Joe Scarborough Points Out Media’s Immigration Blind Spot While Flip-Flopping

Wednesday on Morning Joe, the discussion centered around immigration policies and deportation. Host Joe Scarborough began the segment righteously stating why illegal immigration is wrong and that the media has a “blind spot” in seeing where most Americans stand on the issue.

Scarborough made this point first to political analyst Mark Halperin:“So Mark, you have said this is the biggest disconnect between red state America and blue state America. I agree. My only caveat to that is I think there are a lot of people in blue state America that also think, wait, they are here illegally? What is wrong with the government deporting them? I know that is not popular in this area code.”

Halperin agreed: “Yeah, or in most of the media.” Scarborough answered, “Or in most of the media! But most– And I'll be the first to admit – Sanctuary cities . . . what? I remember they had during the first Gulf War, I think San Francisco said it was a sanctuary city, that if you wanted to be a draft dodger you could go . . .  Or if you wanted to desert . . . There was some outrageous thing. You could go to San Francisco and they wouldn't prosecute you. I am like what? Wait. No. That is kind of up to the federal government. So I think this is an issue that the media . . .  has a complete blind spot on where most Americans are.”

Further into the segment Halperin went on to say, “There needs to be extraordinary scrutiny over how this is implemented but the notion of the trying to control our borders, enforce the law, change the way we treat to reduce the incentives of people, ... try to reduce the incentives for people coming here illegally that’s what Trump ran on more than anything else.

”Scarborough replied his comment with: “And the thing is, both sides. And you know, you're a local reporter... Mika go find a kid who has been hurt. You can go out there. Mika go out and find somebody who lost their job because of an illegal immigrant on the other side. Find somebody whose child was beaten up in school by an illegal immigrant. Go ahead...”

Scarborough continuing to rant, while changed his tune:

But here’s the hypocrisy is, the same conservatives that are freaked out in red state American–  I can tell you in Pensacola, Florida, when we had hurricane Ivan . . .  you couldn't get insurance companies to move fast enough to fix your home. Guess who went up on the roofs without workers' comp and fixed those homes? By the way, in red state America, in blue state American, in all of America. That is the rank horse you know why . . . It's just outrageous. That, we have an economy, let's face it, we have an economy that is built on illegal immigration. Some parts of it, Mika. We have an economy that is built on that. So that is why I say, why don't you just legalize it? But there's such a blind spot there.

After they all resounded in agreement, economic analyst Steve Rattner added, “And what’s going to be interesting to see what happens is that Obama only deported, you know, those who committed serious crimes. Trump is basically said anyone who has committed any crime can be deported, including, that means showing up and getting a job, fixing your roof and saying I'm legal. And so the interesting thing you hear some anecdotal evidence this may already be happening is illegals are afraid to go out and work because they might– because then that constitutes committing a crime.”

Scarborough, flipping back to his original stance said,“ But for most Americans would cut you off and say– not most, but the majority of Americans say, but Steve, they are illegal! The first act they took when they came to America was illegal! They broke the law coming into this country...” Brzezinski interjected while Scarborough continued talking, “There’s a very human side.” Scarborough answered, “ I know there's a human side! But–  all we hear are those sides of the story. Go and find somebody who is hurt by us enforcing our laws. Go and find somebody. And so then we can't even talk about that side of it and then everybody is shocked when Donald Trump . . .  Goes to Arizona and thousands and thousands of people there because nobody in the media talks about it.”

Halperin added, “But the onus is on him now to explain how he is going to pay for it and how he’s gonna deal with the disruptions in the economy if people are afraid to come out and work or if people are actually deported who have done a lot of the work in this country over the last” Mike Barnacle, veteran columnist, interrupted “Yeah but part of the roots of this great country of ours are planted in generosity, compassion, open arms, open doors, come here. Bring your poor, your tired, whatever, okay? Part of the roots--”

Scarborough continuing his earlier point:
And most persons would say, yes, come here. Legally. Why should there be somebody in Pakistan that’s been trying to come here for 15 years...To be with their family and somebody comes here illegally...when I was in congress...and this was 10, 15 years ago -- was getting somebody from across the world connected with their family here, whether it was from Pakistan. I keep saying Pakistan because there was one case I worked on forever. A guy just wanted to be with his family, for God's sake. And he was trying to do it legally. And he busted his ass for years. Then somebody walks across the border and is here and everybody said oh we have got to be compassion to that person. What about everybody across the globe who is trying to do it legally?

Barnacle went on to say, “The cost of this, it’s going to cost like $8500 per hour flight time to take people back to their countries. You’ve got to first get a card, a deportation card, from the country that you’re sending them to . . . The hiring is going to cost billions, literally billions.”

Scarborough agreed:

And here is literally Mika the great lie to all of this is the economic lie. This country right now which is $20 trillion in debt can afford to deport 300,000 to 400,000 people a year. Another lie is the fact that Barack Obama was lax in this. Obama deported more people than anybody ever... He was called the deporter in chief...And I'm telling you. For conservatives and Republicans understand this. He pushed the boundaries in many cases. If we want to do more, Mika, we are going to have to pay a lot more. Just like if you want to replace affordable care act and keep the promises Donald Trump made, get your checkbook out it's going to cost you tens of billions of dollars.

Scarborough later continued with: “I think we in the media, need to be fair on both sides saying, yes, a lot of people that are here -- that are here illegally should not be here. And if they commit crimes, especially if they defraud the government, they should go home. But we have to be honest about the fact that our economy in red state and blue state America...is run– Up on the roof. Up on the roof working without workers' comp. Working without benefits, working without anything. But guess what . . . They can stop your house from leaking tomorrow. Or you can wait four months for the good hands people to come” Barnacle agreed saying, “That’s the story”

Scarborough, continuing to rant on, brought up a poll on immigration: “Look at this. I want to show you this – poll that just came out last night on immigration impact on America helps more than it hurts. 58%. Guess what. You know the people who believe that? It's very limited number of people. It’s only people who use computers. It's only people who actually use the internet. It's only people who actually like look at silicon valley and like Intel.--”

Brzezinski interrupting Scarborough: “Okay we have to go to break but you're right. Let's go!” Scarborough exclaimed, “They are all immigrants! Hold on. No! They– This point needs to be made!” Brzezinski laughed while saying, “I think you're making it!” Scarborough continuing, “They are all immigrants! Silicon valley, it's not fueled by guys like me . . . It is fueled by guys like me being bossed around by people – like by immigrants who we were blessed as a country to have come here.”

The last few minutes of the segment continued with comments from the panel that were slightly off color and seemingly racist:

SCARBROUGH: Hey by the way, isn't that funny about the California ranchers? Hey we like Trump dah, dah ... And now they are leaving. Now they might leave. Oh, wait who’s– My son is not going to go out there and do this work!

BRZEZINSKI: Repeal ObamaCare. Wait. I want my health care.

SCARBROUGH:  I'm not talking about my son, but the rancher's son.

STEVE RATTNER Who is going to cut the grass on Donald Trump's golf courses?

 

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Here is the exchange that took place on February 22:

MSNBC - Morning Joe
6:30Segment
[6:31:28 - 6:42:19]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Mark, you have said this is the biggest disconnect between red state America and blue state America. I agree. My only caveat to that is I think there are a lot of people in blue state America that also think, wait, they are here illegally. What is wrong with the government deporting them? I know that is not popular in this area code.

MARK HALPERIN: Yeah, or in most of the media.

SCARBOROUGH: Or in most of the media. But most– And I'll be the first to admit – Sanctuary cities . . . what? I remember they had during the first Gulf War, I think San Francisco said it was a sanctuary city, that if you wanted to be a draft dodger you could go– not that we even had a draft but– or if you wanted to desert

MARK HALPERIN: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: There was some outrageous thing. You could go to San Francisco and they wouldn't prosecute you. I am like what? Wait. No. That is kind of up to the federal government. So I think this is an issue that the media -- and I think this is like abortion. This is -- this is an issue that the media has a complete blind spot on where most Americans are.

HALPERIN: I agree 100%. And–  not necessarily the biggest gap but it’s as big as any other gap because—

SCARBOROUGH:  As abortion, let's say.

HALPERIN: Yeah. You go to any part of the country that voted for Donald Trump, and their view of–  I say, tell me the story of how immigration has affected the United States and they will focus mostly on the negative. Crowded schools. People with driver's license– driving without driver’s licenses–

MIKE BARNACLE: No driver’s licences

HALPERIN: Hospital costs. Their neighborhoods changing. And a belief that Donald Trump has that you can't be a country if you can't control your border. Go to blue America and they will say this is going to hurt families, this is going to hurt children, this is going to keep us from having the work force we need. There is truth in both sides. But–

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well and I think that is where the media lies– 

HALPERIN: Media lies 100% there –

RZEZINSKI: The media loves – I even saw our own network interviewing a family

HALPERIN: Yeah –

BRZEZINSKI: And a child that was going to be hurt and they were breaking the law –

HALPERIN: Yes. And –

BRZEZINSKI: It’s very hard to –

HALPERIN: There needs to be extraordinary scrutiny over how this is implemented but the notion of the trying to control our borders, enforce the law, change the way we treat to reduce the incentives of people, try to have – try to reduce the incentives for people coming here illegally that’s what Trump ran on more than anything else.

SCARBOROUGH: And the thing is, both sides. And you know, you're a local reporter.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. I’ve done this.

SCARBOROUGH: Mika go find a kid who has been hurt. You can go out there. Mika go out and find somebody who lost their job because of an illegal immigrant on the other side. Find somebody whose child was beaten up in school by an illegal immigrant. Go ahead –

BRZEZINSKI: There’s thousands ---

SCARBOROUGH: But here’s the hypocrisy is ,the same conservatives that are freaked out in red state American–  I can tell you in Pensacola, Florida, when we had hurricane Ivan I think it was in 2005 and you couldn't get insurance companies to move fast enough to fix your home. Guess who went up on the roofs without workers' comp and fixed those homes? By the way, in red state America, in blue state American, in all of America. That is the rank horse you know why.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay.

SCARBOROUGH: No– It's just outrageous. That, we have an economy, let's face it, we have an economy that is built on illegal immigration. Some parts of it, Mika. We have an economy that is built on that. So that is why I say why don't you just legalize it? But there's such a blind spot there.

BRZEZINSKI: Well it’s complicated. I totally agree.

STEVE RATTNER And what’s going to be interesting to see what happens is that Obama only deported, you know, those who committed serious crimes. Trump is basically said anyone who has committed any crime can be deported including that means showing up and getting a job fixing your roof and saying I'm legal. And so the interesting thing you hear some anecdotal evidence this may already be happening is illegals are afraid to go out and work because they might– because then that constitutes committing a crime.

SCARBOROUGH: But for most Americans would cut you off and say– not most, but the majority of Americans say, but Steve, they are illegal! The first act they took when they came to America was illegal! They broke the law coming into this country.

BARNACLE: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: And why the media can't figure that out is -- because it guarantees you the majority --

BRZEZINSKI: There’s a very human side.

SCARBOROUGH: I know there's a human side. But–  all we hear are those sides of the story. Go and find somebody who is hurt by us enforcing our laws. Go and find somebody. And so then we can't even talk about that side of it and then everybody is shocked when Donald Trump –

BRZEZINSKI: Goes to Arizona and talks about the crime rate –

SCARBOROUGH: Goes to Arizona and thousands and thousands of people there because nobody in the media talks about it.

HALPERIN: But the onus is on him now to explain how he is going to pay for it and how’s he gonna deal with the disruptions in the economy if people are afraid to come out and work or if people are actually deported who have done a lot of the work in this country over the last –

BARNACLE: Yeah but part of the roots of this great country of ours are planted in generosity, compassion, open arms, open doors, come here. Bring your poor, your tired, whatever, okay? Part of the roots –

SCARBOROUGH: And most persons would say, yes, come here. Legally why should there be somebody in Pakistan that’s been trying to come here for 15 years –

BARRNACLE: Absolutely. There’s no doubt/

SCARBOROUGH: To be with their family and somebody comes here illegally.

BRZEZINSKI: Or a Syrian refugee who it takes two years to get here

BARRNACLE: There is do doubt but this story – this story –

SCARBOROUGH: Oh I would be shocked if a Syrian refuge could get here in less than two years.I'm telling you, when I was in congress, I sp– the hardest thing to do – and this was 10, 15 years ago -- was getting somebody from across the world connected with their family here, whether it was from Pakistan. I keep saying Pakistan because there was one case I worked on forever. A guy just wanted to be with his family, for God's sake. And he was trying to do it legally. And he busted his ass for years. Then somebody walks across the border and is here and everybody said oh we have got to be compassion to that person. What about everybody across the globe who is trying to do it legally? Through congressional offices.

BARRNACLE: The way this story plays out is going to be carried out by two elements in this society. The President and the government and the media. How we report it. There is a very good piece in The Times today an explanatory piece about the potential cost of huge–  not mass deportation. That is a phrase to trigger animosity among people in this zip code. Ok. I get that. Everyone gets that. But the cost of this it’s going to cost like 8500 per hour flight time to take people back to their countries. You’ve got to first get a card, a deportation card, from the country that you’re sending them to.

SCARBOROUGH: Mike we can't afford it and here is –

BARRNACLE: The hiring is going to cost billions, literally billions.

SCARBOROUGH: And here is literally Mika the great lie to all of this is the economic line. This country right now which is $20 trillion in debt can afford to deport 300,000 to 400,000 people a year. Another lie is the fact that Barack Obama was lax in this. Obama deported more people than anybody ever.

BARRNACLE: Deporter in chief.

SCARBOROUGH: He was called the deporter in chief.

HALPERIN: And put resources on the border, too.

SCARBOROUGH: And! And I'm telling you. For conservatives and Republicans understand this. He pushed the boundaries in many cases. If we want to do more, Mika, we are going to have to pay a lot more. Just like if you want to replace affordable care act and keep the promises Donald Trump made, get your checkbook out it's going to cost you tens of billions of dollars.

BRZEZINSKI: So Yamiche, I think it's more important than ever that news organizations are clear, factual, and unbiased. This story is a challenge, is it not?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It’s not a challenge in some ways because I think you can really sit down and talk about the facts. The issue, I think, is the perception that is really hard to change people's perception. If you have in an administration that is saying they are going to put on their website the crimes committed by immigrants and not also offer up the fact that majority of crimes committed in the U.S. are committed by Americans, then it's really hard to explain to people that actually these immigrants are not people that are complete criminals, that the country is being somehow taken over by these people. So I think as much as the media is putting out facts, there is this idea that if you go and you blame you not having a job for somebody, a brown person or thinking that person owes you something or that person has somehow hurt your family by being in this country, then it doesn't really matter how much facts we present you.

BRZEZINSKI: But isnt it important–

ALCINDOR: A lot of people are just wedded to those ideas.

BRZEZINSKI: Isn’t it important to point out that that person is here illegally and, therefore, breaking the law?

ALCINDOR: I think it's important to point out exactly what that person did. So if that person came over illegally you can say that. I also think that it's important to explain to people what the economy of immigration is here. There was a great story in The Times about California farmers who voted for Trump and were very excited about him but are now terrified that if he continues -- if he deports people that they are going to be gone.

BRZEZINSKI: It’s the Affordable Care Act!

ALCINDOR: So this idea is –

SCARBROUGH: Yeah, Exactly!

BRZEZINSKI: It's ObamaCare.

ALCINDOR:  That it's really nuance.

SCARBROUGH: You know— and that is the case is I think we in the media, need to be fair on both sides saying, yes, a lot of people that are here -- that are here illegally should not be here. And if they commit crimes, especially if they defraud the government, they should go home. But we have to be honest about the fact that our economy in red state and blue state America.

BARNACLE: Up on the roof.

SCARBROUGH:  Is run– Up on the roof. Up on the roof working without workers' comp. Working without benefits, working without anything. But guess what –

BRZEZINSKI: Raising familie. Suffering.

SCARBROUGH: They can stop your house from leaking tomorrow. Or you can wait four months for the good hands people to come

BARNACLE: That’s the story

SCARBROUGH: And bring their contractors– Look at this. I want to show you this – poll that just came out last night on immigration impact on America helps more than it hurts. 58%. Guess what. You know the people who believe that? It's very limited number of people. It’s only people who use computers. It's only people who actually use the internet. It's only people who actually like look at silicon valley and like Intel. --

BRZEZINSKI: Okay we have to go to break but you're right. Let's go!

SCARBROUGH: They are all immigrants! Hold on. No! They– This point needs to be made!

BRZEZINSKI: I think you're making it!

SCARBROUGH:  They are all immigrants! Silicon valley, it's not fueled by guys like me.

BARNACLE: No.

SCARBROUGH: It is fueled by guys like me being bossed around by people – like by immigrants who we were blessed as a country to have come here.

BRZEZINSKI: That's why our millennial kids have little shoulders.

BARNACLE: Your roof is going to leak and your restaurants will close.

SCARBROUGH:  And the internet is gonna shutting down.

BRZEZINSKI: Yamich thank you very much, I think. Coming up top democrats are split --

SCARBROUGH: Hey by the way, isn't that funny about the California ranchers? Hey we like Trump dah, dah and –

BRZEZINSKI: It's ObamaCare.

SCARBROUGH: Now they are leaving. Now they might leave. Oh, wait who’s– My son is not going to go out there and do this work!

BRZEZINSKI: Repeal ObamaCare. Wait. I want my health care.

SCARBROUGH:  I'm not talking about my son, but the rancher's son.

STEVE RATTNER Who is going to cut the grass on Donald Trump's golf courses?

Alexis Thomasi
Alexis Thomasi
Alexis Thomasi, an intern in the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division