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Thursday, October 27, 2016

For those few who don’t rise with the sun to watch Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and their revolving cast of journalistic characters on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “What I Learned Today” is how the show often concludes — as everyone stands before the cameras and recites a 10-second lesson gleaned from the discussion. Not having stayed on set until the end during my appearance today, I can only offer here what I learned there.

As a former Republican congressman, Joe Scarborough is a past master of fake indignation, so it is wise to be careful with jokes (and historical quotes).

There is simply no possibility that Joe, who generously noted that we are “friends” before I left the set, believes I called him “a Nazi” or would ever do so.

My joke was to cite a famous quote from Winston Churchill, “The Hun is always at your throat or at your feet,” which of course doesn’t include the word Nazi. But failing to recall that the wartime prime minister uttered those words in a 1943 speech to Congress, I assumed that the use of the word “Hun” indicated an earlier period, when that term was much more in usage.

Checking afterwards, I found video of Churchill’s speech and the text of the full quote: “The proud German army has by its sudden collapse, sudden crumbling and breaking up, unexpected to all of us, the proud German army has once again proves the truth of the saying ‘The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.'”

Which at least suggests that the “saying” derived from an earlier conflict with Germany, as I had assumed. Still, I must admit that I got the date wrong.

Knowing that I would never call him a Nazi, or any other vile insult, Joe nevertheless “exploded” — and then filibustered over my supposed offense to his honor for much of my remaining airtime. (Another lesson is that Joe has little interest in exploring topics I tried to discuss despite multiple interruptions, like the double standard applied to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email address, which provokes far greater outrage than Colin Powell’s precisely similar conduct – except that Powell destroyed all of his emails, of course, including the official ones about Iraq’s WMD. Or the Bush White House’s private email addresses and unlawful email wipes, which involved millions of messages, some possibly concerning crimes.)

So why did I think that Churchill quote was funny?

Listening to Joe describe Bill and Hillary Clinton with such insults as “corrupt” during an earlier segment, I decided to remind him of his broadcasts from Clinton Global Initiative, where — like many other media figures who now eviscerate Bill and Hillary and all their works — he publicly paid homage to the former president.

Keeping in mind that Joe once voted to impeach Clinton, and now attacks both Clintons almost every day, Churchill’s observation seemed profoundly and amusingly apt.

At the 2010 CGI session, for instance, Joe’s praise for President Clinton during their interview was extravagant enough to disturb some of his Republican viewers. The right-wing Newsbusters website huffed disapprovingly that Joe sounded as if he actually wishes Clinton could run for his old job again, disparaging the 22nd Amendment that forbids a third term. The website described the interview as “a slobbering love fest for the former president” and highlighted several of the host’s most glowing remarks:

“Listening to you talk right now, you’ve always been known as the brightest, the first-class, however you want to put it – but you’ve had the ability the past decade to go all around the world, start this initiative, understand issues – you’ve understood issues better than anyone in Washington, when you were president….

“We go out and give speeches all across the country, and sometimes to progressive crowds, and I always start with when I ran in ’94, I couldn’t stand Bill Clinton’s image on TV! And they’ll all rustle out there. I’ll say ‘I came up to Washington, DC,’ and I’ll go through this, and as I explain the story away, well, he didn’t really like us that much, either.

“But look what we accomplished together. Look what we – we learned. I learned so much from those five years, and they were tough, tough years for you, and for Hillary, and for a lot of people…We balanced the budget four years – for four years, the first time that happened since the 1920s, reformed welfare, created 22 million new jobs. And those were two sides that didn’t exactly love each other.

“Could you explain to Washington, DC, on both sides – how did you do that? How did you rise above it? How did everybody learn to work together, even if they fought each other like hell?”

Clinton replied, “Well first of all, you’ve got to know the difference between something that’s real and something that’s show.”

And that’s what I learned from today’s Morning Joe.

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • AJinNYC

    The past couple of months I have been more interested in watching in the mornings TWC or CNBC than MSNBC for these very reasons. Scarborough on occasion goes the full “maverick” but for the most part he still recites the GOP talking points but instead of word for word he parses them so they sound fair. At the end of the day, he is still a straight up and down party guy.

  • joyfulmeme

    Anyone who watches on occasion knows that Joe does not allow honest debate. He always browbeats the panel & will not let any panel member ask a R a hard question. His morning tirades are ugly.

    • Theodora30

      And he constantly interrupts and brow eats Mika who writes books about women asserting themselves. Mika needs to learn that her actions – trying to be polite and keep the peace – speak a lot louder than any words she may put in a book.

  • avojen

    I just sat through those painful 11 minutes of false indignation and buffoonery and I have no idea, sir, how you did not get up and walk out. On the plus side you have now gained another avid follower.

    • FT66

      Joe Conason is a gentleman. He couldn’t got up and walk out because he didn’t want to become news afterwards. But we have seen a lot in different shows, unfixing their microphone, throwing it to the host and find their way out.

  • Wertheim Comm

    It would be easy for me to advise you to “choose your friends more wisely,” but what would that accomplish at this late date?

    I can well understand why some folks who appear on the show teeter on the edge of obsequiousness simply to avoid any appearance they are formally challenging Joe for fear of a blowup.

    The tape of your visit can be valuable learning material for any future appearance. You will know then that you will not be engaging in any type of fair fight. He will again interrupt you, then complain if you try to interject or correct an obvious blunder.

    Joe is very simply a bully. He just tries to run over his perceived opponent. The model that can be used to take him apart can be discovered by watching old episodes of “Columbo” who always caught his opponent in a trap by letting them underestimate him. He would let them talk, then say “I’m sorry, I’m just simple soul, and there is just one thing that I don’t understand. Can you explain it to me?”

    When told, “Explain what lieutenant?” He might respond by saying: “Well, every e-mail we receive has to come from somewhere right? And, every e-mail we send has to go somewhere right? Why can’t we just go to these places and get the e-mails Hillary sent or received that way?”

  • grettalulu

    I saw every second of Joe Scarborough’s attack on Joe Conason on 5/20 and was appalled. It was absolutely a case of faux indignation, of jumping on the chance to pretend to have been insulted and offended, in order to justify Scarborough’s release of his Mr. Hyde, who apparently feels he does not get out enough. Scarborough’s totally rotten disposition often ruins the entire show and would ruin my morning if I didn’t turn it off. I can’t stand all the silliness of GMA and Today, but I want something visual, something more “present” than radio. But as it is in real life, it’s really better to just be alone than to settle for the company of an snarling bully.

  • Donna Tara Lee

    Joe could be getting ready to run for President. since he has alluded to it over the last 6 months he has gotten obnoxous to any progressive guest he has had. Give up the show, Joe, and join the clown car. You will be a good fit with the other idiots in it.

  • FT66

    I also watched the show. It was disgusting watching Scarborough the way he treated Joe Conason. Scarborough don’t know how to treat guests they invite to their show. A guest is always a guest and must be treated in a very high manner, otherwise they won’t come back again to the show and leave Scarborough and Mika debate between themselves. MSNBC needs to do a major reshuffle so that we the watchers, can take MSNBC as a serious news outlet.

  • Ann-Marie Poli

    For the record, I stopped watching that insipid, sophomoric clown a long time ago, and the only reason I put it on was to hear Joe Conason. Of course all I got to hear was Joe crying, “You called me a Nazi, gotcha!” Best thing we can do is not feed that morning joke MSNBC has going on. Mr. Conason, resist the temptation to appear on his show, I will resist the temptation to turn it on if you acquiesce, and let’s let that cankor heal and go away. The more we pick at it, we keep the pain alive.

  • Darsan54

    So my take away is everything Scarborough says is probably a lie to some degree and he shouldn’t ever be taken seriously.

  • jamesowens

    as with all the conservative speakers when a guest speaks up against you talk louder – be rude and do not acknowledge their replys.

  • plc97477

    I see scarborough as a very angry and bitter guy. I understand why being the only idiot on an intelligent station could cause that but we don’t have to watch him.

  • kungfuwomn

    And rumor is Joe is more of what MSNBC wants to keep on their network?Joe hinted months ago that the network could be changing lineup which i got that people who think like joe may take over more of the timeslots which will make me stop watching!With CNN leaning more to the right and we know were faux news is MSNBC is really the only cable network that progressives can turn to for mostly real news.They would be stupid to clone joe scarborough type anchors they will just turn off the audience they have left.

  • Godzilla

    Maybe what can be learned is that welfare reform did NOT create one single job what so ever. The delusions of the Left have now bounds, utter bullshit.

    • toptwome

      It was not to create jobs. It was more to get people off Welfare. It was supposed to help people with food and with education to be able to find work. The lies and hate that the republicans have for the poor is extremely un-Christian and shows how they love that one percent but not the people who they have so much disdain for.

  • Floridatexan

    I live in Scarborough’s old district…can’t stand the guy, and I wonder why anyone listens to the bilious pond scum.

  • toptwome

    He is a republican and no should ever doubt that he will be fair and impartial about anything concerning a Democrat who has more intelligence and moral character than he does. I like MSNBC but not Morning Joe. I know that Mika Brzezinski is grateful for her job, but I hate for her to have to listen to Joe’s spiteful attacks against Hillary Clinton.

  • Missyrocks

    I’ve watched the show for around seven years and I’m done. Actually, that visit of yours was the last straw. The gang of wolves against you as you attempted to say two words was beyond. It appears they’ve taken the tact that they need to be anti-Hillary every day, for about two hours of the three. They will also only criticize the GOP candidates they know will not win. I never minded him ranting in the past because the show was even handed. If I just turned on the show and didn’t know better, I’d have absolutely thought it was Fox. For months now. It’s just like all the other Fox shows with Dem guests getting screamed over and not being allowed a word edgewise. I don’t understand what MSNBC is doing. I think they are attempting to be more like CNN in purposely going after Hillary with a barrage of nothing but negative stories in the hopes of getting a reputation now as less progressive. That will never work just as a Dem losing to a GOP candidate tries desperately to lurch right to win and fails. Clearly, Joe is out to use his show to try to get a GOP President- but I cannot understand why MSNBC is alienating its core audience in joining him.