MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski on Trump and Why ‘Everyone’ Should Ban Kellyanne Conway From TV

Joe Scarborough Mika Brzezinski
Jesse Dittmar/Redux

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski long ago put to rest the notion that morning shows had to be fluffy and light to gain traction among the toast-and-orange juice crowd. Their “Morning Joe,” co-hosted with Willie Geist, has become an MSNBC must-stop for anyone seeking to divine how Washington works — or doesn’t.

As the team approaches a decade on the air, however, its hosts have generated some controversy. Do they support President Trump or oppose him, and what does that mean for how their program is perceived? In an interview last week, Brzezinski and a vacationing Scarborough held forth, trading responses as Scarborough called in via smart phone and Brzezinski worked her way through a quick bowl of Cheerios – and then power-walked through the stairs and hallways of NBCUniversal’s New York headquarters to get back to the set. Their rapport and interest in a more intellectual discussion of politics has brought a windfall to their cable-news network. Season to date as of February 26, viewership for “Morning Joe” among people between 25 and 54  – the audience most coveted by advertisers – was up a little over 64%.  Below, in edited remarks, Scarborough and Brzezinski explain why they think the current administration will keep watching, no matter what they say on their show:

Let’s address the obvious question. In recent broadcasts, you’ve taken the president and his staff to task. But for several weeks before that, you were like the insiders who were guiding us through the Tao of Trump. What happened?

Mika Brzezinski: Well, we are still insiders; we talk to everybody there. And we are still trying to guide people through it, and understand it ourselves. I think that your analysis is a little broad. If you look at the campaign coverage, and you actually look at the words that Joe said, and the words that I said in the run-up to the campaign — and even in the first few weeks after the election — you will see we were incredibly tough on Trump. Nobody said tougher things about Donald Trump than Joe, who said ‘I would never vote for anybody – anybody – who has a Muslim ban who does what Trump just said.’ He literally said he’s not voting for him.

Candidate Trump was a frequent visitor on “Morning Joe,” here at Java Joe’s CoffeeHouse in Des Moines, Iowa, last January. REUTERS/Newscom

Joe Scarborough: This guy has been our friend for 10, 11, 12 years. We had him on the show. But at the same time, Mika and I both said … in December of 2015, I said I could never vote for a Republican that supported a Muslim ban, or even talked about it. That was three months before the first vote. I know CNN and some of our opponents like to suggest we were trying to help him and trying to promote him, but if you look at what we said, and not only on TV but in my columns in The Washington Post, I think it was in early March before Super Tuesday after he denied knowing David Duke and how bad the Klan was – I said those comments were disqualifying.

Brzezinski: I’m not proud of it, but I questioned his mental health during the campaign.

Scarborough: We somehow maintained a working relationship with him after [adviser and son-in-law} Jared [Kushner] got a meeting together in early fall. But we still were extremely tough. I think the thing that most people in the press don’t understand is how we have been able to be more harsh than most people in the media and still maintain a relationship with the White House.

How are you navigating the White House today?

Brzezinski: In the first weeks of the presidency, I did present a great deal of patience, and held fire a little bit. I pulled back a little, because I feel like every presidency needs a chance to get its sea legs. And you want every presidency, whether you voted for that president or not, to be a success. What you’re now seeing is that hope being lost. That’s the only way I would describe our relationship: pulling back a little bit. I thought everyone was way over their skis. You know how hard it is. I’ve lived through it. My father [former White House adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski] lived through it. It’s a living hell in there. I had some empathy for the transition, but now it’s just back to having to look at what is being done and said, and analyzing it for what it is.

Scarborough: Everyone wants the conclusion on Twitter today. Everybody wants the end of the story. Your relationship is – fill in the blank. You have to love Donald Trump and be a bumpkin or you have to hate Donald Trump and, if you are in the media, be on the side of right. Willie, Mika and I said on the air in the last month of the campaign that a lot of journalists seemed more interested in  being able to tell their grandchildren in the future, ‘Yes, I helped stop Donald Trump,’ than they were in actually reporting the story straight without massive amounts of editorializing….Mika and I were hopeful, because we’ve known this guy for 10, 11 years, that he would deliver an inaugural address that would show that he was capable of growth.  We were horrified three minutes in…

You can’t cheer against the president without cheering against the country that he runs. I felt that way about Barack Obama, whose policies I opposed. I feel that way about Donald Trump, whose policies I oppose. When you have a president calling the media “the enemy of the people” — using Stalinist terms that even Russia outlawed after Stalin died — when you have a sitting president question the legitimacy of a federal judge, then you start to have things unwind in front of your eyes that, if followed to their logical conclusion, would lead to constitutional crises. At that point, Mika and I said, you know, enough is enough.

“We know for a fact she tries to book herself on this show; I won’t do it ’cause … every time I’ve ever seen her on television something is askew, off, or incorrect.”
Mika Brzezinski, on the Feb. 15 edition of “Morning Joe,” in banning Kellyanne Conway from the show.

I never lose hope. It’s the southern Baptist in me. We are all sinners, and a lot of grace is needed for all of us. I’m hopeful that Donald Trump will fire the right people and hire the right people, and maybe this will moderate a little bit moving forward. Right now, we consider this country to be in a state of crisis, because of some very disturbing decisions he has made.

Mika, your recent remarks about Kellyanne Conway carried a lot of weight. One could argue that her TV presence has diminished to a degree. Do you still feel the same way about having her on the air?

Brzezinski: I feel even more so that everyone should ban her. I’m surprised that these little acrobatic games are played with her on live national television. I think it denigrates what we do. It’s clear she doesn’t bring anything to the table. It’s clear she doesn’t know exactly what she’s talking about. It’s clear she’s making it up as she goes along.

Scarborough: Mika, she did teach us about microwaves.

Brzezinski: That’s true, and now my microwave is named Kellyanne. And every time I open it, which is frequently, because I don’t cook, I say, ‘Thank you, Kellyanne!’ But no, quite seriously, it’s unbelievable she has this job and what it says about this presidency that she has this job. Look, it’s not the most comfortable thing to do, but it’s something you just have to: You have to say, ‘This is garbage,’ and rip up the script, and you have to cut to the chase and cut through the b.s., and she brings nothing more to the table than a lot of that

In a recent interview with Variety, CNN president Jeff Zucker suggested your show was more interested in its relationship with the White House than the news. Is that a valid criticism?

Scarborough: It’s such a farce for Jeff Zucker to say that when all you have to do is look at our transcripts. We don’t give a damn about access to anybody. We don’t give a damn about going to Mar-a-Lago unless the story’s at Mar-a-Lago. If the story was at the batting cage of a spring training game in Florida, that’s where we would be. I challenge anybody to find two people that have been tougher on the president and still maintained access. The fact is we’ve been able to do that because we have a show that — at least inside this White House and the last White House — they believe that all the people [who] matter, [who] influence media throughout the day, [who] influence politics throughout the day, watched our show. Donald Trump didn’t want to talk to us because he liked us; he needed to talk to us because everyone from Paul Ryan to Chuck Schumer to Nancy Pelosi to Supreme Court justices to editors at The New York Times and Washington Post all watch our show.

How do you feel about reports that the president has stopped following you on Twitter?

Scarborough: That’s good news.

Brzezinski: It’s probably healthy.

Scarborough: This may sound condescending. Part of this is he’s never done this before. He doesn’t understand that you step into the White House and you get ripped to shreds whether you are Barack Obama or Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.  We Republicans always think the press is harder on Republicans, but I remember Barack Obama who had one of the easiest coverage in the history of presidential runs, which I believe he did – but the second you walk through that gate on January 20, 2009, the press knocked his head off. They went after him non-stop. They did their jobs. And I think for Donald Trump, who once had to deal with the New York Times and a couple of New York tabloids, this is a lot. I don’t think he understands the role of the media and how adversarial it is for everybody.

How much time behind the scenes do you spend working out your take on the policies of the day? Or are viewers seeing you hash it out in real time?

Brzezinski: Do we prepare? No.

Scarborough: Not enough.

Brzezinski: We’ll call each other a lot on any day. ‘Oh my God, can you believe what happened?’ But we don’t prepare. We sort of let it be fresh. We are talking about things 24 hours a day. Who isn’t? I don’t know if that is tantamount to hashing things out. We certainly have a rhythm of watching the news and talking and connecting over it, but there isn’t’ a plan to prepare for every show. We just keep going.

You’ve been on the air for nearly a decade. Do you have any new ideas or concepts you’d like to try?

Brzezinski: I like vintage “Morning Joe.”… Tweaking a show is always the death of the show.

Scarborough: Every time we think of trying a new concept, or every time a consultant has come in with their ideas, if we ever move off center course, things always go badly. We always go back to basics, and the basics are Willie, Mika, and Joe talking about whatever we want to talk about.

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  1. Christa Jenkins says:

    At last now, Joe and Mika, are going full-throttle after Donald Trump for his lack of character. Mika and Joe are repeatedly, calling Trump a blatant, pathological “liar.” Hard to get much more hostile, than that. I wonder what took Joe and Mika so long, to grasp the glaringly obvious? But then I think, that Joe’s and Mika’s present attitude towards Trump, is light years ahead better, than when they were obsequious sycophants, grovelling at Trump’s requests during the campaign. Joe and Mika spent tons of air time with Trump during those many months. At least, even if it has taken what has seemed like an eternity, Joe and Mika do finally see the light! Still, because it took Mika and Joe so long, despite their 180 degree shift in perspective, their arrogant sanctimony now, can be baffling, to say the very least.

  2. Muriel B. Klingston says:

    I am 89 years old , and I love your MORNING JOE!!!

  3. There is a special hell for showbiz types pretending to be journalists….we all hope.

  4. Cindy Thompson says:

    Mika is annoying to me.

    I like Joe. Think he is making a HUGE mistake thinking of marrying a woman who thinks she knows it all. Time will tell.

    My opinion only….

  5. Kyle Ross says:

    What were Joe and Mika thinking, when they gave spurious Donald Trump, all the morning broadcast time that Trump wanted, grati$, when he was running for president? Now, haughty, Janus-faced, Mika and Joe, have the nerve to self-righteously pontificate about Trump’s egregious and unethical behavior! Duplicitous Joe and Mika lost their credibility a long time ago, and as much as they are desperately and frantically trying to back-pedal away from their shameless, sycophantic grovelling towards Trump before, they remain two of the most irritating, brazen phonies around.

  6. Susan Rhudy says:

    March 22, 2017

    From: Susan R.

    To: Mr. Blunt, Mr. Long, Ms. McCaskill

    Thank you for your service. I look at being a representative of of the people like being a parent. Thankless hours of travel, time, and worry but with amazing reward. I am proud to live in the United States. I, for one, still believe America is great, I believe in three branches of our government, and I enjoy a free press.

    I am a Middlest/Centrist. I am at the apex of the normal curve of opinions. I lament when someone, whether losing the popular vote or winning by landslide, fails to realize they represent all the people including all the non-voters. Be brave. I tell my grandchildren sometimes the bravest, and hardest, thing we sometimes can do is stand up for someone who is being bullied. The citizens, the minorities, the immigrants, the poor, the physically or mentally not strong need your help.

    Under The Affordable Care Act I sometimes felt like I had more doctors visits then I needed, my medications went up as did co-pay. We can pay. I don’t mind paying more if I know someone’s child now has healthcare. If some single mother can afford to take their sick child to a doctor and not an ER or if someone with a chronic disease can be treated I am happy to help.

    We are the greatest. Show it. All sides, especially the middle, need to sit down with insurance representatives, family care doctors (under appreciated and under represented), hospitals and rural clinics and work on a bill. Don’t give breaks to the rich. Don’t add pork that doesn’t apply to the topic. Work on the best America’s Healthcare bill you can create.

    Vote no on the current bill. Shake off your partisan cloaks and get to work.

    I love America,

    Susan

    BTW: How many of our immigrant ancestors were wealthy or had skills when they came here? Mine came from Germany and Sweden in the late 19th century looking what we have.

  7. martin g mann says:

    a major part of the reason i watch morning joe are the guests. most of whom are semi permanent and usually the top of their professions. ie Gen.Hayden, Steve Rattner,David Ignatious,,Richard Haass,John Mecham etc.

  8. Grace Johnson says:

    Why would anyone, look to be “guided,” by Joe Scarbough and Mika Brzezinski – two vacuous, devious, pompous charlatans?
    It was crystal clear that Donald Trump was an unscrupulous huckster, before he even ran for president.
    And yet, Joe and Mika had Trump on their show for the better part of a year while he was campaigning,
    giving him a “huuuge” amount of free air time.
    Now, Mika and Joe want to turn around, and lecture others about Donald Trump’s flaws, that were obvious from the start?!
    Either Joe and Mika are ridiculously slow on the uptake, or they are connivingly deceitful, or both.
    No thanks. No one needs to be preached to by these two hypocritical, sanctimonious blowhards.

  9. Clara Labattaglia says:

    J&M, you ( and the 100 % of the Press) gave to this guy a “free ride” during the election campaign. He did not have to worry about spending money in his campaign. Now, thank to the Press we have to face this nightmare EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR FOUR YEARS!!!!! Thank you Mika and Joe

  10. Michele FitzGerald says:

    Read the interview and half the comments. What struck me obvious was commenters personally attack journalists that personally attack politicians. J&M reflect the dilemma conservative couples find themselves after the election.

  11. Dexter Fells says:

    Joe, Mika and Willie were a part of the “Shamming of America,” giving Trump and his surrogates the platform to tell their unfettered lies. I used to watch Morning Joe daily, now I’ll stop there momentarily while tuning to channels that aren’t afraid to make Trump or his people mad. I haven’t watched an entire show of Morning Joe since April or May of 2016.

  12. Deborah Kosior says:

    I wouldn’t watch your show if you paid me.

  13. Barbara Sides says:

    You’ve got to be Kidding! I try to listen to
    your show and 2 min. in I have to turn you
    off.
    Your demeanor and words only spread
    hate towards President Trump.
    I fear for The America were becoming.

  14. Mark H says:

    Joe and Mika are not guiding viewers. They are part of the media frenzy created to boost viewship. Both need a long vacation.

  15. ed says:

    Steven Bannon, Robert Mercer, Cambridge Analytica and the latter’s parent company SCL.

  16. Laina says:

    I used to listen to MJ devotedly – but during that agonizing campaign 2016, Joe just became so strident and overbearing I couldn’t take it anymore. He just overtalked everyone so rudely. I has always been drawn to the “disagree without being disagreeable” theme…it’s what made it “Not Fox” and “Not MSNBC”. And sane.

    I miss it.

  17. Jane Rose says:

    I watched them every morning for over eight years. Most mornings from 6-9 over coffee and emails or on satellite in the car. I wanted to hear what the other side was saying. I didn’t love Joe who overtalks everyone and Mika’s doe eyes for Joe and her love of all things Obama and Valerie Jarrett grated on my nerves, but I liked Willie and most of their guests and even chuckled at the banter with Donny. I was giddy the morning Mark Halperin called Obama a dick which resulted in his suspension for a length of time. I like Mark. But I stopped watching just around this election. I couldn’t stand the constant smackdowns. Joe, I’m not sure whose news you were following when you said Obama was attacked after he entered the office. While you did share your disdain for his policies, it was hardly vicious. I saw mostly a love affair and cautious reporting, dare anyone be called a racist. You are part of the problem. Joe and Mika, just get a room and host from bed. It might dial back all that sexual tension.. I now spend my mornings with Maria Bartiromo who is a savvy and breezy alternative to the weary Mika.

  18. Frank says:

    Grow up, We the people. That’s why Donald Trump is the President of The United States of America. Maybe You people need a tall glass of shut the hell up. We the people are so tired of all you crybabies! I’m sure President Trump still has plenty of disposable crying towels. Shut up please.

  19. Standmeupatthegatesofhell says:

    Wow! These two were aiding and abetting Trump all through the campaign and now they are surprised and furious that he won. So much craziness on this show. Joe is a megalomaniac and has to have his name on everything including his band. Mika sits there most days and looks balefully at Joe. If she speaks up, he has no problem interrupting and overriding her. There is so much sexual tension and passive agressive behavior in their show that old Sigmund Freud would have a field day. So, Mika before you start questioning Trump’s mental health (which I agree is suspect) watch one of your own shows on video and you will see he isn’t any more nutty than you and Joe!

  20. Are these hosts at MSNBC out of their minds and trying to get PR for their horrible show. My gaud they’re all insane! I rarely watch MSNBC because it’s awful and now I never will. Kellyanne is a brilliant woman and our family highly appreciate and respect her.

  21. CJM says:

    Thank god for shows like Morning Joe. It’s good to hear something other than fake news from a liar. As far as Kellyanne goes, all that hair bleach has crystallized her brain… all of you Trumpsters drank the koolaid and look what you got for your troubles… a lot of words with no backing… hope you have the $ to pay for the wall and your healthcare.

  22. Frank Romo says:

    Don’t worry Mika, no one watches your lame program, besides it’s called “Morning Joe”, unless you’ve got Joe whipped, which that what it sounds like….President Trump is doing what he promised, you Libs just aren’t listening.

  23. Who the heck would watch any of these morning shows, especially one on MSNBC? :-P

  24. liberasaredumb says:

    in other words another democrat demanding censorship of some one he disagrees with

  25. Jeff S says:

    It is interesting you give so much credibility to two of the most biased individuals on one of the worst rated news networks on television…..simply amazing. These two jerks, and the liberal media in their corner, have nothing more on their agenda other than to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump and that has been their mission from the beginning. They cannot get past the fact Hillary lost fair and square. The report on these fake Russian ties to Donald Trump, but not a word on the Podesta financial dealings w/ Russia as John Podesta was Hillary’s campaign chair……not one damn word. Pure bias

  26. Mika and Joe is a total disappointment to a lot of people.

  27. Dorothy says:

    i don’t know why its taken them so long to realize that KellyAnn along with Banner are simply Mercer plants who have nothing to say that will better the lives of ordinary Americans, except lie/s. Of course Trump considers ordinary Americans are “losers” . Keep them OUT of TV interviews

  28. scott says:

    Mika just fills a space in the chair Joe doing what he thinks there 4 or 5 viewers want to hear ..Try just reporting the facts on both sides I know it’s hard Bama is gone so is the democratic party so get over it Let trump move on and then see if you have any news But you don’t know how to report both sides so never mind …Oh and do something with your hair or at least when you roll over have mika brush it for you That’s one thing she might be able to do..

  29. jan fetters says:

    I purposely watch Mike and Joe just to see day by day Mika’s total meltdown – get the hell over it Mike, your gal lost. Why should we the people believe your bull????????

  30. wow! no one, but no one believes those phony news opinionators! they’re not even real journalist! they better start getting off their lying ass’s and deliver some real news or they’re going be out on the streets when NBC PEACOCK shuts down!

  31. Loathe Democrats says:

    Kellyanne scares the corrupt press because they are afraid of anyone who tells the truth….they don’t want that. That’s the real reason they want to ban her. The excuse is that she lies. To them everyone lies but Democrats!!!!!

  32. rodney007 says:

    Why would anyone watch this pair of faux “journalists” spout the typical line without a shred of original thought or probative value? Mika seems as dim as a box of rocks and Joe can’t make up his mind whether he is animal, vegetable or mineral. Their “opinions” reflect their alleged minimal thought processes. In typical fascist fashion they would “ban” people they don’t agree with rather than “debate” the concepts or ideas. Interested in truth or fact? Hardly and neither do they have anything in the way thoughtful political punditry or insight to offer. Same old manure.

  33. bob burger says:

    Lose and election, get caught in a scandal, get fired from every job you had, have an affair on your spouse, etc….you too can find employment at msnbc

  34. I question Mika’s mental health. She is so “out of it” that I fear she will break down at any minute. So Mika doesn’t like Conway because she doesn’t provide Mika and co. with the open door policy that Valerie Jarret did. Suck it up, Mika!

  35. Opie says:

    I change the channel if I see Conway… I don’t believe Conway or Trump are smart enough to use the spectacle of her lies and wild conspiracy theories in some Machiavellian scheme to distract. I feel sure they’ve been lucky and very unprepared.

  36. J.S. says:

    Who wants to be on such a low rated program, the moderators are as biased as a liberal hangout?

  37. Tony Smith says:

    The show can include or exclude anyone they choose. But to suggest to other media outlets that they should include or exclude ANYONE is ridiculous.

  38. Richard Law says:

    Well after reading this garb above,I wish you two had run for President and Vice President then our country would have no problems to worry about,rather than have answer’s all you have is complaints. I put my name on the ballot and served eight years for our city a city of eighty thousand. What have you contributed to your country,state or city? Oh yes I served in Korea for two years. Richard Law

  39. maxtucker6@yahoo.com says:

    No thanks, I think I’ll just ban from watching you! I like KellyAnne along with millions and millions of others.

  40. ken says:

    I wish Pete Seeger were alive today to give his opinions on black listing as well as to give his thoughts on freedom of speech.

  41. Michael Edward Coggins says:

    those idiots should be removed from tv, mslsd bunch of loosers

  42. Nathan Burks says:

    I have never seen Mika smile..She is an old sourpuss, especially since Trump defeated her Hillary

  43. Just like Susan Rice was banned when she lied to all the Sunday shows?

  44. Nathan Burks says:

    Joe had better be careful..he only has 3 people who watch his show now..He had better not alienate 2 of them

  45. Wil in SYV says:

    Oh I am so hurt by being called a snowflake; we are unique as individuals and powerful when we move together. (You know blizzards, avalanches…) But the conservative mantra of you-must-be-just-like-one-of-us-to-be-one-of-us leads to the mass slaughter of heard animals and lemmings jumping off a cliff to their death.

  46. Judging from the comments below the “Snow Flake” Party is in deep trouble. Used to watch this show but can’t stomach either Joe or Mika. I’ve never seen more dishonesty and partisan choreographed segments designed to brainwash snow flakes against Trump. Only the dumbest of the snow flakes are left, most have caught on to the deception and are now on the Trump train. Trump will go down as one of the greatest Presidents on par with G. Washington. The media and show like MJ has helped show the true colors of the left.

  47. Barbara Keller says:

    We need people who aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. Usually this process evokes a thoughtful response from the people being questioned. Mr. Trump seems to be incapable of reflective thinking. His hiring of Kellyanne just shows that he wants people even more foolish than him to represent his governance. Let’s keep asking the questions until someone sensible grabs hold of the reins. Thank you for doing your job correctly.

  48. sissy medley says:

    Can anyone find any credibility among these two? Used to think Joe had some but teaming up with Mika got rid of that.

  49. Raf Anthony says:

    These 2 are petty & pathetic, end of story.

  50. rosemarie ricci says:

    I like morning Joe and Mika. What I like is the variety of guests and different opinions on both sides.That makes the show more enjoyable.

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