set.
"Well I-I do actually want the federal government...I don't want my kids run over by a distracted driver. It seems to me that if the technology is there, we should – stop the texting, scramble it," Scarborough asserted.
An hour after the panel on the November 1 edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" glorified the show's sanity and stability in the midst of a polarized news media environment, co-host Mika Brzezinski snidely blurted out that Sarah Palin is quite lost on reality in her possible 2012 presidential aspirations.
"There's a thing called Kool-Aid, and if you drink too much of it you become less self-aware. I'm just saying," Mika snarled.
When co-host Joe Scarborough asked whether or not Sarah Palin was running for President in 2012, Mika thought she would, and that "she can't help herself."
Columnist Mike Barnicle disagreed, saying that Palin is "making too much money" and "having too much fun." He added that "she'd be a gift to the White House if she did."
The White House is opening a press bureau in New York City at 30 Rock – or so it seemed with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski parroting the administration's talking points, one after the other, on today's "Morning Joe."
Brzezinski has mentioned in the past that the White House e-mails her during segments, and she seemed thoroughly briefed by the middle of Tuesday's show.
When Politico's executive editor Jim VandeHei explained that frustrated big business donors have been giving to the Republicans under a cloak of anonymity thanks to the Citizens United ruling, Mika retorted with the White House's argument.
"Jim, what the White House will say, though, is that the reason why the big business is hostile at this point is because they've taken them on, and they've put some rules in place that they're maybe not that comfortable with," Mika answered. "[They will say] this White House has done something actually to try and fix the system."
President Obama has accomplished so much during his tenure with so little gratitude from the American people, lamented the Monday panel for MSNBC's "Morning Joe." What is to blame? Poor marketing by the White House, the panelists answered.
"Where is the celebration over what has been done and accomplished in the face of all this anger and vitriol in Washington?" complained co-host Mika Brzezinski. "No credit. No credit at all for what he's accomplished," lamented "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.
Like something from the novel Frankenstein, Stahl cast Obama's rescue of the economy as a doctor saving the life of a horrible burn victim. "He saves the guy's life – this is our economy...but the guy wakes up and he's got scars all over his face, and that's all he sees, that's all anybody sees," she described.
"And how – what's the doctor supposed to say? And that's what [Obama] is fighting, he's fighting an economy that just won't give him anything."
So after so much has been accomplished, why are the Democrats not campaigning on the Obama agenda?
MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell and Mika Brzezinski believe the Republicans should be open and transparent about the interest group sources of their campaign money, even though Democrats play by the same rules and don't have to reveal their sources.
Their reasoning was that the GOP has pulled in 40 to 50 million dollars more than the Democrats have from interest groups this campaign season. The MSNBC colleagues made their points on Monday's "Morning Joe."
"Citizens United allows non-transparent donations to be made. We don't know what's being given to these groups," O'Donnell warned. "You talked about how much Wall Street has donated to President Barack Obama, but we know about it. It was disclosed."
"Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough countered that the same applies for Democrat interest groups.
Gee, I wonder which "cable news show" Joe had in mind . . .
In a seeming shot at Keith Olbermann, Joe Scarborough has predicted that "certain cable news shows" will stir up a "fake controversy" tonight over whether Sarah Palin was booed on Dancing With The Stars [she wasn't].
Here's the background: Bristol Palin performed on DWTS last night, and Sarah was there in the front row to support her. Jennifer Grey [of Dirty Dancing fame] also competed last night. Her backers in the audience began to boo when her scores, which they judged to be too low, were announced. That happened just before the show cut to an interview with Sarah Palin. Some have tried to suggest that the audience was booing Palin. But the crowd in fact cheered when Sarah appeared, and as Willie Geist said "my staff and I have studied the tape. They were not booing [Palin]."
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."
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" has recently delivered some strange messages of bipartisanship and moderation to its viewers. These included lecturing would-be Koran-burner Florida pastor Terry Jones on loving one's neighbor before cutting him off without opportunity to answer, and showcasing a "Bipartisan Health Challenge" – a group of politicians and journalists walking three kilometers around the National Mall to promote fitness and bipartisanship.
The MSNBC morning show featured a slightly odd segment Monday – which Newsbusters' Mark Finkelstein first reported on – echoing New York City Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to support moderate political candidates and combat angry political messages from fringe candidates. The "Morning Joe" crew seemed to fully endorse Mayor Bloomberg's message,attacking "political extremists who are dominating the airwaves."
Of course, the extremists the brew crew has in mind are conservatives such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who compared putting a mosque near Ground Zero with a Nazi sign displayed near a Holocaust memorial.
In a strange departure from Morning Joe's typical spontaneity, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski issued what was clearly a scripted, teleprompted, manifesto this morning. The statement purported to be non-partisan condemnation of "angry voices" and a call, citing a WWII poster, to "keep calm and carry on." But even a cursory analysis reveals that the manifesto's message suits Dem themes to a 'T', and carries clear echoes of a recent partisan speech by Pres. Obama at a political event.
The manifesto amounted to a condemnation of the "angry voices" and the "political extremists" who, claimed Scarborough, "are dominating the airwaves and dominating the national debate." But at this juncture in American political history, the anger is understandably more present on the right. The Dems, after all, control both houses of Congress and the White House, and have used their power to promote a big-government agenda on everything from health care to trillion dollar spending schemes to higher taxes. You're darn right we're angry! In instructing us to calm down, Joe and Mika are really seeking to sap the vitality from the political movement that threatens to sweep Dems from office.
Mika Brzezinski is no poker face, regularly letting her feelings show as she reacts to the stories of the day. But when it comes to emoting, the Morning Joe co-host outdid herself today, reacting to the criticism the panel leveled at Jimmy Carter for his ungracious bashing of the late Ted Kennedy.
In a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, a clip from which Morning Joe aired, an embittered Carter flatly says the failure to get national health care during his administration was Ted Kennedy's "fault." Carter accused Kennedy of "deliberately blocking" Carter's proposed legislation, in order to deny him a major legislative achievement.
Mika, daughter of Carter's National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, has a history of defending Carter on the show. Check the video as Mika grimaces in discomfort, and interjects various rebuttals, as her fellow panelists unload on the 39th president.
Last Friday Mika Brzezinski and Morning Joe engaged in some strange and possibly unprecedented TV "journalism." They invited Terry Jones—the potentially Koran-burning pastor—on the show via live feed, gave former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham the chance to lecture him about Christianity and implore him not to proceed with his plan . . . then summarily cut the feed without giving Jones the chance to say word one in response.
"We don't really need to hear anything else" declared Mika, as she shut down the pastor's microphone.
A number of bloggers, including NB's own Matt Hadro and me, noted and criticized Mika's bizarre move. But there was Joe Scarborough on the show today, mockingly writing off Mika's critics as "crazy people."
In what had to be the ultimate in condescension and elitism, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" brought Pastor Terry Jones on the show merely to lecture him on Christianity, cutting him off before he could even respond. Co-host Mika Brzezinski explained to him "we don't really need to hear anything else, so thanks." Newsbusters' Mark Finkelstein first briefly reported on this segment this morning.
Panel member Jon Meacham, the departing editor of Newsweek, briefly preached to Pastor Jones on Jesus' New Testament message of love and forgiveness and then appealed to him "as a fellow Christian" to not follow through with his threats to burn the Koran. Then, before Pastor Jones responded, his live feed was cut and co-host Mika Brzezinski continued with the show, saying that they did not need to listen to Pastor Jones.
"The central message of the New Testament is forgiveness, and to put oneself in the place of another," Meacham lectured Pastor Jones on planning to burn copies of the Koran. "And so I would simply appeal to you, as a fellow Christian, that the course you suggested is going to be incredibly dangerous, and would ask you to desist in the name of New Testament theology."
Both Pat Buchanan and Donny Deutsch have advocated the arrest of Pastor Terry Jones to prevent his possible burning of Korans and the danger to US troops such act would threaten. The paleo-conservative and the New York liberal made common cause on today's Morning Joe. They were outnumbered by Mika Brzezinski, Dan Senor and John Heilemann, all of whom opposed the arrest-the-pastor proposal on First Amendment grounds. Buchanan and Deutsch expressed disregard for the First Amendment implications.
Buchanan asserted that if Pres. Obama were to follow his advice, conservatives would support him and his popularity would zoom 10% overnight.
"Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio rang alarm bells about child obesity on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday, saying it is now a "national health crisis." Colicchio warned that the recent Senate school lunch legislation did not go "far enough" and that access to healthy school meals needs to be increased for kids to save future health care costs.
"It's a pretty good bill, but I don't think it goes far enough," the chef complained of the school lunch bill. "They need to increase access for kids."
"After-school programs, after-school periods, breakfast programs, weekend programs, summer programs – those aren't included in the Senate bill; they're included in the House bill," Colicchio mused. "Obesity has become a national health crisis." He said the problem poses "billions" of dollars in future health care costs if it will not be addressed properly.
"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski, a nutrition-warrior herself, agreed and argued that obese children need to be viewed as victims – as children "whose future is cut short before it even starts."
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."
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."
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.