Joe Scarborough blasted NBC and MSNBC for liberal bias on Wednesday’s Morning Joe, criticizing his network’s parent company for producing what could be a “splashy biopic” about Hillary Clinton set to be released in 2015. Scarborough accused MSNBC of promoting liberal candidates, claiming the network is “exactly the same” as Fox News when it comes to pushing a partisan agenda.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski pushed back throughout the segment, arguing that the two networks – often seen as adversaries – are “not the same at all,” and that MSNBC has not tried to “push” Democrats “into the forefront.” The Lean Forward network, though, has promoted Clinton’s would-be candidacy early and often – from shameless praise to campaign strategy to the just-plain bizarre.
Brzezinski kicked off the segment by informally inviting RNC Chairman Reince Priebus on to Morning Joe, asking why Priebus doesn’t demand “that Fox do some really great pieces on Democrats.” Scarborough seemed taken aback, asking: “well what about MSNBC?”
Brzezinski then scolded Fox News for conservative bias:
If you [Priebus] are asking CNN to “balance things out,” and you have a network [Fox News] that basically feeds your candidates. I mean, it really does. And airs them and puts them on and hires them, I don’t know. There is a whole other conversation that nobody is having here.
Scarborough then cut in, acknowledging that his criticism of MSNBC represents a risky move on his part:
For me, and maybe I get in trouble here for speaking my mind, but for me CNN – I mean, that’s what news networks do. I mean, they do documentaries on big political figures. I don’t see the CNN problem. If there’s a problem – uh-oh – it’s actually more with NBC, as far as if they do this splashy biopic, and it’s a beautiful biography of Hillary Clinton. That’s a bigger problem.
Scarborough later joked that he would be “led out of the front door of 30 Rock in handcuffs,” and that NBC was “going to put one of those bags over my head.”
See the full transcript below:
August 7, 2013
6:29 a.m. Eastern
MIKA BRZEZINSKI [on RNC criticism of CNN/NBC for Hillary Clinton projects]: So I feel like we’ve got to get Reince Priebus on the show. Because I understand the argument completely, except that the Republicans have their own network, that has a president that goes and asks people to run for the party.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Wait, what do you mean?
BRZEZINSKI: And until Reince Priebus is demanding that Fox do some really great pieces on Democrats and documentaries, I'm not sure it’s completely a perfect argument.
SCARBOROUGH: Well what about MSNBC?
BRZEZINSKI: What about it? Look at our show. I’m only speaking for our show.
SCARBOROUGH: But, I mean, if you look at the primetime for both networks.
BRZEZINSKI: If you’re asking CNN to “balance things out,” and you have a network that basically feeds your candidates. I mean, it really does. And airs them and puts them on and hires them, I don’t know. There is a whole other conversation that nobody is having here. Having said that, I think they’ve generated a really good conversation about the blurred lines.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, look at MSNBC though.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, what about the blurred lines? We have Republicans on.
SCARBOROUGH: You bring up Fox, you’ve got to bring up MSNBC. I think in this case, though, and I – we disagree on the CNN front.
BRZEZINSKI: We have – okay...
SCARBOROUGH: For me, and maybe I get in trouble here for speaking my mind, but for me CNN – I mean, that’s what news networks do. I mean, they do documentaries on big political figures. I don’t see the CNN problem. If there’s a problem – uh-oh – it’s actually more with NBC, as far as if they do this splashy biopic, and it’s a beautiful biography of Hillary Clinton. That’s a bigger problem. Now, you and I and everybody on the set knows, NBC Entertainment and NBC News are completely separate. NBC News probably doesn’t want NBC Entertainment to do this. But NBC Entertainment – they want viewers, they want ratings. And guess what? A lot of people will sit and watch a biopic on Hillary Clinton. But there’s a big difference, though, between hiring actors and actresses to play that role. CNN doing a documentary on it, I mean that’s at least, in my opinion – that said, I think the RNC has every right to do what the RNC –
BRZEZINSKI: I think it’s a very interesting discussion, Mike [Allen of Politico]. But I think the elephant in the room is Fox, that Reince is sort of leaving out.
SCARBOROUGH: But, I don’t – I am so confused by that.
BRZEZINSKI: Why doesn’t he come on [Morning Joe]?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Reince will come on. But I don’t understand.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, let’s have him on tomorrow. I’ll ask him.
MIKE ALLEN [laughing]: On-air booking.
SCARBOROUGH: Every time you bring up Fox, you have to bring up MSNBC.
BRZEZINSKI: Not really.
SCARBOROUGH: Why not?
BRZEZINSKI: Because I don’t see MSNBC going after, you know, Democratic presidential candidates and trying to hire them or trying to push them into the forefront. Everything you read is that Roger Ailes gets behind Republican candidates, he hires them, he puts them on the air. It is a mouth piece for the Republican Party and the conservative – it is.
SCARBOROUGH: Okay, okay, so here we go. I’m sorry, I’m sorry –
BRZEZINSKI: So here’s his complaint. He now wants every other network to –
SCARBOROUGH: I’m sorry, I can’t be quiet here. I can’t be quiet here. What do you think MSNBC is at night?
BRZEZINSKI: It’s – it’s not the same at all.
SCARBOROUGH: It is exactly the same!
BRZEZINSKI: I don’t think so.
SCARBOROUGH: Well of course you don’t think so, because you’re a Democrat. Whereas I am fair-minded and down the middle and in so much trouble right now, I really need to be calling my agent. Willie [Geist], back to you.
WILLIE GEIST [joking]: Joe, it was a great run.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, it was a great run. This has been a great six-and-a-half years. You know, Mika, she did that on purpose!
BRZEZINSKI [laughing]: No I didn’t.
SCARBOROUGH: Mika set me up.
BRZEZINSKI: Did you read the Dan Balz’s book [Collision 2012]?
SCARBOROUGH: It’s right out of the Grateful Dead. Set me up like a bowling pin and knocked me down. Like a –
BRZEZINSKI: You have Roger Ailes calling Chris Christie, asking him to run for president. Does [NBC president] Phil Griffin do that?
SCARBOROUGH: What’s that?
SCARBOROUGH: No, Roger is free to do what Roger wants to do.
BRZEZINSKI: Exactly! And he does what he does.
SCARBOROUGH: And I do what I do. A lot of people do what they do.
BRZEZINSKI: Okay, that’s fine. I’m just saying, Reince has a good argument. But there is an elephant in the room. Or a fox.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, yes, an elephant. And Willie, I think the elephant is going to be led out of the front door of 30 Rock in handcuffs. They are going to put one of those bags over my head.