Scarborough – Once Again – Self-Righteously Trumpets Centrist, Calm Debate of 'Morning Joe'

Identifying himself with comedian Jon Stewart and his message against extremist debate , MSNBC's Joe Scarborough praised his own morning show for being a safe haven for different viewpoints and calm debate. This, of course, happened shortly after he interrupted a Politico reporter twice and questioned his story's significance.

Comedy Central's Jon Stewart had appeared on Thursday's "Rachel Maddow" and criticized extremist debate and the sensationalism of the 24/7 news cycle. Scarborough wholeheartedly agreed with him.

"This is not a battle between red state America and blue state America, left and right," he expressed. "It's really not. It's between the extremists, and I'm talking in terms of the media now. It's between the extremists and the regular people, and in some areas in the media, the extremists dominate."

Scarborough also continued his argument made on yesterday's "The View," that more journalists should reveal their own political views and be transparent. It works for him and co-host Mika Brzezinski, he insisted. Scarborough is a former Republican congressman and Mika's father worked in the Carter administration.

"Can you think of a journalist that is really objective that doesn't have their own viewpoints?" Scarborough asked. "Have to be very shallow."

"Morning Joe" maybe should examine its debate first before preaching to the rest of the audience about detachment from bias and low-blow criticism. Co-host Willie Geist recently appeared on MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." and lampooned only Republican candidates while promoting his new book "American Freak Show."

Scarborough, on his own show last week, called all opponents of Obama's India trip "idiots," and ridiculed their intelligence.

In September, "Morning Joe" hosted Pastor Terry Jones, the Florida minister who at the time was threatening to burn copies of the Koran. Guest Jon Meacham of Newsweek lectured the pastor. Jones' feed was then cut before he could respond, and Scarborough later called critics of the move to cut his feed "crazy people."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 12 at 6:43 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

(Video Clip)

JON STEWART: We've all bought into that the conflict in this country is left and right, liberal-conservative, red-blue. Now all the news networks have bought into that. What I do believe is both sides have their way of shutting down debate, and the news networks have allowed these two sides to become the fight in the country. And I think the fight in the country is corruption versus not-corruption, extremist versus regular.

(End Video Clip)

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Ah. In following his comments on this issue, since that rally, and it – I think it's fair to say we could not agree more –

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can't agree more.

BRZEZINSKI: – with that message.

SCARBOROUGH: And the people that come on this show here couldn't agree more – and I want to underline something he said toward the end of is so true. And it is something that we say constantly. You know, we go out on – we've said this for – remember Willy, we went on the book tours, and would come back, and say "Well we've gone on these book tours, and we find that the majority of Americans are in the same place."

We get all these really nasty e-mails, "No they're not!" (Unintelligible)

BRZEZINSKI: Or tweets –

SCARBOROUGH: And we also brought up the point that we deliver the same speech at the 92nd Street Y that we deliver at Pat Robertson's law school. And people laugh in the same places, they applaud in the same places, they smile in the same places –

BRZEZINSKI: They seem to want the same thing –

SCARBOROUGH: They nod in the same places. And he's right. This is not a battle between red state America and blue state America, left and right. It's really not. It's between the extremists, and I'm talking in terms of the media now. It's between the extremists and the regular people, and in some areas in the media, the extremists dominate. And unfortunately that's what people hear or read or see. But in middle America, you know what? 70-75 percent of Americans want us to get debt under control, want us to get out of Afghanistan, or at least stop fighting all over the globe, want us to have leaders that are respectful to each other. And Jon Stewart's message is so, so important there.

BRZEZINSKI: He also made an interesting point on the 24 hour news cycle. Take a look.

(Video Clip)

STEWART: The problem with 24 hour news cycle is it's built for a very particular thing. Now the problem is, how do you keep people watching it? O.J.'s not going to kill someone every day. So that's gone. So what do you have to do? You have to elevate the passion of everything else that happens that might even be somewhat mundane, and elevate it to the extent that "this is breaking news." "This is developing news." "This is breaking-developing news." The aggregate effect of that is that you begin to lose the lexicon. You begin to lose any meaning of what "breaking news" means, or "urgent."

(End Video Clip)

SCARBOROUGH: And Willie, that's really the thing that shocked us three years ago – this is what ticks me off so much, is that people think that intelligent conversation doesn't rate. And we thought out three years ago that smart conversation – people will find it. And if you have like 15 minute interviews instead of four minute interviews, people will find it. I mean, listen, we're – Fox still has more viewers than us, but we out-rate – we have more viewers watching this show than any other network outside of Fox, and it's just a different audience.

WILLIE GEIST: When I was out on my book tour, people would keep saying "Thank you guys for having a civilized conversation in the morning." It just struck me as odd that they had to thank us for that, because –

SCARBOROUGH: For just talking –

GEIST: – where I live and where you live, at your breakfast table, people aren't screaming at each other from both sides of an argument.


But – but to your point Joe, people don't live on extremes, but right down the middle, and they speak with respect for the other person, I don't think the other person on the other side of the table is a villain.

SCARBOROUGH: And John, you were talking about – John bringing up another great point about – like for instance, waterboarding. It's not enough to say that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were wrongheaded. And like for instance Colin Powell said, these sort of policies will hurt our soldiers in the future. It's not enough to say that, Jon Stewart said, you have to say he's evil. And that shuts down the debate.

MIKE BARNICLE: We can – we can – it is possible to disagree vehemently on a political or policy matter without casting aspersions on the person's character. It's possible to do that.

BRZEZINSKI: But I also think there are deeper questions that we have to look at. Barbara Walters brought it up on "The View" yesterday, and it's about objectivity, and where do you draw the line? She is held to different standards, as to everyone else on that show, and I wonder if it's time just to open things up?

SCARBOROUGH: And to be transparent.

BRZEZINSKI: Completely transparent. Viewers are smart.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: What, give up the notion of objectivity –

BRZEZINSKI: Let's put that in quotes.

SCARBOROUGH: Seriously? Seriously? Can you think of a journalist that is really objective that doesn't have their own viewpoints? Have to be very shallow.

BRZEZINSKI: Weekend review, next.


Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014