Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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Morning Joe, in the person of Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist, took a victory lap this morning on the occasion of Donald Trump's impressive Super Tuesday victories. The theme of the opening half-hour: we told you so. Their point: from the day he announced his candidacy, the Morning Joe team took Trump seriously and said he could be a real factor. In contrast, the poobahs of politics and media made fools of themselves predicting Trump's imminent demise.
In an amusing spike-the-ball display, Morning Joe went to the length of producing a montage of its greatest hits, juxtaposing clips of MJ members being respectful of Trump's chances with clips of various talking heads writing him off. Scarborough repeatedly emphasized that it was not a matter of rooting for or preferring Trump--to the contrary he said he had been a Jeb supporter and now leans Kasich--but simply seeing things for what they were and are.
Hopefully they'll wait till the plane lands . . . New York Times reporters should be thrown off the Trump plane. That's what Steve Schmidt and Joe Scarborough said on today's Morning Joe. Via a Gail Collins column in the Times and in conversations with BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith, portions of Donald Trump's ostensibly off-the-record interview with the Times' editorial board in January were leaked.
Said Schmidt: "if I was running the Donald Trump campaign, every New York Times reporter on that plane would be off of it until and unless they clarify the attributional policies of the newspaper." Seconded Scarborough: "every single New York Times reporter should be kicked off the plane, should not be given press access--anything--until the editor of the New York Times editor explains to the candidate and explains to the readers exactly what happened here."
If Joe Scarborough were ever, as some have claimed, in the the tank for Donald Trump, he has officially climbed out as of this morning. On today's Morning Joe, reacting to the clip of Jake Tapper's interview, Scarborough called Trump's refusal to forthrightly reject the support of Klansman David Duke "disqualifying."
A bit later, Joe and Mika Brzezinski said that if Trump fails today to clean up the situation, Chris Christie "cannot stay with Donald Trump's campaign."
"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans: Vice-President Elizabeth Warren will be delivering the Inaugural Address here today, because President Hillary Clinton has been, uh, unavoidably detained . . ."
On MSNBC's coverage of the South Carolina primary this evening, Chuck Todd actually said that if Hillary Clinton is charged with a misdemeanor concerning her emails, it will have "no impact" on her presidential prospects.
We've used the metaphor before: this wasn't softball--it was T-ball. In the course of a lengthy interview that aired on Morning Joe today, a sympathetic Joe Scarborough asked Hillary Clinton: "the question is why doesn't anything stick to [Trump] whereas everything seems to stick to Hillary Clinton? It's got to be frustrating for you to see sort of the double standard."
Double-standard. Got to be frustrating. Kleenex: STAT! Mika Brzezinski seconded Scarborough's shoulder-to-cry-on: "if you said something in 1994 someone would hold up a sign and take it out of context in front of a speech you're doing." Aww.
Can you imagine if a conservative TV host interrupted a black woman journalist, instructing her to change the way she said something that was not to his linguistic liking? The cries of racial condescension and sexism would echo through the land.
So will Chris Matthews pay a price in the liberal media for the way he treated April Ryan on this evening's Hardball? When Ryan, of American Urban Radio Networks, described Rudy Giuliani as "pro-abortion," Matthews interrupted her: "abortion rights. Pro-abortion rights . . . I don't like [Ryan's] way." The gracious Ryan actually apologized: "I'm sorry."
And we thought Joe Scarborough was the one who had it in for Marco Rubio . . . Turns out, Mika Brzezinski really doesn't dig Rubio. At all.
On today's Morning Joe, Mika painted Rubio as an unprincipled pol "sucking up" to Donald Trump in order to be his VP pick. Mika: "he's the only one who will go against everything he believes in and say whatever Trump wants him to. He'll do whatever Trump tells him to do." Ouch.
Have you seen the GE commercial? Millenial son informs mom and dad that he has gotten a job at GE. Old-fashioned dad is enthusiastic: "proud of you, son. GE! Manufacturing!" He hands son "granpappy's" heavy old hammer. Son gently explains that rather than building "powerful machines," he'll be writing computer code. Disappointed dad: "he can't lift the hammer." Mom, with more compassion than conviction in her voice, consoles son: "it's okay though: you're gonna change the world."
On today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski used that "change the world" line to mock Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in the face of their underwhelming performance in the Nevada caucuses, in which Donald Trump exceeded their combined vote total. Rubbing it in, Mika also echoed dad's dagger: "they can't lift the hammer." Dr. Freud, care to explain the symbolism?
Let he who is without sin . . . throw the first punch? Today's With All Due Respect rapped the MSM for its extensive coverage of Donald Trump having said of an unruly protester "[I'd] like to punch him in the face." Lamented John Heilemann: "cable news is so often so crazily dumb."
Just one problem. Before Heilemann and Halperin bemoaned the MSM's excessive coverage of the line . . . they opened the show by playing in its entirety the clip of Trump's pugilistic proclivity! Hypocrisy, anyone? Their point was that the media's fascination with Trump's antics makes it hard for the other candidates to get their messages out. Fair enough. But they could have done so by briefly describing the "punch" remark. By playing it in full, WADR fell prey to the same temptation they were condemning in others.
Mark it down, said Joe Scarborough. Okay, done. On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough repeatedly, emphatically, declared that Ted Cruz's campaign is "over." The campaign ended, said Scarborough, when Cruz lost evangelicals in South Carolina to Trump, despite the Donald's praise of Planned Parenthood.
Scarborough let it be known that he would have voted for Jeb Bush, and also admires John Kasich. But with Jeb gone, Joe wants to clear the field of both Kasich and Cruz to set up a one-on-one between Rubio and Trump. Given the criticism of Scarborough for what some of us saw as bias against Rubio, interesting that Joe now would like to give Rubio, among all others, the chance to take Trump down.
If there was one theme on today's Morning Joe, it was Joe Scarborough's relentless, merciless mocking of the notion that Marco Rubio has an electoral "firewall" in Nevada. It began with Mika Brzezinski's citing of a National Review article from December that spoke of such a firewall. Joe, butter not melting in his mouth, turned to Mark Halperin, coyly wondering why he was laughing at the notion. Halperin opined that, in fact, Donald Trump was likely to carry Nevada with his biggest margin yet.
Scarborough returned repeatedly to his routine, even working it into a Richard Haass report on the upcoming elections in Iran, with Scarborough declaring that Rubio had a "firewall" there, too. It was a pitiless Scarborough pile-on, persisting right through the show-closing "What Have We Learned?" segment, in which Joe claimed that "Nevada is Spanish for Rubio" and that, yes, one more time, Rubio has a firewall there.
On today's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd helped perpetuate the myth that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. Interviewing Donald Trump, Todd said "Democrats will say the money they give to Planned Parenthood does not go to abortions. That the money they give to Planned Parenthood only goes to other women's health issues including mammograms and things like that."
Let's make this absolutely clear: Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms. Its own FAQ on the matter makes that clear. Even the Washington Post says "the myth that Planned Parenthood actually offers mammogram X-rays to patients has been long debunked, and needs to stop being repeated . . . When Democratic lawmakers or other supporters assert that Planned Parenthood 'provides' mammograms, this is highly misleading." If Todd was going to echo the Dem's "highly-misleading" line, he had a duty to inform viewers that it was untrue. He didn't, and thus misled MTP's audience. A shame.
If you're going to flaunt your superior knowledge, it's a good idea to get it right . . . On this evening's O'Reilly Factor, Geraldo Rivera scolded guest host Eric Bolling for pronouncing the state of Nevada as Ne-VA-da. Condescendingly instructed Rivera: "It's a Spanish word, Ne-VAH-da. Gringo."
There's just one problem. When it comes to pronouncing the name of the state, and not the Spanish word, Bolling was right and Rivera was wrong: "The only acceptable pronunciation of the state is 'Nev-AD-a,' not 'Nev-AH-da.' Pronouncing the state’s name incorrectly can draw ire among residents."--Time magazine.
Talk about setting someone up to fail . . . Heading into a contest, politicians traditionally like to lower expectations. But Joe Scarborough has raised expectations for Marco Rubio almost to the roof. On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough repeatedly cited talk that if Marco Rubio doesn't finish second in the South Carolina primary, "he has to get out of the race."
Chuckling through Joe's comments, Mark Halperin batted away talk of a less-than-second-place finish forcing Rubio out of the race: "with all due respect, that's one of the silliest things I've heard this cycle. Rubio needs to beat Bush here and that's it." Halperin added that should Rubio finish second [behind Trump], "it's a big problem for Ted Cruz."
Aid and Abet: "to assist another in the commission of a crime by words or conduct." Yup, in the mind of Dems, it's nothing short of a crime for the MSM to do anything but get behind whichever presidential candidate has a 'D' after her name.
Witness former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe--now a Hillary endorser--on today's With All Due Respect. He told John Heilemann that if Marco Rubio were the Republican candidate "you in the press, that worries me, because that's going to be a really interesting narrative: young, diverse, versus old." Plouffe went on to complain that the press will "aid and abet" Rubio, rather than letting Hillary define him. "And that's a big problem," concluded Plouffe. Hear that, MSM? Unwavering support for Hillary's plan to rip Rubio is required!
On today's on Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough flatly stated that people that know him, as in his family, know whom he's voting for, and "it's not Donald Trump!" That's newsworthy because Scarborough has been accused by many, as here, here and here, of being in the tank for Trump. Clashing with Time's Joe Klein, Scarborough said that, while not supporting Trump, he and Mika Brzezinski have simply been making the case that for months, the media have been "dead wrong" about Trump in constantly predicting his imminent demise.
Klein, meanwhile, paid a very backhanded compliment to Trump. According to Klein, Trump has a "highly developed lizard brain" and a "feral intelligence," while knowing nothing about policy. Klein added that Trump reminds him of "the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them."
How can we put this politely? "Choked up," our hind quarters . . . In the most blatant case of the MSM covering for a liberal candidate with a potentially serious health issue that this NewsBuster can remember, CNN's Brianna Keilar has described a Hillary Clinton coughing fit as a case of Clinton getting "choked up."
Readers are urged to watch this clip from Hillary's speech in Harlem today. This is someone experiencing a serious, extended, coughing fit. Yet on Don Lemon's CNN show this evening, Keilar described this as Hillary being "choked up so badly that she struggled to speak for a few minutes and they actually cheered to fill the time." Rightttt.
Could the end be near for Jeb Bush's presidential campaign? Would a back-in-the-pack finish in South Carolina be the final blow? Kasie Hunt seems to suggest so.
MSNBC's Hunt, appearing on today's With All Due Respect, sounded an ominous note for Bush fans. Reporting that the Bush campaign has been disappointed by the lack of a bump coming off a strong debate performance, Hunt said "to a certain extent there's a little bit of throwing up of the hands . . . The sense I'm getting from the people I talk to in the Bush circle is getting more and more pessimistic."
Welcome to the official Evangelical Christian Church of America, brought to you by President Ted Cruz . . .
That's the scare-mongering scenario that Joy Reid painted on MSNBC today. Reid alleged that as president, Cruz would "ignore" the part of the Constitution prohibiting the establishment of a national religion. She in essence falsely accused Cruz of planning to establish evangelical Christianity as the law of the land.
"If I hold you any closer, I'll be in back of you." That was Groucho's famous line in A Day at the Races. It's also Hillary's strategy in South Carolina, as she hugs President Obama as close as she can in an effort to appeal to African-Americans, who make up a majority of Dem primary voters there.
Joe Scarborough threw a serious spanner into Hillary's strategy on today's Morning Joe. Scarborough displayed a tweet from Hillary spox Brian Fallon saying how "strange" it is that leaks about investigations into Hillary "seem to emerge on the eve of debates and primaries." Repeatedly calling Fallon a "hack spokesman," Scarborough pointed out that Hillary, via Fallon, was attacking the "integrity" of President Obama and the inspectors general in his administration. That might loosen up Hillary's clinch of Obama a bit in the eyes of Dem voters!