MSNBC’s Morning Joe Turns Confrontational in Post-Election Self-Reflection on Role of Media

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s historic victory over Hillary Clinton in this election, the media descended into a state of total shock and surprise. On Wednesday’s and Thursday’s election editions of Morning Joe, the liberal commentators present conducted a series of serious self-critical discussions on doing their jobs as journalists, which at one point turned confrontational toward the media.

On Wednesday, co-host Joe Scarborough stated that: “Everything that we've all talked about – they could have seen it coming. You know, but the media was all in on this narrative. It was just everybody was marching in lock step: Clinton is going to win.” He reminded viewers about his past criticisms of the mainstream media misleading predictions that the Democratic nominee would win in a landslide, though it appeared that in reality the opposite had happened on election night.

Later on during Thursday’s show, Scarborough addressed the shocked press coverage in light of the Republican nominee’s victory, saying:  “I think as dramatic of a difference this certainly seems to the media, at least in New York - Manhattan and in DC and across the country, there are so many similarities to what's happening today to what’s happening today with what’s happening when you have the passing of power in the past when do actually see everybody going from showing their worst sides to their best sides…”

Also, co-host Mika Brzezinski questioned negative news reports of a market collapse, interjecting: “I thought the markets were supposed to collapse?” in response to Scarborough statement: “I think there was a reason why the Dow Jones hit an all-time high yesterday…and it’s because – actually as much as we denigrate leaders in Washington DC and politicians, yesterday Democrats and Republicans seemed to act together in concert in the best interests of this country.”

As the conversation continued, Scarborough referenced a recent article in the New York Times by its political correspondent Jim Rutenburg, which examines how horrifically the media missed the outcome of this election because of the bubble they operated in.

This article blamed the media for reaching a conclusion and then searching for facts in support of Hillary Clinton with journalists going out of their way to stand against Donald Trump.

Scarborough then became seriously confrontational with his colleagues in the press, demonstrating how their biased coverage throughout the election resulted in their ultimate loss:

I want you guys to think about this, people at The New York Times, The Washington Post, people I know and love - I want you to think about this, that when anybody even made the suggestion that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States, it was their journalistic standards that were questioned. When Mark Halperin suggested that there was a pathway for Donald Trump as president of the United States, I won't name names because so many of them are my friends and there's no need to name names now because the time for recrimination is over. But reporters at some of the best newspapers in the world, anchors at some of the best networks in the world, mocked and ridiculed -- Mark Halperin, I want you to think about this. They mocked and ridiculed him not for saying that Donald Trump is going to be elected president of the United States. They mocked and ridiculed him for saying there was a slight chance that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States.

Now, if your job – you thought and Jim Rutenberg did say back in August that ‘The New York Times’ job and journalists’ job now was to defeat Donald Trump.’ That the editor of The New York Times confirmed that. If you really thought that was your job - think about what you did – you were trying to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump because you thought Donald Trump would be such a malignant cancer on our constitutional republic but you did two things. The first thing you did was you put liberals and Democrats and independents who thought like you – you put them in a position where they were complacent, where they really did believe not only in New York but across America and the world – that Hillary Clinton had a 98.99% of being elected president so if that’s the case, then why do I have to go to the phone banks, why do I have to knock on doors, why do I have to go out of my house at 7 pm at night and get in my car and drive two blocks over and talk to a friend who is wavering and explain to them why Hillary Clinton would be best…”

You understand that, that's the first thing you did. The second thing you did, which I think you’re beginning to understand now from reading Jim Ruttenberg’s really good penetrating article, is you completely ignored the world. The elite cluster that you don't know, you had a complete blind spot and you wanted to keep it that way, it was much easier for you to stay in Manhattan and say “they're all voting for Trump because they're racists and bigots.” If you really do believe that then you believe that over 50 million people are racists and bigots and if you really do believe that then I take pity on you. You still didn't don't understand what Michael Moore understands: America is hurting, economically Middle America is hurting. You don't understand what's on and let’s face it, I don't understand what's going on out there but you know what Mark and I did that you didn't do? You know what Mika did that you didn't do? We actually talked to people in Middle America and they told us they were hurting any they told us why they were voting for Donald Trump. Mark, you were with Donald Trump’s campaign for the last 72-96 hours and you saw crowds that you’ve never seen before...”

Later on, Bloomberg Politics editor Mark Halperin joined in with Scarborough pointing out the clear liberal media bias manifested in the latest New York Times headline, “Democrats, Students and Foreign Allies Face the Reality of a Trump Presidency.”

Halperin criticized those journalists for only caring about themselves and their agenda: “I’ll say again, the responsibility of journalists is to not report on their biases. It's to go out and understand the country through the prism of the election and say why are people feeling the way the feeling? I am just stunned at how people are reacting except I'm not stunned.”

All the liberal commentators and guests in disappointment of the election’s outcome, eventually were also self-critical, frequent commentator Mike Barnicle admitted that ”there is an element of elitism that I that I think has been within the news business for some time” questioning his colleague Sam Stein of the Huffington Post: “Why is it do you think that people who work in our business, people who work in New York, Washington, Boston, LA, whatever, they seem not to understand that someone who works in the middle of Indiana has the same hopes and dreams and aspirations for their country and their children as we do? Why is that?”

Stein then sadly responded: “I am way too cloistered in DC. I need to get out there more, this is a point of self-reflection, I feel that I’ve failed in my job. You know.” Brzezinski also added on the conclusion that there has been a disconnect between the elite and the electorate: “In terms of the media, I mean, there's another trend that played into this problem instead of everyone just being wrong and you know, dumping on everybody. Major networks and news organizations have been going on the cheap for decades now. They've been cutting back bureaus around the world, around the country. Tell me a reporter a major network that lives in Trump country, that really knows how people feel out there and can really write.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC's Morning Joe on November 9 and 10 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe

11/09/2016

6:21:10 AM

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I'll talk about the elephant in the room, here Willie. Everything that he's talked about. Everything that we've all talked about – they could have seen it coming. You know, but the media was all in on this narrative. It was just everybody was marching in lock step: ‘Clinton is going to win.

(....)

6:24:46 AM

SCARBOROUGH: Mike, Willie said ‘nobody expected that’ – very few people in the mainstream media and very few people in Washington expected that and especially early into the evening the word spread like wildfire this was supposed to be a massive Clinton victory and I actually tweeted at the time – talk about how last night at 7 o’clock when everybody say those exit polls and they were sure Hillary Clinton was sweeping to a landslide…

(....)

6:02:10 AM

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I think as dramatic of a difference this certainly seems to the media, at least in New York - Manhattan and in DC and across the country, there are so many similarities to what's happening today to what’s happening today with what’s happening when you have the passing of power in the past when do actually see everybody going from showing their worst sides to their best sides. So you had those conversations, those speeches and then you had Donald Trump calling Chuck Schumer. Chuck Schumer putting out a good, positive statement. Nancy Pelosi doing the same thing. Them coming together as Americans. I think there was a reason why the Dow Jones hit an all-time high yesterday…

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Did you see that?

SCARBOROUGH: …and it’s because – actually as much as we denigrate leaders in Washington DC and politicians, yesterday Democrats and Republicans seemed to act together in concert in the best interests of this country.

BRZEZINSKI: I thought the markets were supposed to collapse?

SCARBOROUGH: Yea, well they were – we will talk to Steve Rattner about that. So, let’s get on to the news.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay, President Obama will be meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in the oval office later this morning to discuss the future of the country as well as potential policies that could be carried over. The president has ordered that Trump, vice president-elect Mike Pence and designated members of their team receive access to the president's daily briefing, the intelligence assessment with the nation's most highly guarded secrets. Meanwhile, First lady Michelle Obama will greet Melania Trump in the east wing residence for their first meeting as the White House changes hands and Vice President Joe Biden called governor Pence yesterday and invited him to the Naval Observatory for dinner. 

6:19:03 AM

SCARBOROUGH: The Clinton campaign believed until 9 o’clock that they had a lock on this - that they were going to win – the fault of that actually lies with the media and there’s some self-reflection. Jim Rutenburg writes a fascinating article where the The New York Times editor and others basically come to terms we fact they stopped being journalists over the last month and began being cheerleaders and became people who had a conclusion that they reached and then searched for facts to show that Hillary Clinton was a 92, 93, 99.99% chance winner of winning this campaign. They –

BRZEZINSKI: I am how else would you explain it? Except if they were searching for those facts. I am wondering.

SCARBOROUGH:  They were!

BRZEZINSKI: I mean, was it a big aberration?

SCARBOROUGH: No, it wasn’t a big aberration. I was there, the entire time, they did not want hear, they did not want to see it and I will just say when people like Mark, us, Nate Silver even, I want you guys to think about this, people at The New York Times, The Washington Post, people I know and love - I want you to think about this, that when anybody even made the suggestion that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States, it was their journalistic standards that were questioned. When Mark Halperin suggested that there was a pathway for Donald Trump as president of the United States, I won't name names because so many of them are my friends and there's no need to name names now because the time for recrimination is over. But reporters at some of the best newspapers in the world, anchors at some of the best networks in the world, mocked and ridiculed -- Mark Halperin, I want you to think about this. They mocked and ridiculed him not for saying that Donald Trump is going to be elected president of the United States. They mocked and ridiculed him for saying there was a slight chance that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States.

Now, if your job – you thought and Jim Rutenberg did say back in August that The New York Timesjob and journalists’ job now was to defeat Donald Trump.” That the editor of The New York Times confirmed that. If you really thought that was your job - think about what you did – you were trying to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump because you thought Donald Trump would be such a malignant cancer on our constitutional republic but you did two things. The first thing you did was you put liberals and Democrats and independents who thought like you – you put them in a position where they were complacent, where they really did believe not only in New York but across America and the world – that Hillary Clinton had a 98.99% of being elected president so if that’s the case, then why do I have to go to the phone banks, why do I have to knock on doors, why do I have to go out of my house at 7:00 at night and get in my car and drive two blocks over and talk to a friend who is wavering and explain to them why Hillary Clinton would be best…

BRZEZINSKI: Why do I have to vote?

SCARBOROUGH: I don’t need to do any of that, you’ve told me that she’s got a 99.9% of winning or a 90% of winning if we’re talking about the upshot, poor Nate Silver gets slammed for saying she has a 70% of winning. You understand that, that's the first thing you did. The second thing you did, which I think you’re beginning to understand now from reading Jim Ruttenberg’s really good penetrating article, is you completely ignored the world. The elite cluster that you don't know, you had a complete blind spot and you wanted to keep it that way, it was much easier for you to stay in Manhattan and say “they're all voting for Trump because they're racists and bigots.” If you really do believe that then you believe that over 50 million people are racists and bigots and if you really do believe that then I take pity on you. You still didn't don't understand what Michael Moore understands: America is hurting, economically Middle America is hurting. You don't understand what's on and let’s face it, I don't understand what's going on out there but you know what Mark and I did that you didn't do? You know what Mika did that you didn't do? We actually talked to people in Middle America and they told us why they were hurting any they told us why they were voting for Donald Trump. Mark, you were with Donald Trump’s campaign for the last 72-96 hours and you say crowds that you’ve never seen before in these Rust Belt states.

(....)

6:25:11 AM

SCARBOROUGH: Look at the headline of this story!

HALPERIN: Look at the headline of this story, this is day after a surprising underdog sweeping victory and their headline is not “Disaffected Americans Have a Champion Going to the White House” or “The Country Votes for Fundamental Change” the headline is about how disappointed how the friends of those who run The New York Times are –

SCARBOROUGH: “Democrats, Students and Foreign Allies Face the Reality of a Trump Presidency”

HALPEIN: It’s amazing to me how this is the headline of The New York Times and I am not picking on The Times but it’s a great example –

SCARBOROUGH: Look at this, this is staggering, this shows that the editors of The New York Times, they don’t get it

BRZEZINSKI: This is about them…

(....)

6:26:33 AM

HALPERIN: I’ll say again, the responsibility of journalists is to not report on their biases. It's to go out and understand the country through the prism of the election and say why are people feeling the way the feeling? I am just stunned at how people are reacting. Except I'm not stunned.

SCARBOROGH: The Boston Globe, they did it right. It was a “Seismic Shift” such a seismic shift. Now, listen we’re all saying that we thought Trump could’ve won, we’re just as shocked as you are that he won the way he did. So, nobody saying here we had a crystal ball but the thing is – “Across Divide…” The Washington Post writes “All Eyes on Trump,” The Wall Street Journal probably has the best headline: “A New Political Order” that we all have to deal with….

7:06:11 AM

SCARBOROUGH: You know it’s a terrible, terrible sign when The New York Times, which is the paper of record for so many people, certainly for me, when The New York Times has its best, brightest young journalists go on Twitter and 10 times, 15 times a day tweet out contemptuous tweets about Donald Trump from some of these great writers who I believe will one day run The New York Times. But think about that; you actually have a leadership at The New York Times this campaign and I think this is all going to change but that actually encouraged their journalists to aggressively take a stand against a major party candidate and then wonder why they so misrepresented reality to their readers and so let their readers down. 

(....)

7:19:00 AM

MIKE BARNCILE: But there is an element of elitism that I that I think has been within the news business for some time and it is this: Why is it? the question is to you Sam; why is it, do you think that people who work in our business, people who work in New York, Washington, Boston, LA, whatever, they seem not to understand that someone who works in the middle of Indiana has the same hopes and dreams and aspirations for their country and their children as we do? Why is that?

SAM STEIN: I don’t think that – I mean I can’t speak for the entire news business but I don’t think they don’t understand that. I think that we’ve talked about is that they need to go out, myself included – I mean I am way too cloistered in DC. I need to get out there more, this is a point of self-reflection, I feel that I’ve failed in my job. You know..

SCARBOROUGH: What happened when you went to a Trump ally a couple weeks ago? When you went to a Trump rally you came on the show the next day. Somebody suggested that Trump people were racist, you said no they're not racists: “I went to the Trump rally, they're not racists.”
 

7:22:02 AM

BRZEZINSKI: In terms of the media, I mean, there's another trend that played into this problem instead of everyone just being wrong and you know, dumping on everybody. Major networks and news organizations have been going on the cheap for decades now. They've been cutting back bureaus around the world, around the country. Tell me a reporter a major network that lives in Trump country, that really knows how feel out there and can really write. I know from working at a major network myself and working for an evening newscast several of them, that when I was sent out to get MOSS, man on the street interviews, I was sent out to 6th Avenue because we had to get done quickly. How does that give you gauge of how people are feeling? 

SCARBOROUGH: By the way, let me ask this question to everybody, when you say Trump country – Let’s figure this out

BRZEZINSKI: America – the United States!

SCARBOROUGH: You would have to drive from the New Jersey border straight West and you would have to go all the way, if I am not mistaken if you went on a straight line from Jersey, you’d have to go all the way to Oregon, to get out of Trump country…

HALPERIN: Yea!

SCARBOROUGH: Do you think we’re isolated on the coasts?

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