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.
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:
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."
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.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough on Wednesday again decided to slam the Republican Party (Scarborough is a former-GOP Congressman). He chided, "My party. What happened to my party?" Democrat Co-host Mika Brzezinski made sure to notify Scarborough that, "Your party is over!"
Scarborough was astounded that some Senate Republicans are calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment regarding birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
Instead of examining the indictment or even giving a conservative viewpoint, Scarborough denounced his colleagues saying, "Instead of tearing up the Constitution of the United States, why don't we just enforce the immigration laws that are on the books right now?"
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.
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."
So there was Robert Gibbs on the White House lawn, defending to Mika Brzezinski the letter from the Obama administration saying it favored a compassionate release of the Lockerbie bomber over a prisoner transfer. Oh, wait. That wasn't the White House press secretary—it was Chuck Todd. Sorry about that. But when you view the video I think you might forgive my error. Todd certainly came across like a paid administration flack . . .
In the course of his conversation with Mika on today's Morning Joe, Todd labelled "outlandish" the depiction by the Sunday Times of London of the US position as "double-talk." As Mika continued to press the case, suggesting the US could simply have expressed its implacable opposition to any form of release, Todd complained that it was "easy to back-seat drive" the Obama admin's handling of the matter. Perhaps most laughably, Todd defended the Obama admin's "delicate" diplomacy by claiming "any administration" would have done the same and raising the what-if of another country trying to tell our government what to do. You mean, like Pres. Obama's moves to close Gitmo and take other measures weakening US national security because other countries have complained about them?
While MSNBC has spent a week or so playing the allegation of Tea Party racism in heavy rotation, on Monday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC, anchor Mika Brzezinski devoted a segment to the controversy over the New Black Panther Party’s voter intimidation. New York Times editorial writer Charles Blow denounced the group and agreed that the Justice Department needs to answer questions, but he predictably tried to argue conservatives are outrageous in suggesting the "strange logic" that Team Obama’s actions say something about Team Obama and racial justice:
The political part of it is, I think, the most inflammatory part of this. It's strange logic. The idea that the Obama administration – which is what's happening here – people are trying to tie the Obama administration to black radicalism. And that has been happening since the campaign and it continues to happen. Not everybody, but it's an electoral goal if you can tie him somehow to black radicalism. It's strange logic to think that this tiny group, he somehow benefits politically from protecting them. They have a summit the year before this voter intimidation thing came up. There were a hundred people there. There's nobody there. There's nothing to gain. In fact, there's everything to gain in prosecuting.
Mika Brzezinski wants to "cut the crap" when it comes to building speculation as to whether Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012. According to Mika, Palin's candidacy is a done deal, and the press is letting itself be sucked into a phony build-up.
Mika is so sure that Sarah is running that on today's Morning Joe she was willing to wager a dubious Jonathan Capehart $1,000. Brzezinski's comments came in response to Politico's report, highlighted by Mike Allen, that Palin has raised significant money and built a nascent campaign staff.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Are we going to go through like months and months of "will she or won't she, oh my gosh, might she?" Come on, can we please cut to the chase? Cut the crap . . . The bottom line is, let's just cut to the chase here: she is . . It's just silly. Are we really going to do this fake build-up like LeBron? . . . You guys have all been in TV too long and you're so used to the fake build-up you don't even know when you've been sucked into it.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," publisher Mort Zuckerman called the Obama administration out for being "without a doubt the most hostile administration to business and to the role of business that we've had in decades."
Panel members Mika Brzezinski and John Heilmann seemed shocked at the severity of the criticism, however.
"Where is the hostility?" John Heilmann, columnist for New York Magazine, asked with incredulity. When Zuckerman responded that the administration deals with businessmen as shady characters trying to rip off the middle class, Heilmann simply called it rhetoric.
"I don't know if that's a good use of words," show host Mika Brzezinski remarked about Zuckerman's claim of hostility.
"And in San Francisco, a ban on sugary drinks in city vending machines is starting to take effect," Brzezinski said. "That's so great. It was issued by Mayor Gavin Newsom, my new hero, Mike Barnicle -- in an effort to combat obesity and improve citizen's health, and it will. In fact, if people would just not drink soda pop, they would be healthier and less fat."
Which is the bigger story: a few power companies out West have started a pilot program to promote solar panels, or . . . police announce they will investigate allegations of sexual assault against a Nobel prize winner and former Vice-President of the United States? I'd guess most people would go with 'B.' But when it came time to highlight a story from the front page of today's Oregonian, Morning Joe went with the solar panels and ignored Gore.
I was all set to play this as a plain-vanilla case of the MSM burying unwelcome news for a Dem, when another theory occurred to me: could the Morning Joe folks actually have found a cleverly subversive way of getting the Gore story out there, perhaps against the wishes of their network overlords?
Have a look at the video of the Oregonian front page as Morning Joe displayed it during the "Morning Papers" segment [screencap after the jump].
"The media, for like five seconds, those with thrill up and down their legs, they were a little critical of the Anointed One and what was one of the worst speeches in the Oval Office... but as soon as he fired McChrystal and hired Petraeus, they went nuts," Sean Hannity observed last night at the beginning of his recurring "Media Mash" segment with NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell.
The Fox News host then rolled a montage compiled by Media Research Center (MRC) analyst Kyle Drennen which showed the mainstream media hailing Obama as "brilliant" for the personnel move.
After the montage, Bozell noted that the same media that proclaimed Obama sacking McChrystal as "brilliant" were claiming that the president really had no choice but to fire the Afghanistan commander. "If he had no choice, then it really wasn't really altogether all that brilliant," the MRC president observed.
Bozell and Hannity also discussed the media's double standard in bashing BP CEO Tony Hayward -- who had been relieved of duty for overseeing the cleanup operation -- for yachting over the weekend, while ignoring President Obama's weekend golfing excursion and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski admitting she was parroting White House talking points to defend the administration's handling of the ongoing crisis.