MSNBC hosts rarely attack their own network's news judgment on air. But Joe Scarborough just had to come up with a new way to slam Donald Trump. Sure, there's the tried-and-true standby of calling him a fascist. But viewers also want fresh material!
So, why not associate Trump with someone held civilly responsible for two gruesome knife murders? On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough fumed over the extensive coverage the media gave to Trump's arrival in his jet at LaGuardia yesterday for his arraignment in Manhattan today. In Joe's opinion, Trump benefited from tens of millions of dollars of free advertising.
Scarborough twice likened the coverage of Trump's arrival to that which the media accorded to O.J. Simpson's lengthy slow-motion white SUV car chase. Trump has not been accused of murder, and he was not filmed on the highway in the act of refusing to surrender to authorities like Simpson in 1994.
Other journalists also made this sloppy comparison, as Tim Graham tweeted about the NPR show Here &Now.
It's certainly a heady brew of chutzpah for Scarborough to accuse someone else at MSNBC of overdoing Trump coverage and granting him all sorts of free media. He acknowledged it, as if he's much wiser now. "We, of course, made so many mistakes in the 2015 and 2016. So we say that with all too, too, too much knowledge of how much Trump manipulates the news cycles."
That was an allusion to their very cozy relationship at the time. Not only was Trump a frequent Morning Joe call-in guest, but Scarborough, who spoke of his "friendship" with Trump, actually acted as an informal adviser to candidate Trump.
That friendship came to a screeching halt in 2017, when Trump made a series of tweets insulting Mika Brzezinski. Trump also suggested that Scarborough might have been responsible for the death of an aide to the then-Congressman. Scarborough has been on a vendetta against Trump ever since.
They could take this up with the bosses internally, right? But this has the flavor of sucking up to the audience -- as in "yeah, we're going to milk this for the ratings, because you know you can't stop watching Trump! Even if you hate it!"
At one point, commenting on the extensive coverage of Trump's arrival, Mika plaintively noted that President Biden "was traveling places, too!"
Mika, if Hunter Biden and/or the "Big Guy" are ever indicted, we hope and expect that the media will offer similarly extensive coverage of that as well. But we won't bet the Starbucks gift card on Morning Joe.
Here's the transcript.
MSNBC's Morning Joe
6:13 am EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Willie, a lot to talk about. I've got a lot to talk about regarding the O.J. chase that was shown on TV for 12 hours yesterday.
WILLIE GEIST: Yeah.
SCARBOROUGH: We'll get to basketball first, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to say something about that.
SCARBOROUGH: And listen, I say this knowing, first of all, that everybody at every network, I'm sure they do the best they can do and you make a judgment call when it's live. And, you know, we, we, of course, made so many mistakes in the 2015 and 2016. So we say that with all too, too, too much knowledge of how much Trump manipulates the news cycles. Just as he did when he put out a tweet a couple of Sundays ago that the entire world chased for a couple of weeks. Well, yesterday we, we saw Trump plane landing at LaGuardia for, you know, what, looked like 20 minutes. It was a shot that looked like space shuttle Challenger, or something like that, or Columbia returning. And it just, we were on it, every network was on it forever. And then it lands, and we're on the Trump plane. And we gave the guy, Willie, I would guess 40 to 50 million dollars of earned media. And, and, and we saw baggage handlers, we saw people walking on and off the plane. While on top of it, everybody's just saying things that we all know.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Like, President Biden was traveling places, too!
SCARBOROUGH: It was just outrageous! We saw baggage handlers for 30 minutes! And you know what Trump's doing while that's going on. We'll have Lemire jump in in a second. He's got the TV screens up, so he goes, I'm just going to stay here because they're showing my plane, they're showing my logo.
SCARBOROUGH: They're showing the American flag. And I am trouncing everybody in earned media, and it's not costing me a dime.
JONATHAN LEMIRE: We do see the media potentially making some of the mistakes that it made in 2016. We need to be doing a better job—all of us!—going forward.
SCARBOROUGH: [The story of Trump's indictment is] extraordinarily important, but doing three hours of hero shots? And if he walks down to the courthouse, seriously, anybody that takes that live is just -- you, you, you need to report in-kind contributions to the Donald Trump campaign against Ron DeSantis, because you're just providing hero shots for a guy that's going to get indicted. Do what you do normally: get him going into the courthouse, get him going out of the courthouse. It doesn't have to be the O.J. Bronco chase, and that's what we had yesterday. And, God, I hope it's not what we, we have today. Because the story should be covered, all right, but the story should be IIIcovered, not Donald Trump's setup setting you up.
SCARBOROUGH: Which, again -- again, we, we've been criticized a lot for our coverage in 2015 and 2016. We take that on our shoulders. We, we, we learned from it. And I would hope the media would learn from it, too.