The two co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” said Friday morning that President Donald Trump tweeted false details in an attack he made on them the day before, and suggested his obsession with the pair’s program was hurting the United States of America at home and abroad.
During an appearance in the 7 a.m. hour of the NBCUniversal-owned network’s signature morning program, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough dismissed statements the President made in two tweets he posted yesterday. In that social-media dispatch, Trump claimed Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when the pair came to his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago around New Year’s Eve and “insisted” on joining him. Brzezinski and Scarborough said they were there because the president-elect had invited them to dinner on December 30, and also stated that Brzezinski has had no face lift.
“We are OK,” said Scarborough. “The country is not.”
Their remarks followed a more formal denial of Trump’s allegations in an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post. “Despite his constant claims that he no longer watches the show, the president’s closest advisers tell us otherwise. That is unfortunate,” the pair wrote. “We believe it would be better for America and the rest of the world if he would keep his 60-inch-plus flat-screen TV tuned to ‘Fox & Friends.'”
In half an hour of commercial-free television, Brzezinski and Scarborough made the case that President Trump is too easily wound up by remarks he hears on cable news and his actions take him and the country away from accomplishing necessary things, such as devising a rebuild of U.S. infrastructure and helping voters across the nation who elected Trump because they believed he would work to improve their lives in a rapidly changing world being reworked by new technology and split by economic disparity.
“It’s been fascinating and frightening and really sad for our country,” said Brzezinski during the program.
Scarborough and Brzezinski had planned to be on vacation Friday, and told viewers that they cancelled plans to take a trip to Boston with their families to see a Red Sox game due to the controversy stirred by President Trump’s social-media outburst. They also claimed that Trump and White House officials had at an earlier time suggested Trump would be willing to work to get a story being prepared about them by the National Enquirer spiked if only Scarborough would make outreach. Scarborough said he declined to follow on those hints.
The contretemps marks the latest in a series of feuds between the White House and the nation’s mainstream media outlets, who find themselves put regularly on the defensive as they seek to cover an administration that is unorthodox and thin-skinned. CNN earlier this week found itself at odds with the Trump administration after publishing a story online alleging Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials,” and that cited a single anonymous source. CNN retracted the article and three employees involved with its publication left the Time Warner-owned outlet in the wake of the controversy.
MSNBC clearly expected a swell of audience Friday morning. Although Brzezinski and Scarborough did not appear until the show’s second hour, on-screen chyrons appearing in the program’s opening minutes told viewers to stick around until they appeared at 7 a.m. “I suspect we have some new viewers this morning,” said Willie Geist, the program’s third co-host, as the show opened. Donny Deutsch, a regular among the show’s rotating guests, immediately suggested President Trump was unwell, both mentally and physically.
Scarborough and Brzezinski subtly made a case during their time on air. While they at first dismissed the substance of Trump’s tweeted allegations, as they continued to speak Friday, it became clear they were trying to illustrate the ripple effects of his behavior. The President is “amping things up and making the political environment all the more dangerous,” said Scarborough. “‘We are not going to get Washington fixed as long as this continues.”