Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
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Mika touched things off with a news item about the Olympic torch.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The Olympic torch is now in the final stages of its tour around the world.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yao!
BRZEZINSKI: Crowds in Beijing cheered as basketball star Yao Ming carried the torch through Tiananmen Square.
SCARBOROUGH: What a lovely square!
BRZEZINSKI: And a reminder.
SCARBOROUGH: What a lovely history!
WILLIE GEIST: [Unintelligible] the tanks.
SCARBOROUGH: Are the tanks still there?
Mika continued as an Olympic clarion call played in the background.
BRZEZINSKI: Listen, listen. do you hear? What do you hear?
SCARBOROUGH: [imitating authoritarian public-address voice]: Clear Tiananmen Square now!
As an image rolled of the Olympic Stadium bathed in smog, Mika was actually the first to
start coughing, with Joe joining in.
BRZEZINSKI: [cough, cough, cough]
SCARBOROUGH: [Still in PA mode] Move that bike!
BRZEZINSKI: And a reminder. On Friday night, NBC will --
SCARBOROUGH: Move that bike!
BRZEZINSKI: -- broadcast [cough] the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics beginning at 7:30 Eastern, 6:30 Central, that's about a half-hour earlier than what your TV listings may show.
As Joe continued to cough . . .
BRZEZINSKI: You're fired.
BRZEZINSKI: Stop it. It's funny once, it's funny once.
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, I was in L.A. in; 76, that ain't that much worse than L.A. in '76.
BRZEZINSKI: I don't think we should do that. We're going to get a phone call.