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MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ Sparks Debate With Pre-Taped Broadcast

Sometimes, it just might pay to hand things over to Mike Barnicle and Katty Kay.

Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist sparked a social-media tempest over the long holiday weekend after the “Morning Joe” team pre-taped the show that broadcast on Friday and spent opening segments talking about a Thanksgiving dinner that likely had yet to occur. After The Washington Post reported on the incident, other news outlets followed, calling out MSNBC for running the program without more clearly identifying its nature (MSNBC did not run a “live” banner on-screen during the program).

“There was no intention to trick viewers,” an unnamed MSNBC executive told the newspaper. “Would it have helped if there was a disclaimer?” the executive asked. “Maybe. But that’s not typically done.”

Many TV-news outlets run pre-recorded material on their schedule. Bill O’Reilly’s “O’Reilly Factor” was typically recorded earlier in the day on Fox News Channel, and Sean Hannity often pre-recorded his “Hannity” for the cable-news network when it ran at 10 p.m. (it now airs live at 9). CNN and MSNBC re-air broadcasts of “Anderson Cooper 360” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” from earlier in the day in the overnight hours. The ABC-distributed “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” have occasionally relied on pre-taped segments to run during live programs due to availability of interview subjects.

What seems to have tripped wires in this incident, however, is the “Morning Joe” hosts appearing to reflect on Thanksgiving while a real-time news ticker ran on the screen below them. “Day after Thanksgiving! Hoo! I’m stuffed,” Brzezinski said in the opening moments of the now-controversial broadcast.

Scarborough took to Twitter to express surprise the incident had garnered any attention at all. “Wow. You either never watch our show or need your jokes so obvious they fall on you like an anvil on Bugs Bunny cartoons. We’ve been making fun of the practice for years. It’s also over-the-top to be obvious,” he said in response to the reporter of the piece, Washington Post writer Paul Farhi. “Also, the only person you sourced was an unnamed viewer who didn’t want to be identified? Really? That’s your source. One viewer who remained anonymous? That’s funny. Any editors around there?”

A handful of TV-news veterans expressed surprise on social media that the pre-taped broadcast was worth a mention. “Really?” asked Brit Hume, the Fox News veteran. “Seriously!” said Chris Licht, the founding executive producer of “Morning Joe,” who went on to oversee “CBS This Morning,” and, more recently, work with Stephen Colbert on CBS’ “Late Show.”

Apparently, some people like their morning news the way they like their coffee — fresh.

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