Fifteen years ago, NBC morning superstar Katie Couric uncorked one of the lamest jokes in network history by suggesting when gas neared $3 a gallon "It’s ridiculous. I had to take out a loan to fill up my minivan." She had an eight-figure annual income.
On Thursday, this shtick popped up again on Morning Joe when Willie Geist cracked to Al Sharpton about Mayor Bill de Blasio having "Black Lives Matter" painted on 5th Avenue right in front of Trump Tower:
"Rev, guys like you and I can't necessarily shop on 5th Avenue. We just look into the windows and hope someday we can."
Yeah, because Willie's reported salary of $5 million doesn't go as far as it used to. As for Al, check out the Rev's threads: they don't look like they came off the rack at Walmart. The New York Post reported in 2019 Sharpton drew more than a million from his group National Action Network, not counting his MSNBC nickels.
Geist, subbing for Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Thursday's Morning Joe, noted that Fifth Avenue will be closed for several days as a result of the mayor's stunt. Nobody was going to suggest on MSNBC that the major was street-trolling the president. Nobody might suggest that it could be painted on the street a few blocks down, behind Rockefeller Center, to nudge more diversity out of NBC and MSNBC.
Instead, Sharpton gushed "it'll be an extraordinary sight and an appropriate sight."
How many working people will have their schedules disrupted? And isn't de Blasio supposedly so concerned about the environment? How much additional fossil fuel will be burned if traffic jams and diversions result?
I like Willie, but c'mon: no more poor-mouthing, please. It's actually an insult to the hard-working people who truly can't afford to shop on Fifth.
Here's the transcript.
6:31 am EDT
WILLIE GEIST: About 30 minutes from now, New York City will begin painting a Black Lives Matter mural at the foot of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. The painting is set to begin, as I said, in less than an hour and most likely will keep Fifth Avenue closed for several days.
President Trump, as you'll remember, weighed in on the mural just over a week ago, writing on Twitter, "New York City is cutting police money by $1 billion, and yet the mayor is going to paint a big, expensive yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury avenue," as he wrote. "Maybe our great police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates and disrespects them won't let this symbol of hate be affixed to NYC's greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead."
Mayor Bill de Blasio responded, writing "Black people built Fifth Avenue, and so much of this nation. Your luxury came from their labor, for which they have never been justly compensated. We are honoring them. The fact that you see it as denigrating your stree is the definition of racism. There is no symbol of hate here, just a commitment to truth."
Reverend Sharpton, we’ve of course seen these murals across the country, including on the street leading up to the White House in Washington D.C. But as someone who's walked those streets for many years, and been to Trump Tower, that will be extraordinary sight this morning to see the words Black Lives Matter right in front of that famous Trump building.
AL SHARPTON: Certainly it'll be an extraordinary sight and an appropriate sight. I remember leading a big march down Fifth Avenue around the police killing of Sean Bell in the middle of Christmas, because we wanted to get the attention of the business elite and the business corridor in the city around the fact that police abuse was going on. So I think this gives a permanence to that.
. . .
GEIST: Rev, guys like you and I can’t necessarily shop on Fifth Avenue. We just look into the windows and hope someday we can.