Over the past couple of days, MSNBC’s host Joe Scarborough has tried to dismiss the notion that his close friendship with GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump is impacting his show’s coverage of this election. This comes on the heels of a CNN report accusing Scarborough and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski of watching primary election results with Trump in his hotel room, something the celebrity billionaire alluded to the next morning on the show while describing the pair as “supporters.”
While MSNBC came to Joe’s defense with a statement — following up Scarborough’s tweets blaming the report on jealousy regarding Morning Joe’s higher ratings than CNN’s morning programs — the network acknowledged the pair did meet with Trump in his room that evening, but only for a short interview. Meanwhile, audio from a forum in November surfaced where Scarborough bragged about giving Trump debate advice and political tips.
While anyone who has watched Morning Joe over the past seven months knows that the show has taken a very pro-Trump bent, it is the blatancy of Joe’s bromance with The Donald recently that has really drawn the ire of his NBC News colleagues. As Dylan Byers reported, many real journalists and reporters at the network feel Scarborough is doing significant damage their credibility by endlessly promoting Trump.
In background discussions, NBC News and MSNBC journalists, reporters and staffers said there was widespread discomfort at the network over Scarborough’s friendship with Trump and his increasingly favorable coverage of the candidate.
“People don’t like that Joe is promoting Trump,” one MSNBC insider said. Others described Scarborough’s admiration for Trump as “over the top” and “unseemly.”
Four of those sources also said that the growing media scrutiny over the two men’s relationship has caused the network’s leadership to more closely monitor Scarborough’s comments. “The higher-ups are definitely aware about what’s going on,” said another person within MSNBC. “It’s an issue.”
Scarborough and NBC News declined to comment for this article. “Morning Joe,” which airs weekday mornings, is followed closely by Washington and New York’s political and media influencers, and is seen as a key platform for political figures.
Both Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski are close friends with Trump and members of his family. Scarborough, a former four-term congressman from Florida’s 1st district, has often stayed at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida, with his family and was there during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, two sources at the hotel during that time said.
And therein lies the big issue with the show itself, and with cable news ‘journalism’, especially the type MSNBC has been trending towards in the past few months. Morning Joe is the program for the ‘insiders’ and movers-and-shakers in Washington. It is meant for the elite who attend cocktail parties and pass favors back and forth. Joe is perfectly comfortable giving someone favorable coverage as long as it leads to more access, a potential political position and other perks.
While viewers have openly complained about the wall-to-wall Trump lovefest that is Morning Joe for some time now, and media critics have taken the show to task, it is interesting that network staffers are now grousing. My guess is this has been going on for a while, but at this point they are willing to bitch to a rival’s reporter in the hopes of finally getting something done.